From Trust to Tech: Hot Topics in Cannes

"Tim Mahlman poses for Headshot at AOL Hq in New York (2015). Photos by Gino DePinto, AOL."What were key takeaways at the 64th Annual Festival of Creativity in Cannes? Tim Mahlman, President of Ad Platforms at Oath, offers his perspective on the event’s hot topics.
Brand Safety
“In the digital environment, which is naturally a more open ad ecosystem, brand safety has always been top-of-mind for advertisers and agencies. However, given very public challenges for some platforms, brand safety is now more front-and-center than ever in conversations with technology partners. We saw this dynamic emerge at the NewFronts and it continued – and accelerated – at Cannes.
“Many platforms have responded by touting AI capabilities for weeding out offensive content. But that’s only part of it. The most practical solution is that advertisers need to work with trusted, premium inventory sources that can combine their supply with cutting-edge quality control tools and technology. This is the most effective way to deliver true peace of mind for advertisers and boost brand safety.”
Trust & Accountability
“Trust and accountability played a role in every discussion at Cannes. It’s clear that advertisers want and deserve deeper insight into how agency and technology partners act on their behalf. They want to know how their money is being spent. P&G is a good example. They announced that they would review all media agency contracts this year to extract broader transparency and data from ‘murky’ agency and publisher relationships. That resonated well in Cannes, where every buyer was calling for greater accountability across the digital ecosystem. And, candidly, we think we led the discussion in how to get there.
“It starts with the technology vendors and platforms. Advertising technology is the backbone of the industry. So, as supportive partners and category stewards, we have to take the lead and build and refine our services to deliver true accountability. Third-party verification of inventory sources and attribution metrics is a first step. But beyond that, platforms need to be proactive, providing buyers with greater access to attribution data, making their technology stacks both vendor and media agnostic, and offering more programmatic transparency in areas like fees, CPMs, and bids.”
Immersive Experiences
“Brand safety and accountability are critical. But, at the end of the day, helping an advertiser effectively engage their core audience matters the most. To that end, ‘immersive experiences’ were a centerpiece of this year’s event in Cannes, with an emphasis on mobile video, in particular.
“Smartphones continue to grow as a screen of choice for video, rivaling desktop viewership consistently year-over-year. As an example of that, at Oath, we recently conducted a global study that found nearly 60 percent of all consumers watch videos on their mobile phones every day. We are very close to the tipping point where mobile will soon be the number one video screen. With that in mind, the rate at which consumers are adopting immersive, mobile-enabled video formats like VR, 360-degree video, and live video, are surging. These types of experiences help brands reach their audiences in new and unique ways, with interactive storytelling. The technology has also improved to deliver immersion at scale while the audience’s appetite has exploded simultaneously. It’s the perfect storm and that was very clear in conversations we had at Cannes.”

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