Last month, we organized the first edition of AUDIENCE, a high-level conference dedicated to digital media professionals. We brought together a couple hundred media professionals – brands, advertisers, agencies, publishers, content creators, and platforms – to take a look at a subject that gets a lot of attention – AdTech- from a different angle. A few years back, Appnexus president Michael Rubenstein told me “we’re not AdTech. We’re just advertising, and advertising is now tech-driven, like all sectors.” The question “What isn’t tech?” has driven Rude Baguette from its beginning, and with AUDIENCE, we organized a (n ad)tech conference that wasn’t about tech. Instead, it was about reaching an audience, monetizing an audience, building an audience, understanding an audience. These are problems that everyone faces, independent of technology, and we looked at how platforms enabled this activity.
We split the day up into platforms & media, going from Mobile to Video, to Social to Native, and wrapping up with Print and other old school formats that are getting reinvented. Vidcoin co-founder Grant Gudgel kicked off the day with great insights into what makes Mobile mobile – what characterizes a mobile user, and how anyone looking to engage with an Audience on Mobile can rethink what differentiates a mobile user from, say, a generic user on desktop.
Vidcoin built out the first programmatic video ad network that goes beyond pre-roll and post-roll, and actually pre-caches their video onto an app so users don’t abandon partner videos due to bad internet connection. The point is – UX Matters – and this echo’d throughout the entire day, whether it was Buzzfeed talking about how they approach every platform with the mindset of “how do we natively exist on Tumblr, YouTube, email, etc.” or whether it was Grandi Stazioni, the Italian company that operates all of the Italian train stations, who asked themselves how they could create a connected experience with traditional video billboard advertisement.
Fraud & Viewability
Still, we managed to drill down into what makes the digital era of advertising great: the ability to quantify results: eyeballs, clicks, purchases, views, viewtime, engagement – we’ve gone from having no quantifiable metric beyond ‘food traffic’ to having so many that it becomes a full-time job just understanding which metrics matter. Comscore gave a great talk on one of the most basic metrics: is your ad being viewed? It turns out, not always.
Be A Digital Native
One of the best talks we came from Buzzfeed’s Brandon Keenan, who broke down how Buzzfeed approaches every platform, every device, every distribution outlet for their content from a native perspective, trying less to pull users into their central media, and more looking at how that platform can be best used to achieve their end goal: sometimes a post on Tumblr is just a post on Tumblr, Keenan says.
Our Vision: Organizing Tech Conferences that Don’t Suck.
We’ve been organizing what some would call sector conferences for about 3 years now – Connected Conference’s 3rd edition is coming up in May, and the first edition of SPEND is coming up April 28th (tickets on sale now) – and our philosophy internally has been to focus less on building great events, and more on building events that don’t suck. Instead of paying big-name speakers to come out and throwing crazy parties, we provide great discussions on stage and attract quality participants: our panels mixed together content creators like Buzzfeed or Golden Moustache, platforms like Doubleclick, Comscore, VidCoin & JCDecaux, and agencies big (TBWA) & small (Loaded for Bear). What makes those conversations interesting isn’t just that the participants know what they’re talking about, it’s that we don’t put 4 mobile adtech companies on stage and ask them the future of mobile, we put a publisher, a brand, an agency & a platform on stage and ask them how they see mobile.
AUDIENCE will return in 2017, that’s for sure: if you’d like to join us for the next edition register here