LUMA Partners founder and CEO Terence Kawaja has long been the grand organizer of the ad tech market. His LUMAscapes have become the most recognizable and easily referencable maps of who’s involved in the buying and selling of ad inventory, be it display, search, social, video, mobile, etc. Now the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has unveiled its own take on the ad tech scene, dubbed the IAB Digital Advertising Arena.
The IAB’s vp of ad tech Steve Sullivan showed off the chart at the trade organization’s Annual Leadership Meeting on Monday in Phoenix, Ariz., and the IAB has posted it online with an explanation as to why it has issued a challenger.
“The digital advertising ecosystem has been opportunistically portrayed with excess complexity to the benefit of bankers and to the detriment of marketers, brands and agencies. The IAB Arena portrays our ecosystem more accurately and accelerates the IAB ad technology and operations work that simplifies the supply chain that undergirds it,” the IAB writes.
Rather than Kawaja’s left-to-right, buy-to-sell orientation, the IAB Digital Advertising Arena plots the display advertising market as a wheel, or target, with brands at the center/bull's-eye and other categories rippling out.
The Arena is a bit harder to parse than the LUMAscape, which has a cause-and-effect flow that shows the daisy-chaining of display advertising. At the Arena’s heart is the brand, closely cocooned by “media planning and buying” entities like agencies and the brand’s in-house team followed by the “content creators” ring of publishers, brand content and social. Then comes an invisible wall.
Three rings removed from the brand lies the bulk of the LUMAscape chart. That ring is categorized as “media vendors” and includes ad networks, exchanges, demand-side platforms, agency trading desks and publishers. Outside of this first ad tech ring reside other technology vendors like ad servers, data management platforms and media attribution firms in their respectively outward-rippling rings dubbed “execution technologies,” “media enhancements” and “business intelligence.”
It may be reading too far into the Arena to infer that the IAB has insulated the brand from ad tech vendors. But it would align with the trade org’s emphasis on content. “Ad creativity, we know, is the single most important determinate to a campaign’s success,” said the IAB’s head of brand initiatives Peter Minnium. IAB president and CEO Randall Rothenberg opened Monday’s presentation questioning whether these are the dark ages of digital advertising, with the proliferation of ad inventory coupled with the prominence of ad technologies yielding a race-to-the-bottom environment. That’s not to say that the IAB aims to eradicate ad tech vendors but is instead pushing for a renewed focus on the content contained by the ads those vendors buy and sell. The Arena appears to sharpen that focus.