These 5 Technology Trends Dominated Discussions at Advertising Week

AI, transparency and measurement were the event's hot topics

Solving tough issues in digital advertising was a huge talking point at Advertising Week.
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In recent years, marketers have played up new emerging technology like virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence during Advertising Week. While those topics are still a growing area of focus for marketers, this year’s chatter shifted to focus more on solving tougher issues in digital advertising like transparency, measurement and fraud.

Over the past year or so, marketers have increasingly demanded solid proof from partners and agencies that their digital ads are working and insights that can fuel future decisions and that theme was prevalent at Advertising Week.

Here are five trends that stood out the most to Adweek’s technology team last week.

1. Measurement

As marketers continue to grapple with how they should quantify and quality their digital campaigns across various platforms, measurement was yet again front and center last week, with both agency and brand execs expressing the need for more improvements.

Speaking with Google Americas president Allan Thygesen, Unilever CMO Keith Weed said there’s no reason companies like Google and Facebook shouldn’t be able to ensure brands that their ads were 100 percent in view.

“Would you buy a dictionary that ended at M and pay for the whole dictionary? Would you buy a tub of Ben & Jerry’s that’s only half full?… It’s dead easy,” he said.

While Weed and others expressed an interest in finding a way to have a standard way of measurement across platforms, it still might not happen anytime soon. In a separate panel about the state of measurement, another Google exec said the industry is still a ways away from having a “single yard stick.” Nithya Sowrirajan, head of brand measurement strategy and commercialization at Google, said putting trust in third-party measurement from “agenda-less bodies” could be a way to have accountability even without a uniform metric.

Sowrirajan said she would like to see industry groups such as the 4A’s and the ANA taking a bigger stand in saying that measurement matters.

“The truth is it’s a noble cause, but it is a research-intensive cause,” she said. “So when we go back and tell our engineers that yes, you have to go back and spend six months working on documents and all of that and the MRC (Media Rating Council) because it’s important, we want to know that it’s important to the entire industry.”

While many want better measurement for social platforms and publishers, some marketers experimenting with virtual reality say the emerging medium might need new metrics.

“We’re used to talking about media in terms of reach and frequency, but with VR we’re talking about depth,” Matt Miller, CEO of the Association of Independent Commercial Producers, said during a panel about the future of VR and brands.

2. Transparency

From a panel about navigating new guidelines from the FTC that requires influencers to clearly label sponsored posts as such to multiple panels about the murky state of the digital media-supply chain, transparency was front and center at Advertising Week.

While marketers are increasingly pushing for better cross-platform measurement within the platforms, there are still questions around how transparent major platforms like Facebook, Google and Pinterest will be in sharing data to inform advertisers’ decisions on how effective their campaigns are across platforms. Execs from all three companies came together on a panel Tuesday to hash out cross-platform measurement.

“You’re going to see us push more and more into this notion of enabling cross-device measurement across the board from analytics through attribution,” said Babak Pahlavan, senior director of product management at Google. “This is still an unsolved problem at scale.”

Meanwhile, a Google exec explained the company’s brand safety problems that caused hundreds of brands to pull their YouTube campaigns this spring. “The brand safety incidents this spring were a complete miss on our part and we’re working very hard to rectify that,” said Allan Thygesen, Google president of Americas.