Collaboration, openness and C-suite education – the digital industry’s manifesto for 2021

At an IAB-facilitated workshop at Mumbrella360 yesterday, the industry was challenged to help to help create a blueprint for how the digital marketing industry should look by 2021. Interim CEO Gai Le Roy summarises the key findings.

What do you get when you squeeze 120 people from all sides of industry around eight tables to discuss the future of our industry?  An enthusiasm and willingness to work together and a very clear agreement from all parties on two key points.

Firstly that the entire digital advertising industry needs to collaborate to standardise key metrics; and secondly, that business leaders and senior marketers need to become digitally-literate and educate themselves on the full digital ecosystem if marketing is to truly thrive in the next few years.

IAB interim CEO Gai Le Roy at Mumbrella360 yesterday

We had challenged people from every corner of the industry – marketers, publishers, platforms, agencies and vendors – to break away from their short-term focus and to discuss one of four provocations which were flagged by members of The Marketing Academy alumni as their most pressing concerns looking forward to 2021:

  • What will be the skills/capability required?
  • What will we need to deliver with measurement and attribution?
  • How will data privacy awareness and regulation impact the industry?
  • How will technology improve digital transparency?

I was personally heartened to see such a large group of senior industry leaders from all parts of the ecosystem and many different verticals jumping into these discussion with such enthusiasm and looking for solutions, not blame.

It quickly became apparent that the central theme from every table discussion was an agreement that industry needs to pull together to achieve the things that nearly everyone said would make their jobs easier and better. A common language, standards, training and collaborative and open measurement were all elements identified as critical for inclusion in our digital blueprint.

Not just for the agencies and publishers, but critically also for the senior business people and marketers who need us to better align our digital metrics and language with their business metrics and language.

Top of the priority list however was an outtake which was consistent across three of our topic areas:  As an industry how do we collaborate to find data privacy compliant ways to measure and assess the reach and impact of digital campaigns across a variety of media offerings? This was discussed within the measurement, data and privacy and tech and transparency groups and highlights the need for the different areas of our digital industry to pull together and put the hard yards in now to help build for the future.

Our starting points for the digital manifesto are as follows.

Many of these points are firmly in the IAB’s heartland and are about putting in place the universal infrastructure for the industry to build upon in the future. If we do this right, we can overcome many of the conversations dogging the industry today and deliver on the real promise of the digital revolution.

What will be the skills/capability required?

  • C-suite education is as needed as entry level certification
  • Although short term tech skill development is still vital, as automation increases soft skills will become increasingly important for the industry
  • Educating the industry in the “language of business” rather than creating more technical language is essential

What will we need to deliver with measurement and attribution?

  • Standardisation for common building blocks for reach, frequency and attention metrics should be agreed upon. Not only will this help cross-digital measurement, it can underpin the development of cross-media solutions.
  • Having standards for some basic metrics will allow more nuanced data to be appended to allow publishers, agencies and advertisers to effectively measure against their own specific KPIs
  • Collaboration across media, research and tech worlds is needed to be able to work out unique reach across different media offerings.

How will data privacy awareness and regulation impact the industry?

  • The notion of data guardianship needs to be elevated throughout organisations, not merely sit with the marketing department
  • The industry needs to take a measured approach to balance the competing needs of marketers for more data and the privacy concerns of consumers
  • There need to be uniform standards for every participant in the data value chain, right down to the end consumer, to help bring back trust

How will technology improve digital transparency?

  • Transparent tech solutions can enhance the quality and confidence in verified audience data and thus create more robust tradable currencies
  • Open source and industry collaborative initiatives will empower the market to provide more valuable information to marketers while still treating consumer data with respect (often beyond compliance)
  • Blockchain (there really couldn’t be a future of digital discussion without it) or blockchain type solutions can deliver transparency that will add incredible value to our industry – however we are not quite there yet.

We will be reporting back and providing updates on how some of our local and global IAB initiatives can help us move towards achieving these goals by 2021, however the work required to deliver to the outcomes which were agreed upon yesterday will require the energy and efforts of all of us in the digital ecosystem, so I would encourage you all to see our session as the start point and to actively get involved.

Finally I’d like to thank our table moderators who gave up their time to help steer the conversations at each table. We worked hard to make sure these were independent people who have deep industry experience but no digital barrow of their own to push. And they met our brief without exception.

They were: James Greet, Clean Thinking; Sarah Wyse, Wyse Women; Karen Halligan,  KPMG; Ben Sharp, consultant; Megan Brownlow, PWC; David Morgan, Morgan; Jonas Jaanimagi as well as myself from the IAB.

Gai Le Roy is IAB’s interim CEO.

See the rest of the coverage from Mumbrella360 here.


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