IAB Annual Leadership Meeting 2013: Big Data & Big Ideas

IAB Annual Leadership Meeting 2013: Big Data & Big Ideas


Phoenix, AZ · 02.24.13 - 02.26.13

More than 850 digital thought leaders came together to drive the industry forward February 24-26 at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix for the sold-out 2013 IAB Annual Leadership Meeting—three days of powerful debate and discussion, intense networking, and high-level insights. Focused on the theme “Big Data & Big Ideas: Friends, Enemies, or Frenemies?” the speakers and participants took on one of the hottest topics in advertising.

Conference Summary

Sunday HighlightsMonday HighlightsTuesday Highlights

Sunday Highlights

IAB Annual Leadership Meeting: Day One Highlights


IAB Annual Leadership Meeting 2013: Big Data & Big Ideas
More than 850 advertising thought leaders—publishers, brand marketers, media and ad agency executives, and technologists—gathered on Sunday, February 24, to kick off the sold-out IAB Annual Leadership Meeting in Phoenix.  With “Big Data & Big Ideas” stealing the spotlight, Randall Rothenberg, President and Chief Executive Officer of the IAB, welcomed the crowd and quickly brought the meeting to order.

a-kilgoreRandy Kilgore, Chief Revenue Officer, Tremor Video, took the stage for the first time as the newly elected chairman of the IAB Board of Directors. He made a point that television has become unboxed. TV used to be the experience coupled with the delivery mechanism. Now, it’s just a form of media that can be viewed in numerous ways through numerous devices. But what truly matters is still one thing—connecting brands to consumers in meaningful, human ways. He made note of three truths in this industry. First, digital advertising can and does sell brands. Second, the path forward is in the data. And finally, the more time a person spends with a brand message, the better. Better content means better advertising opportunities.

In the tradition of previous meetings, the 2012 IAB Service Excellence Awards went to IAB members who have demonstrated strong leadership and provided exceptional contributions to one or more significant, completed IAB initiatives over the past year. Review the winner’s list here and be sure to congratulate your peers.

a-silverNate Silver, Author, Statistician, and Founder of FiveThirtyEight.com—one of the nation’s most influential political forecasters—shared several cautionary tales about dealing with the rapid increase in consumer data. Just because the formula came from a machine, doesn’t mean the formula is right, he said. Computers don’t see the relationships, they only execute on the design, potentially producing a nonsensical result. Computers also know what a company’s goals and objectives are, he reminded. They are tools to help businesses reach those goals and monitor progress toward them. Companies need to foster a culture of data, so their teams can learn to use the data the right way.

To close the day’s business IAB recognized individuals and organizations that have demonstrated remarkable success in interactive advertising sales, as determined by the ad buying community, with the IAB Sales Excellence Awards. This year the presentation included a new Leadership in Mentoring Award that went to Dave Simon, Regional Vice President, BrightRoll. Review the winner’s list here and be sure to congratulation your peers. Lastly, everyone in the audience was encouraged to take—and have their teams take—the new IAB Digital Media Sales Certification Exam because a stronger digital sales force makes for a stronger digital industry.

Participants congregated on the Squaw Peak Lawn to chat with old friends, connect with new contacts, and shake on important deals during the welcome reception sponsored by Adobe.

Monday Highlights

IAB Annual Leadership Meeting: Day Two Highlights

The foyer of the Frank Lloyd Wright Ballroom was buzzing Monday morning as IAB Annual Leadership Meeting attendees geared up for the full day ahead, discussing the activities of the night before, and catching up with colleagues, competitors, and new business prospects over breakfast.

IAB Annual Leadership Meeting 2013: Big Data & Big Ideas 3After heading into the general session, attendees listened intently as Randall Rothenberg, President and Chief Executive Officer, IAB, told a story about the history of advertising from print to TV, and how it’s evolved into the long-sought-after utopia of digital advertising. But then, he changed course and challenged the audience: Have we reached that utopia yet or are we entering a new, dark age?  Has our progress in telling great brand stories stalled with the advancement of technology? Have we cluttered the screens too much with “bad science” halting value creation? Then, IAB senior leaders took the stage one by one to explain what IAB is doing to solve this problem.

Rothenberg closed by presenting the founding principles of what he called “Digital Brand Advertising,” a new form of marketing expenditure.

We must:

  • Help marketers unlock the potential of the digital medium to forge authentic connections to build their brands.
  • Improve the craft of advertising and allow agencies to be more brilliant in digital than they have been in television and print.
  • Provide measures that brand marketers, agencies, and publishers alike can embrace as they do in other media.
  • Simplify and lubricate the supply chain to enhance efficiency and confidence.
  • Provide seamless ad experiences across screens, meeting viewers where they consume.
  • Protect consumer privacy fiercely to ensure that trust is pervasive throughout the digital media ecosystem.
  • Make data transparent and a driver of brand context.
  • Have the best people in the ad business and be able to prove it.
  • Unify the digital brand advertising industry globally.

And, Rothenberg said, “When people ask you what you do for a living, say ‘I build brands digitally!’”
Before leaving the stage Rothenberg unveiled the winners of first-ever Digital Video Rising Stars competition—ad units that accelerate use of interactivity in digital video advertising and help bring the sector to scale.

IAB Annual Leadership Meeting 2013: Big Data & Big Ideas 4The morning’s keynote speaker, Jim Speros, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Fidelity Investments, described Big Data as the power to connect things together. Big Data isn’t about processing power or storage, it’s about what you do with that data, he said. It’s about rapid experimentation, smarter decision making, and powerful and predictive insights. At Fidelity, data is the lifeblood of the business. He urged attendees to learn how to organize and unlock it, because companies that use data for a competitive edge are more than twice as likely to outsmart their competitors. But no matter how good the data is, you still need the Big Idea to make it all work. He cited Nike’s “Find Your Greatness” campaign and Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” as examples of game changing ideas. In closing, he wowed the audience with this riveting and inspirational Fidelity digital spot to remind us how powerful and idea and execution can be.

IAB Annual Leadership Meeting 2013: Big Data & Big Ideas 5Michael Wolf, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Activate, and Anil Dash, Co-Founder, Activate, and Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, ThinkUp, illustrated what they called the data cycle. The data cycle, they said, is driven by user experience. What can you understand about your user? Use that data to create great user experiences that help you capture even more data. “Little data,” such as specific actions that a user takes, creates profiles and shadows of users, not a true sense of what people want. That’s were “Big Data” comes in. Analytics and dashboards aren’t the full solution—they can be a distraction. But they are a first step.

IAB Annual Leadership Meeting 2013: Big Data & Big Ideas 6Mike Abbott, General Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, gave a venture capitalist’s view of the burgeoning startup space, and told of opportunities and challenges unfolding in the digital landscape. Between 2012 and 2020 the size of the digital universe will double every 2 years, he said. But one looming challenge is the effective use of data.  Big Data in terms of volume is not new, but successful applications of Big Data activity is still nascent, with only a small fraction of companies latching onto the concept now. We’re still at the early stages of the trend with only 4 out of 10 marketers saying their company has a Big Data strategy. For marketers, he emphasized the need to help bridge the gap in consumer understanding about Big Data, tracking, and privacy—acknowledging that consumers often say they don’t want to be tracked, but then are willing to swap personal information for a special offer. Overall, it’s smart data we’re after, not Big Data, he said—data that will help us use history to predict the future.

IAB Annual Leadership Meeting 2013: Big Data & Big Ideas 7The weather—with its volumes of data used to make predictions—took center stage. David Kenny, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Weather Company, and Curt Hecht, Global Chief Revenue Officer, The Weather Company, are helping marketers think through building advertising strategies around weather data. Weather impacts $5 trillion or approximately 1/3 of the U.S. economy and is the most primal, most universal factor in consumer decision making. Marketers want to know how the weather affects what their consumers are feeling and doing. They want to know: What does 40 degrees mean to someone in Orlando vs. someone in Seattle? What behaviors will change as the temperature changes? Those types of insights are what The Weather Company can provide marketers. On the hot topic of naming winter storms, David Kenny explained that social media saves lives—and when you name something people can more easily talk about it. This sharing is valuable for the business and consumers. It teaches The Weather Company about user behavior and it empowers people to warn friends and family.

IAB Annual Leadership Meeting 2013: Big Data & Big Ideas 8After lunch, industry experts engaged in hot debate on the subject of native adverting. Andrew Essex, Chief Executive Officer, Droga5, asked pointed questions and demanded answers on what native advertising is and whether it’s good for the industry from Chris Cunningham, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Appssavvy;  Meredith Kopit Levien, Group Publisher and Chief Revenue Officer, Forbes Media;  and Jonah Peretti, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, BuzzFeed.  After each shared their definition of native advertising and explained their company’s approach, they drilled down to the details. Levien revealed Forbes’ three strict rules for marketers going native in their BrandVoice product: Is it relevant to the Forbes’ environment? Is it narrative, and not a sales pitch? Can it be transparently labeled as an ad? Peretti stressed the need for brands to develop skills to respond to current events quickly, so they can truly take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves, citing Oreo’s response to the Super Bowl black out. In the end, the room was left with a major question—are the publishers who provide native advertising the industry’s new creative agencies with social platforms the new standardized distributors?

IAB Annual Leadership Meeting 2013: Big Data & Big Ideas 9To be a media and technology company—that’s the plan for AOL according to Chief Executive Officer Tim Armstrong. He suggested Big Ideas come before Big Data, and stressed that there needs to be a balanced approach between programmatic and non-programmatic. Marketers and publishers must not forget about what’s happening on the front of a user’s screen because they’re too focused on the targeting behind that screen, he said.

Ending the full day of sessions, attendee voices held the spotlight. The group split into four town halls each focusing on a major practical issue that is changing in the way the ecosystem operates. Drinks were served as industry thought leaders provoked lively discussion and debates with attendees. Insights from sessions will be presented tomorrow.

Tuesday Highlights

IAB Annual Leadership Meeting: Day Three Highlights

“Our half day today will be as rich and as stimulating as the full day yesterday—but that’s what you come here for,” said Randall Rothenberg, President and Chief Executive Officer, IAB, as he energized the audience for the chock-full, final morning of the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting on Tuesday. His first order of business: to invite volunteers onto the stage to report back the insights gained from Monday’s first-ever Cocktails & Conversations sessions — four town hall meetings where marketplace leaders and event attendees addressed major developments in the industry and how these issues were changing the landscape. The topics at hand were programmatic buying, mobile monetization, the viewability revolution, and scaling native advertising. One common theme from the session was the need for standardized vocabularies to improve workflow and gain efficiency.

IAB Annual Leadership Meeting 2013: Big Data & Big Ideas 10Next, Susan Wojcicki, Senior Vice President, Advertising, Google, applauded online advertising for being the most exciting and important part of the Internet, but she also stressed the need for improvement. Digital advertising of the future should provide: choice for consumers; control for users; charm of interactivity and beauty; connection with on-the-go consumers, and calibration of measurement. These concepts, she said, can make the next 10 years of advertising as exciting, if not more exciting, that the last 10 years.

IAB Annual Leadership Meeting 2013: Big Data & Big Ideas 11“Data can make you rich,” said Scott Howe, President and Chief Executive Officer, Acxiom. By seeking partners with breadth and scale to help enhance single-variant data, publishers and marketers can make data more powerful and lucrative.  However, online data is only a small piece of the larger picture. The industry needs to be talking about people, in a more holistic way. Multi-variant data can be a step in the direction of a more complete picture of the world they live in.

IAB Annual Leadership Meeting 2013: Big Data & Big Ideas 12Henrique de Castro, Chief Operating Officer, Yahoo!, and IAB Board of Directors member, spoke publicly for the second time since taking on his new role at Yahoo! He described a world of Web 3.0—a personalized web, ordered up for each individual users—where big data and delivery come together to provide the right articles and information for each person. The resulting experience is not a content experience or an ad experience but a total, personalized media experience.

IAB Annual Leadership Meeting 2013: Big Data & Big Ideas 13Closing the 2013 meeting, the traditional “Great Debate” lived up to its expectation for generating intense conversation and debate. Kate Kaye, Journalist, Advertising Age, moderated a discussion between Tom Chavez, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Krux; Pam Dixon, Executive Director, World Privacy Forum; Marc Groman, Executive Director and General Counsel, Network Advertising Initiative (NAI); John Simpson, Consumer Advocate, Consumer Watchdog; and Mark Zagorski, Chief Executive Officer, eXelate, about whether consumer data is too sensitive to be in the hands of marketers, agencies, and media companies. All acknowledged that steps have been taken to protect consumer privacy, but didn’t agree that those steps were enough, or even that the steps that have been taken should become standards. Conversation touched on the AdChoices icon and Facebook’s non-standardized use of the icon, Do Not Track efforts, self-regulation, the combination of online and offline data, and more. Everyone agreed is that truly sensitive user data needs to be protected.

Rothenberg closed the 2013 IAB Annual Leadership Meeting with one final announcement: “See you next year in Palm Springs!” Make your reservations early for the event: February 9 — 11, 2014, at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa. The IAB Annual Leadership Meeting always sells out.

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