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“Addressability and Identity are key themes”: Cannes LIONS, Day 2 round-up

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This will be the first Cannes we’ve had where the key theme for publishers will be centred on addressability and identity.

Travis Clinger, SVP, Addressability and Ecosystem, LiveRamp

With the sunsetting of third-party cookies now top of the agenda, the media industry has been scrabbling to find a universal ID solution that would curry favor with all parties – brand advertisers, regulators and publishers.

This hasn’t happened, and just as we predicted in our Cookie Report last year, “in the short term we are likely to see a fracturing of ad tech, with several competing replacement technologies appearing before we can determine which will emerge dominant in the marketplace. Publishers should focus on first-party subscriptions and innovations in contextual targeting – think moment targeting – while larger publishers should also consider collaborative clean rooms for accuracy, value and control.”

For publishers to thrive in a cookieless world, it’s vital that they seek a solution that places people and their privacy at its centre. We’re likely to see publishers and marketers forming closer partnerships as they start to work together on strategies that have addressability at their heart.

Travis Clinger, SVP, Addressability and Ecosystem, LiveRamp

Bubbling under: ad fraud

As if to underline the necessity for the ad industry (and publishers) to get a grip of the situation, some of the whispers at Cannes focused on the newly released – and then rapidly withdrawn – report from the U.S. Association of National Advertisers (ANA) on ad fraud, an act suspicious in itself.

While most researchers have estimated ad fraud in 2022 to be in the colossal neighborhood of $60 billion, the report from the ANA estimates ad fraud to be about double that, at $120 billion. If the ANA’s estimate is correct, ad fraud is a bigger business than Coca-Cola or Nike, wrap your head around that.

Bob Hoffman, Ad Contrarian newsletter

Speaking to WNIP, Sovrn’s VP of Marketplace Strategy, Peter Cunha, told us, “The more publishers can provide reliable data and context around an ad opportunity, the better off the entire ecosystem will be. Moving forwards, publishers will have a larger role to play in the valuation of an ad opportunity, and we want to help them seize that opportunity.”

A shift to ethically purchased media

We subsequently caught up with The MediaGrid’s Parag Vohra, who told us the key trend he was seeing was a “genuine shift to ethical buying to support DEI initiatives and content, as well as sustainability content such as green energy themes”.

We don’t bring trends to the table, we reflect them, and on the demand side there is a social phenomenon happening at pace – DEI and Sustainability issues are moving into the ad tech space.”

Parag Vohra, VP, Global Commercials, The MediaGrid

Vohra also added that the 3rd party cookie commoditized content and that is now stopping. He urged publishers to silo their own data and own the relationship with their readers.

What cookieless means to publishers

Tuesday also saw the launch of Teads‘ new report entitled, “What Cookieless Means to Publishers”, with a panel comprising Aurelia Noel, Head of Innovation, Dentsu; Felix Zeng, Head of Programmatic, IBM Watson; Anthony Katsur, CEO, IAB Tech Lab; and finally Tom Roche, VP Digital Commercial Strategy, Euronews.

Key takeaways? Aurelia Noel disclosed that Dentsu has a checklist of criteria with which they benchmark publishers and that whilst the media giant needs “audiences at scale”, they will “only work with ten to fifteen publishers in each market” so that Dentsu can “carefully curate the inventory”.

Noel then added, “We shouldn’t find shortcuts to cookies, but ask how we can interconnect the data to build an audience profile.”

Privacy is a human right, not a ‘nice to have’.

Aurelia Noel, Head of Innovation, Dentsu

The theme was picked up by IAB Tech Lab’s Katsur who said that the future will see a “portfolio approach to addressability” (e.g. seller defined audiences, IP addresses, contextual, etc) and that if this was indeed the future, then “interoperability will be key”.

Responding to an audience question Katsur also stated that fingerprinting as a means of identity faces “immense challenges” as the regulatory headwinds are moving against it, not least because “how can people opt-out of fingerprinting?” He also admitted that in the longer term, IP addresses as a means of identifying audiences would also fade away.

Felix Zeng then reminded the assembled publishers that people register and log in to a website to “consume content” and “not to have their data used so they can be tracked across the web and served ads.”

The session finished with a key point made by Euronews’ Roche who told publishers “if you don’t know who your audiences are, how can you best serve their interests?”

55% of publishers do not currently have a plan to increase logged in users. 49% of publishers, however, look at the sunsetting of cookies as an opportunity.

Teads’ ‘What Cookieless Means to Publishers” report

Google re-imagines search

Our next session saw us move to the main Palais theatre to listen to Google’s Pandu Nayak present a talk entitled ‘Re-imagining Search, Any way, Anywhere’. Nayak is Google’s Head of Search (official title: Google Fellow) and he reminded the audience that Google search has come a long way from its early days in 1998, “When Google started there were 25Mn web pages, now there are 100Bn plus – every day 15% of our searches have never been seen before”.

Advances in AI are creating major steps forward in search. Google’s ‘Hum to search’, as an example, is already used 100MN times a month as people try to find a song they like.

Pandu Nayak, Head of Search, Google

Most of Nayak’s presentation was filled with generalisms and feel-good soliloquies, including a classical quartet interlude, but it was what he said towards the end that made people sit up.

The response was decidedly mixed. On the one hand, some publishers clearly saw the advantage of amplifying diverse voices, but others viewed it as positive discrimination that could have unintended consequences – that is, entrenching existing stereotypes through profile advertising. The jury is decidedly out.

Mental health and well-being takes centre stage

Our final talk of the day was focused around employee health and well-being, a topic that even Cannes LIONS has identified as a central challenge to both brands and publishers. Located at the FreeWheel beach, the panel consisted of Samantha Maltis, Sesame Workshop; Pooja Midha, Chief Growth Officer, Comcast Advertising; Meg Rushton, Ad Council; and Lynn Brannigan, She Runs It.

Employee retention, recruitment, and well-being have moved significantly up the agenda, partly because of the lack of staff available, but also the ‘Great Resignation’ which has seen employees move en masse from jobs they don’t like. The theme was taken up passionately by the Ad Council’s Rushton who made the point that “communications professionals are in a position to reframe the language”.

As communication professionals we can make a difference by reframing language – they’re not sick days, they’re health days. Look, mental health is the single cause of disability worldwide and ‘duvet days’ should be supported, not frowned upon.

Meg Rushton, Ad Council

In short, brands and publishers were urged to make employee well-being a priority, not just in terms of staff retention but also for solid commercial reasons.

Thought for the day

We leave you with a single tweet.