Ad Tech expats in Cannes and the quest for the perfect impression

By John Snyder, CEO, Grapeshot

During the recent Cannes Lions festival I drank rose against a perfect Cote d’Azur sunset with a couple of really smart friends, Harry Kargman, CEO of Kargo, and Jonah Goodhart, CEO of MOAT. Kargo is a leading premium mobile marketplace and MOAT is a digital ad verification company at the forefront of the industry fight against fraud and viewability problems.

The world-class French wine paired with the idyll of the Croisette had an inspirational impact on the discourse. Our little group homed in on a high-minded notion that we think could be a potent road map for programmatic advertising success. It was Harry who coined the phrase “the quest for the perfect impression.”

What will the “perfect impression” look like when we find it? First, it will be completely fused with, and relevant to, its editorial surroundings. Second, it will be creatively exciting, delighting and attracting its audience. Third, it will be engaging, inviting viewers to take action. Harry used the metaphor of a three-legged stool, which of course can’t stand unless all three legs are intact.

The idea of the “perfect impression” speaks to the imperative of elevating advertising quality — the quality of both the experiences we build and the methods we use to quantify them — to match the tremendous strides that have been made in the technology arena. Of late, our industry has placed great emphasis on activating data-driven marketing using next-generation targeting tools like Grapeshot’s keyword contextual targeting app. This ability to more effectively target prospects and customers on platforms like Harry’s has ushered in the advent of personal, mobile-first marketing. The industry has also paid a lot of attention to the new methods Jonah’s company has developed to ensure that people are actually viewing these laser-precise impressions on desktop as well as mobile.

It would have been easy for our discussion to veer off into self-importance. Instead we were honest with each other. We acknowledged that regardless of how clever our teams are in delivering compelling marketplace solutions, the programmatic advertising industry won’t ultimately succeed until the ecosystem as a whole acts together to raise the quality of the creative and our standards for how we value and measure it.

As an adventurer, I know how bitterly deflated I would be if I went to the trouble of planning an ascent of Mount Everest only to have to return to base camp because I hadn’t packed the optimal gear. It would be similarly troubling if a brand marketer were to make the financial investment, and put in the sweat equity, necessary to devising a programmatic media infrastructure that could get his ideal consumer into the crosshairs only to have the message fall flat because of a lack of engaging creative or of analytics that could value it appropriately.

We all need to band together to create the next quality standards for desktop and mobile advertising. Whether that means employing additional native advertising methods or putting a greater premium on metrics that measure quality or engagement, we need to empower a new generation of advertising.

Consumer frustration with intrusive, annoying and unengaging digital ads has sparked a rise in ad blocker usage. With brands demanding viewability and with the tremendous shift in Internet usage from desktop to mobile, we are definitely at a pivotal moment. Unless we commit wholeheartedly to the premise of the “perfect impression,” we may not fulfill the potential all of us have worked so hard to fulfill.

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