I've been spending a lot of time lately with publishers, technology providers and others talking about the state of data-driven marketing these days. And from what I can tell, the collective sentiment is... "meh!"
Now don't get me wrong: most people in our business are impressed by the talent and technology that are pushing data-driven marketing forward. But when measured against the incessant hype (Really? The Holy Grail? Really?) the whole thing feels a little less than whole. It's like we've paid top dollar to watch a concert but instead ended up at Karaoke night at the local watering hole: all the lyrics are the same, but the pitch is off and the dude just doesn't have the pipes to sing this song!
This week's Drift is proudly underwritten by PubMatic. With PubMatic's platform, publishers have the ability to offer their inventory to over 400 global Demand Partners - ad networks, demand side platforms, ad exchanges, and agency trading desks - and have on demand access to all the software, tools and services they need to realize the full potential of their digital assets.
While I love a good bubble as much as the next guy, I feel like there are a few things lacking in today's data gold rush:
Overreliance on Retargeting: Stalking the consumer with his unfinished purchase after he leaves a retail site is a neat trick that solves a big problem for merchants, but I've heard that an overwhelming percentage of ad tech and data dollars are aimed at doing only this one thing.
Quality and Recency of the Data: When the data market is hot, we don't ask how the sausage is made. But when you squint and look hard at all the third party data that's flying around, it doesn't look so appetizing. First party data is just better than warmed over assumptions and projection. If it wasn't, it wouldn't command such a premium in dollars and attention.
Viewability and Fraud: I once dismissed the viewability issue, but later had my own personal "road to Tarsus" moment of clarity. There's just too much bad stuff still going on in the big open exchanges. Reputable publishers may fix their page designs and agree to standards, but they were never the problem in the first place. We can try to sanitize the public markets, but at some point there has to be a conversation about what inventory should even be in play.
Cross Platform Anyone? The dirty little secret behind this whole frothy business is the cookie, and the cookie doesn't travel well. I may be writing this on a computer and posting it on the web, but you're more than likely seeing it on a mobile device. Nuff said.
There are lots of white hats out there, and under those white hats are busy brains. These are the individuals and companies who are figuring out how to harness first party data and high-quality inventory into the automated ad buying and placement business. These are the settlers who come in after the gold rush and build thriving, vital cities. Because nobody needs another post bubble ghost town. Or another Karaoke bar.