Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

“Agencies need to reinsert themselves into the supply chain”, Brian Fitzpatrick, IPONWEB

Ahead of our Dragon’s Den-style Innovation Sessions event, we talk to the contestants to discover their views on innovation in our industry, kicking off with digital veteran Brian Fitzpatrick is General Manager, Europe at IPONWEB

What are the biggest challenges for agencies and brands in finding and deploying the best technical innovations?

Many of the major challenges endemic in the programmatic ecosystem are rooted in the erosion of trust in the ecosystem, the distancing between media buyers and sellers, and the commoditization of media buying.

The recent study by the ISBA highlights the fact that supply paths in the programmatic ecosystem are exceedingly complex, fraught with opaque auctions, fraud, brand safety concerns and a proliferation of intermediaries that drain spend out of working media. Echoing the WFA study 6 years prior, there are few aspects of this report that instil trust in the spiderweb of programmatic technology platforms, many of which do not provide value for their interaction within the supply chain.

Increasingly, media buyers are finding themselves further from their target trading partners, increasing the gap between agencies and publishers. Moreover, at the request of their advertisers, agencies have to work across numerous platforms, which results in forecasting, management and reporting difficulties which make it difficult to holistically understand how media is being bought and optimised.

Moreover, as the ecosystem is increasingly dominated by a few major buying platforms, the “one-size-fits-all” media stack, while offering a wide array of standard features, does not provide media buyers with the tools needed for a differentiated media offering. Standard solutions provide limited out-of-the-box optimization and curation capabilities with vanilla tech and supply/data access.

Consequently, agencies and media buyers are competing utilising the same tools as all other players in the market, reducing buying clout, giving the control and decisioning of how the money is spent to the tech providers.

Agencies need to reinsert themselves into the supply chain to provide understanding, insights and strategy ads to how budgets should be spent and work towards goals that are unique and meaningful to their advertisers.

What tech innovation have you been most excited about so far this year?

As a provider of flexible, customisable technology solutions tailored to individual clients, we are always interested in advances in technologies that can be utilised to create and drive differentiation for our clients. AI & Machine learning is an exciting new area that is having a significant impact on the industry and the efficiency of advertisers campaigns and enables agencies and brands to drive differentiated value for their campaigns. ML and AI can help media buyers to execute and optimise complex trading plans, driving towards real business outcomes.

In addition, we are also excited (concerned?) about some of the major initiatives that will have implications for the programmatic ecosystem as a whole. In particular, the initiatives that are being created to deal with the demise of the third-party cookie such as Project ReArc, TURTLEDOVE, and some of the industry led contextual categorisation initiatives are all areas of interest in the hope that the industry will be able to create a solution that can help the ecosystem to continue to thrive while also being compliant and privacy led.

What hyped tech innovation have you been most disappointed in over the last year?

After being much hyped in the year previous, 2019 was going to finally find a use case where blockchain was the solution. Nonetheless, we were disappointed at the evolution of blockchain technology to address some of the issues around transparency and have seen few working examples of how this technology can be utilised at scale.

While there are some live examples of teams that have been able to successfully apply blockchain, notably IBM and MediaOcean, it is still early days in the development of this technology with limited real world applications.

What impact has the pandemic had on innovation in our industry?

The pandemic has created lasting effects on user behaviour which has resulted in the acceleration of a number of market trends that were already underway before the pandemic hit. In particular, the acceleration of digital transformation initiatives of traditional media.

Moreover, the pandemic has given companies time to look at their business and challenge some of the industry norms; outsourcing to third parties has been an efficient way to bring value to agencies, but has had a negative impact on an agencies ability to evolve and develop their own solutions. At the intersection of these two trends, we at IPONWEB have developed an agency solution that is able to drive transformation of agency media buying while helping the agency create unique value for their clients.

What are you most hoping to excite the judges about at the NDA Innovation Sessions event?

We hope to excite the judges with next-generation supply curation and management tools, purpose-built for advanced agency buyers. We have a vision of how to to bring agencies & publishers back together, enabling them to trade transparently on value at scale.

Utilising IPONWEB’s programmatic infrastructure, we hope to show how agencies take back control of programmatic buying, media decisioning intelligence, and supply relations, without disrupting entrenched workflows and platform partnerships, and with limited investment in technology.