Ad:Tech 2012: New Insights, Facts, and Cool Ad Technologies

Ad:tech New York had a bit of an uphill battle this year, sandwiched between a hurricane and a Nor’easter, and I too fell victim, deciding to forgo my annual pilgrimage to the confab. This year, I took a different approach than in years past – instead of attending in person, I attempted to curate useful nuggets for you fine readers from afar using a variety of resources: phone interviews, monitoring Twitter hashtags, reviewing speaker presentations, watching posted videos, and reading other columnists’ articles. Let’s see how you think I fared.

I started my process as I normally would: reviewing the conference agenda, narrowing down the list to the topics that most interested me. What attracts me most is either something cool, new, and truly useful, or where I see trends developing.

First, some of my casual observations:

  • There are more and more consumer product brands – it used to be that the only brand names we’d see at ad:tech conferences were Internet brands (Google, Yahoo, etc.); they were soon joined by media outlets and innovative brand leaders (Coca-Cola, Heinz, etc.). Now it seems that big brands are all finally ready to come out of the closet and acknowledge (heck, even credit!) digital: MasterCard, GE, Revlon, L’Oreal, The Gap, Hallmark, Unilever, Kimberly-Clark, and Target, to name a few.
  • Ad:tech should be renamed “converging:tech” – sessions ranged in subject matter from digital advertising to content development of all types to social media to search marketing to integration and development to email and data management to investing.
  • With new ad technologies come ever-crazier names – poor Shakespeare would be scratching his head at some of the companies making a show at ad:tech 2012 (Wuzhounet? DENNOO? Tokutek? Fiksu?).

Speaking of converging technologies and unusual names, I interviewed the director of product management for Idomoo, a pretty cool personalized video-plus-email technology that I think has good potential. And another way-cool new ad technology is the “Chevy Sonic Claw” offering from Pearl Media:

No Denying Mobile

We used to sit through “This will be the year of mobile” presentations, but no more. Mobile is here and gaining ground – predictions have mobile surpassing desktop use as early as 2014…and do any of us doubt that? No fewer than 15 of the 48 ad:tech presentations touched on or featured mobile subject matter.

I spoke to “Location-Based Advertising” panelist Marcus Startzel, general manager, North America of mobile ad platform Millennial Media, who pointed out that “relevancy is being redefined by mobile.” With mobile, the marketer can now literally define and serve ads not only by geography, but specifically by location. It flips the emphasis from content to the context of the user.


Some other compelling mobile stats shared by panel moderator Brian Lipman, digital media manager for Coors Light and Miller Lite:

  • Website traffic from tablets is set to outpace traffic from smartphones by January 2013 (!!) (Adobe Digital Index report).
  • While watching TV, 84 percent of tablet owners browse the Internet and 59 percent shop (Google/Ipsos “Our Mobile Planet”).
  • Four out of five smartphone owners use their phones to help with shopping (Google/Ipsos “Our Mobile Planet”).
  • Amazon saw two times growth in mobile revenue to $2 billion in 2011.
  • Four in 10 mobile users conduct a local search every day (Google).
  • Mobile search will take over PC search by 2015 (eMarketer).
  • 70 percent of mobile searches result in a call to a business, visit, or purchase within the same day (Microsoft).

Insights From Attribution

Given all the convergence of digital marketing, I think the topic of attribution – determining what ad medium deserves credit for a conversion – merits a mention here too. Sometimes the attraction of new technology gets in the way of more effective media planning and buying, but attribution analysis can help.

In their Next-Gen Ad Attribution presentation, Steve Latham of Encore Media Metrics and Brad May of KSL Media reviewed a case study that showed in a multi-tactical campaign:

  • Display advertising accounted for 18 percent of achieved actions.
  • Ads were significantly over-served to the same users.
  • Mobile ads generated low-cost mobile-generated actions.
  • Search only played a supporting role.

Lastly, here’s a link in case you want to view videos of the keynote presentations.

New Technologies image on home page via Shutterstock.

Related reading