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Recapping the 2020 IAB Annual Leadership Meeting


Themes from this year's IAB ALM included the future of the internet, data, policy, and streaming video

On February 9-11, senior executives from across the brand-media world gathered in Palm Desert, California to explore the next wave of disruptive technologies, and the ways they are transforming modern consumer experiences.

In the welcome session Sunday night, IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg announced a new president to chair the IAB’s board of directors, Troy Young, President of Hearst Magazines. Other new board members were announced from brand leaders and sponsors: General Motors and ThirdLove, AccuWeather, Amazon Advertising, Google, IBM Watson Advertising, LiveRamp, Meredith Corporation, Rakuten Marketing, Samsung Ads, and Xandr.

After the board announcements, Troy Young took the stage and addressed the crowd, sharing about the current opportunities and challenges facing Hearst and proclaiming his desire to live in a world where content flourishes on the open web. Extolling that the path forward required consent-based relationships and new systems to enable true value exchange with consumers. He urged that we must humanize data. 

Harmonizing Privacy, Personalization, and Community 

This call-to-action remained a theme throughout the conference, culminating with Rothenburg’s keynote on Monday morning as part of “The Great Collab: Harmonizing Privacy and Personalization” where he charged IAB members with the task of rearchitecting digital marketing and launched Project Rearc, a collaborative initiative to rearchitect digital marketing by harmonizing privacy, personalization, and community. 

Rothenberg stated that with Google’s announcement last month to eliminate third party cookies, the marketing world has reached an inflection point. We are now in a place to recreate an internet that is safer for individuals, that can be a trustworthy tool for delivering personalized offers and advertising to consumers, and one that can maintain safe data for the advertising industry. Based on econometric research by John Deighton, Rothenberg said that the elimination of personalization would mean a loss of $32-$39B in ad revenue on the open web by 2025, with more than 90% of those revenues shifting to walled gardens. This is not a charge that can be led by web browsers who are driven by competition with each other and customer demands or by governments as they are limited by geographical boundaries. Truly fixing the internet, Rothenberg said, is a job for “industry leaders from the brand, agency, publisher, platform and technology industries joining together to address consumer demands for personalization and privacy through behavioral standards, codes of conduct, legal agreements, and enabling technologies.” Learn more and join the collaboration here.

Privacy and Secure Data

The conference continued the cookie-replacement and internet-security conversations with breakouts and tech lab tracks like “Supply Chain Transparency: Standards & Tools for Brand Safety, Anti-fraud, Data Decisions, and More,” a Town Hall on “The End of Third-Party Cookies (and more), What’s a Suitable Replacement?” and a workshop on “The Value of First-Party Data & Delivering a Personalized User Experience in the Age of Privacy.” 

While this ALM concluded with probably more questions than answers, the big conversations have begun. Those who may be able to provide some of the answers have started to collaborate and have the important discussions that will lead to a safer, more personalized, and profitable digital ecosystem for consumers and advertisers. 

Additional conference highlights included…

  • Meg Whitman, CEO of Quibi explaining the forthcoming premium-content mobile-first streaming service with unique features including movies in 10 minute (or less) chapters; an advertising environment that will engage millennials; and a content-licensing model where creators get their IP rights back after seven years on the platform.  
  • Julie DeTraglia, VP and Head of Research and Insights at Hulu shared data proving engagement with ads is higher on streaming vs. linear TV. She shared three overarching trends in video right now: Linear viewing is in freefall, Streaming TV is winning, There’s no going back.
  • Dr. Jeffery Cole, Director of Center for the Digital Future, USC Annenberg School dropped the gauntlet. He stated that the next 12 months are the most important in the entertainment industry since the advent of TV–thanks to the streaming wars. He predicts that we’ll see a lot of changes in the streaming model. Too many subscriptions will equate to spending more than viewers currently do on cable. Plus streaming subscribers will fluctuate on and off again between services based on content availability and new releases. To note, Amazon Prime will continue to win as no one considers their streaming service cost outside of the rest of Prime membership benefits. 
  • Janna Reddig, Director of Global Integrated Marketing for Beam Suntory (Maker’s Mark) is creating new ways to market in the streaming video space like Hulu by crashing into content in unexpected ways. Like having the show’s stars invite you to continue watching the next episode while enjoying a glass of Maker’s.
  • Deborah Wahl, Global Chief Marketing Officer at GM explained how they are using AI and analytics to dive deeper into their customer data (87 million interactions/month in 2019 alone) and uncover unique insights like cat owners are 25% more likely to stay loyal to a single car brand, identifying individuals who are 19x more likely to buy a Cadillac, and applying personalization to their websites which increased likelihood to purchase by 70x!
  • Jo Kinsella, President of TV Squared urged attendees to continue to focus on diversity and inclusion; reminding us that diverse companies are six times more likely to be innovative and agile, eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes, and twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets.