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[Watch on Demand] That’s a Wrap! Event Highlights from Our H2 2023 Virtual Programmatic Day

Nov 29,2023
Lauren Wakefield
Artificial Intelligence (AI)KnowledgeHub

On the 21st of November, we were delighted to welcome over 70 stakeholders in person, with an additional 500 participants tuning in online, as we dived into the captivating world of AI in programmatic advertising during the H2 edition of IAB Europe’s Virtual Programmatic Day. 

Thanks to the support of our event host Google, we enjoyed a fascinating afternoon of conversations exploring everything from the latest insights from the 2023 Attitudes to Programmatic Advertising Report to all the practical implications and advantages that AI is bringing to programmatic advertising. Every speaker was a member of IAB Europe further highlighting the incredible knowledge and talent we have within our committees.

Check out the session recordings and all of the key highlights below.

Opening Keynote: Attitudes to Programmatic Advertising

The event kicked off with Nick Welch, Head of Programmatic Sales, EMEA at Integral Ad Science (IAS) and Chair of IAB Eurpope’s Programmatic Trading Committee, taking to the stage to share the latest stats, facts, and key insights from our recently released 2023 Attitudes to Programmatic Advertising Report

Nick shared how programmatic investment had improved in 2023, that concerns about the quality of media had become more of a barrier for the buy-side, that there had been a resurgence in the use of third-party data in the industry, and how sustainability had become more of a focus area across all four stakeholder groups - advertisers, agencies, publishers and ad tech vendors.

Watch the session recording here.

Download your own copy of the report here.

Panel Discussion: The European Programmatic Advertising Landscape

Following the opening keynote of the 2023 Attitudes to Programmatic Advertising Report, Nick invited a panel of experts to the stage to dive into the results further. For the discussion, he was joined by Ferran Martí Voltas, EMEA Programmatic Sales Manager, Samsung Ads, Nicky Spooner, Senior Director EMEA, PubMatic, and Benjamin Masse, Chief Product Officer, Triton Digital who shared their thoughts on how the industry is coming together to overcome key barriers to investment and what the biggest opportunities are right now.

Key takeaways from the discussion included:

  • The growth in programmatic investment resonated well with what the panel was seeing in their own businesses, and across different markets. The last few years have been unpredictable, but programmatic is built for that purpose, so it was not a surprise that growth is now being seen post-pandemic. 
  • Benjamin noted that from an audio perspective, programmatic was seeing a huge surge in Europe at 62% growth compared to 12% in the US market.
  • Cost efficiencies have been replaced by the quality of media as the key barrier to investment in 2023. The panel discussed how we have forgotten that programmatic is a way to buy and that we don't need to know the how but that it’s more important to have good relationships and focus on transparency and discoverability. They also suggested that we should focus on the rise of Supply Path Optimisation (SPO) so that people can understand more of what they are buying, align it with brand goals, and take responsible investment more seriously. 
  • When it comes to AI and MFA content, Nick asked the panel if there is an argument that if the audience is engaged this could be considered as quality content. The panel agreed that this would depend on adherence to regulation and the benchmarking of quality. 
  • Following this point, Benjamin raised concerns about SPO creating more complexity in the supply chain in general and said that we need to advocate for reducing the number of requests from a sustainability standpoint. In response, Nicky suggested we work with fewer partners, for more direct supply access and to create targeting efficiencies. This is where testing and learning is important.
  • Ferran shared that sustainability was a key concern shown in the report. He gave examples of how the industry, in his case, the CTV ecosystem is helping to reduce emissions. Bid requests have become more efficient, instead of sending 8 times for the different ad slots for a break, now you just send one request for the entire ad break.
  • Ultimately, we need to practice more responsible purchasing and collaboration, whilst also being mindful of accountability from advertisers. With the decline of cookies and IDs, the challenge is to purchase efficiently and sustainably while ensuring successful measurement.

Watch the session recording here

Keynote Presentation: Making AI Helpful for Everyone

We then moved to the topic of AI, which was the main focus of the event. Welcoming David Black, Senior Director of Technology, Media, Telecoms & Apps at Google UK to the stage, he walked us through how AI is the most profound technology humanity is working on today and how people can invest in and use it with confidence. 

Key takeaways included:

  • David shared three key things that should be covered when working with AI: Be bold, be responsible, and be together as an industry. This is where the real opportunity lies. 
  • Bold: Use AI to make a difference in society and build it into your products. David shared an example where AI was used at Moorfields Eye Hospital to help them more efficiently diagnose patients. This didn’t take work away from the doctors but enabled them to more accurately diagnose and helped to better inform their work. 
  • Responsible: David followed this by asking the audience to think about the principles of innovation and how we approach these ideas in a user-friendly and privacy-safe way.
  • Together: He rounded this up by saying that we must not think about AI as being competitive but embrace the technology that will help our industry. We should test and learn to measure and scale.

Watch the session recording here

Panel Discussion: How AI is Transforming Programmatic Advertising, Focusing on Buying and Trading

After a short coffee break, Nick invited the next panel to the stage. Moderated by Sara Vincent, Managing Director, UK & IE at Index Exchange who was joined by Sara Sihelik, Country Manager, Germany, Quantcast, Rob Georgeson, Head of Programmatic at Zenith, UK, Mathieu Roche, CEO & Co-founder, ID5 and Laura Carstens, Director of Product Marketing, IAS the panel session explored the impact and effectiveness of AI on programmatic buying and trading. 

Key takeaways from the discussion included:

  • The panel agreed that AI is and has been a key part of the programmatic landscape for a long time. From data processing to understanding content online, through to real-time targeting, machine learning helps us to target at a more granular level.
  • Mathieu shared that AI allows more signals to be processed. It can digest more signals and build models that can respond in a fraction of the time. 
  • Rob reiterated this point and said it is interpreting signals we’ve never used before, which is creating even more scale.
  • Rob further added that whilst AI is adding huge value, we can’t talk about data and targeting without discussing privacy. With the demise of third-party cookies, AI will help us to interpret new online behaviours in this new world. 
  • When it comes to how AI helps to inform a bidding strategy and the optimisation of budgets, the panel discussed how using AI-powered segments helps to unlock scale and also to better target the right content, to drive results. As an example, Sara shared a Hotel Group they had worked with during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how they had changed the keywords and targeting strategy around travel restrictions. Leveraging AI to find these audiences in this instance helped that hotel group to survive.
  • In terms of challenges, the group discussed, if used incorrectly, how AI could have the potential to create issues, such as misinformation for advertisers. They suggested that whilst we are innovating it is essential that we use the right tools to keep up with bad characters. We also need to be mindful of how we manage privacy and our right to be forgotten to avoid greater consequences for the general public. 
  • In terms of the regulatory landscape, the next twelve months might change how programmatic is perceived. It is important to lean in now and to test techniques so we can be prepared.
  • To summarise, Sara said that we need to make sure AI is ethical and that what we put in also comes out.

Watch the session recording here

Panel Discussion: How AI is Transforming Programmatic Advertising, Focusing on Campaign Optimisation & Measurement

We then came to our final panel of the day, who discussed and shared best practices for the ways in which AI is reshaping campaign optimisation and enhancing measurement and attribution. This session was moderated by Ben Geach, Consulting Lead at Google, who was joined on the stage by Clara de Rosa, Head of Customer Success, Adform, Wayne Tassie, Group Director, Integrated Solutions, DoubleVerify, Dr. Matina Thomaidou, VP, Head of Data Science at Dataseat (part of Verve Group) and Ryan Miles, Director - International Marketing, Microsoft Advertising.

Key takeaways from the discussion included:

  • The panel opened the discussion by sharing ways in which AI helps with campaign optimisation. The general consensus was that AI will undoubtedly underpin everything that we do in the future when it comes to driving performance outcomes, that it will open up opportunities for new alternative behavioural signals and free up time for us to do more things better and more creatively. It’s an exciting time. 
  • In terms of how AI helps to improve performance, Ryan shared from his perspective that it helps to improve communication back to the client, as it helps to better articulate what we see in the data. He shared that 70% of people feel more productive and 68% are seeing more improved outputs. Plus it has cost benefits too.
  • Clara also added that it can help us become more sustainable and allow our jobs to become more interesting.
  • Wayne reminded the audience that AI has been around for a long time and it’s only recently we’ve started talking about it. The current iteration of AI is going to do a lot of the heavy lifting and needs to be embraced by our industry. 
  • When it comes to how data is fuelling AI, Matina said that we are in an initial data collection phase and that it will then be crucial to do data processing before we start modelling. Wayne followed up on this to say we are quite a way off from AI doing all of the decision-making in programmatic for us, but as we progress and it becomes more seamless this could be the future. 
  • On creative personalisation, Dynamic Creative Optimisation (DCO) was discussed as a starting point. This has been around for a while and needs to be adopted first, so more education is needed here. In the future, we may see AI used more to shoot production and the inclusion of synthetic models as a more cost-efficient way of creating advertising. 
  • Finally, the panel shared how AI can help overcome challenges of measuring success. They discussed consolidation, how we need to use AI to take the complexity out of the different metrics across the user journey, and how advertisers and partners need to own attribution models and the transparency on how that is built.  

Watch the session recording here

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