My Monday morning keynote at the IAB Networks & Exchanges event was supposed to bring clarity to the opaque and byzantine automated marketplace that seems to be forever dawning around us. I think this fell to me because Middle East peace and third world poverty were already taken.
Given the technical acumen of the group, I thought it best to come clean with them: after 17 years in this business, I'm still pretty fuzzy about what exactly an algorithm is. They look great on chalkboards, and people toss the word around our business pretty casually, but I'm guessing I'm not the only one who might be having a little trouble digesting all this science.
So as a service to the algorithmically challenged, I offered the group my own take on the landscape via "the Dougorithm." It may not clear the picture up entirely, but it just might make things a little more cogent and real for us mere mortals.
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I think the reason this little five minute explanation resonated with so many is that it breaks all this technical jockeying down to what it truly is: a conversation about power and leverage. When publishers had too much inventory and agencies had not enough planning capacity, the power and leverage of the networks ascended. The triple combination of exchanges, DSPs and agency trading desks was supposed to shift the mantle of power back to the agencies and their holding companies. But now the tepid support of this model by clients and the unwillingness of publishers to put quality inventory into play has shifted the balance of power and leverage once again. Now it seems that advertisers and media owners may yet have the next say in what happens....if not the final one.
My hope is that this video serves as both irritant and catalyst. You may not like or agree with my point of view; or you might. But just maybe the five minutes you spend with this video will prompt a better conversation about what's inevitable and what's not. And whatever your views on what you see here, I'd be honored to have them appear in the comments below.