Trust in Whom? Immediate Sell-side Takeaways from DMEXCO 19
So, DMEXCO 2019 is over. Trust me, I was there. After two days of non-stop pitches, debates, and parties that brought together some of the top talent, decision-makers, and innovators from across the globe, here are some personal snap takeaways from a one-of-a-kind event.
Trust in Whom?
The Digital Marketing inudstry is at a crossroads, between the new possibilities that ad tech offers us and the consequences of how these new possibilities are implemented. Often enough, and as the last year has undoubtably shown, legislation is unable to keep up with the pace of innovation, and the burden of responsiblity falls on the advertiser, the platform, and the tech innovators themselves. For me (full transparency here 😎) as CEO and co-founder of Spaceboost, it was an eye-opening experience, but overall, an extremely positive one. Here’s why.
The Ethics of AI to the fore
If you weren’t at DMEXCO, take a look at some of the conference titles below (or watch some of the videos on the DMEXCO page), and understand that while everyone was talking about ad tech innovation and the increasingly wide-ranging possibilities these can offer, they were also considering the implications of these innovations, both as digital marketers and as members of society trying to create a better future.
- Fighting Human Bias in Ad Tech
- Big tech under observation – after years of watching us, is now being watched (With Robert McNamee)
- Google’s Matt Brittin: Putting Privacy First (on how trust is earned by advertisers – and that growth is possible while respecting privacy)
- and many more besides…
This was only my second DMEXCO as an exhibitor, but the focus that the organizers, attendees, and speakers put on addressing the ethical implications of what we do as digital marketing leaders was both striking and inspirational.
User Privacy vs Mass Personalization
In short, the main conflict that I observed at DMEXCO 19 was responding to equally urgent user demands for both personalization and privacy. The question is: how do you turn over control to AI without compromising on the rights of those same individuals? What can seem like gamification on the advertiser’s side can often end up manifesting as privacy invasion user-side. Balance and compromise is essential. It is clear that sustainable growth will be achieved by finding the sweet spot between increasing consumer expectations for personalization and an ever-rising bar for privacy. Personally, I think this Twitter poll from Adobe speaks volumes.
The point is this: at this scale, it has to be society that decides where that limit lies. Transparency is the key. If your ethical values are built into the solution you are providing, there will be nothing to hide. If you’re not sure what you’re automating is ethical, perhaps you shouldn’t be automating it in that way.
The Spaceboost Take: Transparency Above All
We’re working to make advertising better. What does that mean?
We’re here to save time for advertisers who want to reach their potential customers, yes, but as we see it, part of our goal is also to help customers be more effectively connected with the precise service they are looking for when they start typing into a search engine. Though there are algorithms at work, there’s no black box involved here. You can see exactly what our platform does. We simply let advertisers convert the information they have about their products or services into extensive campaigns of precise ads about those products or services. We let them do it quickly, and in a way which facilitates the use of Machine Learning to identify which ads work best, and how to automatically distribute their budget to get the best return from ad spend.
Better advertising all around
The result is better advertising. For the advertiser and the consumer. When ads get more and more specific – showing exactly what someone wants to the person who wants it exactly when they want it – for us that’s a win-win situation. And the more precisely the sell of the ad is backed up, the more brand-consumer trust is built.That’s what we’ll be working on until the next DMEXCO, at any rate.