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3 Key Things We Learned at Programmatic I/O 2021

We just got back from our first in-person AdExchanger event since the start of the pandemic: Programmatic I/O 2021! This year’s New York event had a jam packed agenda built around three key areas of focus: identity, connected TV (CTV), and marketing strategies. We had a great time exploring the future of programmatic amongst other thought leaders, experts, and digital marketers.

Here are 3 of our key takeaways from Programmatic I/O 2021. 

It’s Time to Futureproof Your Strategy

If there’s one thing marketers have learned throughout the pandemic, it’s that being able to pivot strategies on a dime is essential. Being flexible enables you to align with the evolving behaviours of audiences that are shifting their consumer patterns. Pivoting quickly and reactively continues to be important, but this doesn’t mean you can’t futureproof as well. 

At Programmatic I/O 2021, the importance of futureproofing your digital strategy was a consistent theme. By predicting and preparing for future trends and shifts, marketers can reduce how often they have to be reactionary, and instead lean into proactive planning. Not surprisingly, many speakers pointed to cookieless targeting as an important tactic in media plans in the future, but there was also discussion of what agencies of the future will, and should, look like. 

One future-focused idea for agencies that was presented at Programmatic I/O was the flywheel model. The flywheel aims to equip agency marketers to deliver the information and service that helps customers make purchase decisions in a way that best suits them. Agencies can leverage the flywheel model to gain momentum in every level of their organization to help get the agency out ahead instead of bringing up the rear.

Contextual Targeting is a Growing Opportunity

Contextual advertising is a privacy-conscious targeting method that isn’t yet part of most media plans. While it is indeed a classic targeting method, Programmatic I/O emphasized that today it relies on new innovations. Modern contextual advertising uses AI and machine learning to consider the content and context that an ad appears next to, without leveraging user information. Marketers today should be shifting their mindset from viewing contextual advertising as a solution for privacy reforms, to acknowledging that it’s a tactic worth including in a digital strategy because of its unique capabilities and performance. 

At Programmatic I/O, data was shared that backs up the performance of contextual targeting. AI-enabled contextual outperforms retargeting 22% of the time (one out of five comparisons!) And, AI-enabled contextual campaigns get about 2.5x the CPA of RT or better most of the time. Why does contextual advertising perform? It’s because this targeting method delivers messaging to a specific frame of mind rather than a user. It’s great at getting a brand message across to an audience, which makes it a tactic that’s worth including in media plans across verticals.

Consumers and Markets are Evolving

A consistent theme at Programmatic I/O was that user behaviour and shopping will continue to evolve. This was backed up by some interesting stats! We learned that 70% of users around the globe have experimented with some sort of changed shopping behaviour since the pandemic started, and people are now becoming more brand experimental than brand loyal. In fact, 31% of shoppers say brand loyalty is not an important factor in making their purchase decisions. 

We’re also seeing changes in geographic markets, mainly that advertisers are now looking to expand into new ones. For example, one session at Programmatic I/O focused on understanding the Chinese market. The session explored emerging audience targeting strategies in China and best practices in AI when targeting that market. We learned that right now, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has a working group that is aiming to standardize digital advertising practices around how to target users in a privacy friendly way.

Thanks for a Great Programmatic I/O 2021!

The StackAdapt team had a great time connecting with other thought leaders, experts, and marketers in the programmatic space. We’re looking forward to getting out to more in-person events in 2022!

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