Welcome to 2015 – The Year of Proficiency

Thinking back on the buzziest of 2014 buzzwords, one key point stands out. The year’s hottest bingo terms weren’t all that new. In fact, I’d suggest most were holdovers from previous years. Perhaps the definitions were altered or refined a bit, but by and large the words that defined 2014 were not new.

And for the industry, as it heads into 2015, that is a very good thing. It’s a good thing because it means that in 2015 there are no excuses. For years, the year of mobile was touted, and then it arrived in full force with many unprepared. Big data has been around for so long that it’s now just data, because everything is at scale. And native and programmatic are so entrenched that we’ve started combining words in the chain to form native this and programmatic that.

The days of toe dipping have passed, as these channels and tactics are now so commonplace that to not act, completely, means getting left behind and risking substantial losses.

Whether you buy the Gladwell 10,000 hour rule or the inherent value of large-scale machine learning, 2015 should be the year it pays off for both man and machine. As understandable as it is to test before diving in, the approach is problematic for true expertise. Too often it involves less rigor and, because it involves smaller budgets, it simply fails to provide enough real learning to enhance future performance.

Now with another year of learning under the belt, with machines running increasing amounts of data, both big and small, it’s possible for practitioners to exhibit real comfort and expertise. The payoff for this should be more intelligent campaign design, truly insightful learnings from past performance, and better optimizations against targets, in order to ensure consumers have the highest degree of probability to engage with the advertising presented.

Everyone can see the key areas of focus in the buzzwords that so often roll off the tongue in meetings and at conferences. Now the secret to success is identifying which matter most to individual businesses, and determining how to leverage those for true gain. “Test and learn” can be replaced with precise focus on specific areas to ensure the possibility of success.

So, say goodbye to 2014 – a year full of learning and familiarity – and say hello to excellence, made possible by proficiency. Onward to 2015 we go.

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