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Preview: The Ins and Outs of ad:tech San Francisco 2014

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Richard L. Tso  |

ADOTAS – The ad tech industry has a lot to talk about — the rise of agency trading desks, exponential growth in programmatic ad buying, the explosion of cross-channel targeting and the Facebook Exchange, among other hot topics. The stage is set for ad:tech San Francisco next week at Moscone West, where the best and brightest in the industry are ready to participate in 30 breakout sessions and watch five keynotes led by industry luminaries.

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong is set to keynote again this year, along with Ryan Holmes, CEO of HootSuite; John Battelle, executive chairman of sovrn; Jeb Terry CEO of StraightCast; and yes, even musician and media mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs.

The ad tech landscape has changed drastically over the last year, with companies like Rocket Fuel, Rubicon and Criteo going public and Facebook finally giving advertising powerhouse Google a run for its money. Over the last year, Facebook has worked to become one of the best performing ad platforms based on DR metrics and, with the help of products like Facebook Exchange (FBX), earned 7.4% of US digital ad spend. Although Google still has 40.9% market share, the emerging digital ad ecosystem will allow players like Facebook and Twitter to leverage their comparative advantages in social and mobile to vie for digital spend.

Only time will tell how the ad industry will shake out but until then, the discussions taking place at ad:tech SF will help to shape its transformation for years to come.

Here are the ad:tech highlights that you shouldn’t miss.

Wednesday, March 26

Keynote: “Advertising’s New Ecosystem,” Tim Armstrong of AOL (9 a.m.): Our industry has developed too many niche offerings and specialized services since the first tech bust in the ’90s. In effect, we’ve created costly microcosms of the greater ad tech madness. Nearly 25 years later, there is a light appearing at the end of the tunnel thanks to budding innovation that ties us all together. Competing with television is no longer a lofty goal, but a realistic endeavor. Digital transparency is no longer a non sequitur, but a requirement. Creativity and technology are no longer diametrically opposed, but inherently connected.

“More than One: How Multiscreen Campaigns Drive Results,” Honda, Quantasy (11:30 a.m.): Multiscreen marketing is a must for any brand; but successfully weaving all the media venues together for maximum effect isn’t easy. When done well though, such strategies can deliver impressive results. Honda’s 2013 campaign for its Honda Civic, called “Best Yourself,” was centered on a TV and online video commercial starring global icon Nick Cannon utilizing a combination of video, social media, social advertising, and digital ads. In addition, the campaign featured a “central hub” to engage with consumers and create a conversation about self-improvement, a core brand value in the car itself.

“From Local to Scale: How to Marry Mobile Data to Multiscreen Marketing,” Sony, PlaceIQ (3:30 p.m.): Advances in geolocation technology give marketers the opportunity to track consumers and identify their consumption patterns as they go about their days, taking a trip to the grocery store, the gas station or the coffee shop, for instance. Drew Breunig, Senior Director of Strategy, PlaceIQ and Randy Hastings, Associate Portfolio Director of Sony, will dive into how this real-world behavioral data can operate at the local level to help marketers improve both online and offline campaigns.

Thursday, March 27

Keynote: “The Evolution of Digital Marketing: From Content Marketing to Programmatic,” John Battelle of sovrn (9 a.m.): In a fireside chat keynote, Battelle, author of The Search and his newest book, What He Hath Wrought, will discuss the history and evolution of digital marketing, including its hindrances and untapped opportunities. He’ll touch on a generational shift occurring among online marketers, what’s in store for content marketing, the evolution of video and mobile advertising, why new and innovative tools deliver extreme value to publishers and advertisers, and the shift that brands have had to make in becoming expert marketers.

“The Next Ads Frontier: Smart Homes and Connected Cars,” Kiip (10:30 a.m.): Advertising today is inescapable. It’s everywhere from smartphones to YouTube videos, and even Instagram (not to mention bathroom stalls!). Soon, our homes and automobiles will become “connected” zones. New innovations in consumer technology, from Nest thermostats and smart TVs to Internet-enabled cars, are turning these venues into ad mediums too. How can brands break virgin ground in this type of personal environment to connect with consumers in a natural, unobtrusive way.

“Mobile, Security, Big Data: The 3 Things to Stop Focusing on and One You Are Missing,” AdRoll, Inmobi and Rubicon Project (1:15 p.m.): AdTech companies frequently are overshadowed by bigger news makers and challenges in the digital marketing and technology world. Significant technologies are being produced in ad-tech, especially by start-ups, that promise to revolutionize the digital advertising space. Hear the stories of CEOs and Founders of high-profile ad-tech companies – how they started, where did they end up and if there are regrets. A focus will also be given to up-and-coming solution providers and where the industry may be in five years.





Richard L. Tso is a reporter for Adotas and an avid writer covering the intersection of technology and advertising, fashion and music. With over 12 years of experience in the Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations industries, Richard has held executive positions at global agencies and technology companies and is founder of the interactive communications firm Pseudosound Consulting LLC. A classical cellist and painter, he believes that sometimes sound carries more weight than words. He is a graduate of Stanford University.

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