15 min read time


Outside The Walled Gardens: Moving the Industry Forward

With the Big Three – that’s Google, Facebook and Amazon – taking up 80% of the digital market, will other players be left to fight for ever diminishing piece of the pie? Or will the pie keep getting bigger, with a larger share to go around? Last week I attended both ATS ExchangeWire in London and Dmexco 2018 in Cologne, two flagship events in our Supply Team’s calendar. After this double dose of presentations, keynotes and inspirational sessions with industry colleagues, here’s a round up of the ideas and takeaways that have stayed with me.

It was very clear from both conferences that the industry is continuing to look for ways to move the industry forward, especially for opportunities beyond the guarded ‘walled gardens’ of the Big Three. (And yes, we enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek actual walled gardens at Google and Facebook stands at DMEXCO).

Whilst it’s a given that technology and innovation have always powered the digital industry, there was a renewed sense of focus on how the right tech and coming-soon disruptions (think 5G and native video) can be harnessed to ensure that companies shapeshift in response to their customers’ evolving needs.

For smaller adtech companies in particular, this requires far more nimble approach; a better match with advertisers’ need to keep the moving target of consumer firmly in their sights.

The growth challenge

Staying agile, being responsive: leveraging the right MADTECH (the intersection of Marketing, Advertising and Technology) is the holy grail for brands and agencies. Being transparent and fully compliant is absolutely critical, particularly in the post GDPR landscape.

It’s interesting to note the rapidly emerging protocols around this key area: 3rd party monitoring, and new standards and levels of cooperation that have been adopted across the entire ecosystem. OpenX CEO and Tim Cadogan and ExchangeWire’s Ciaran O’Kane picked up on this at the ATS event, in their fireside chat on how the new era of compliance is simplifying choices for publishers and brands.

Let’s hope that this open approach shortly extends to bid caching. At both events, speakers and delegates shared their views about how an auction should run, with many well-considered and interesting proposals floated. (But can we really trust a system if we aren’t all abiding by the same rules?)

Battening down the hatches to guard market share, or raindancing at the prospect of the next wave of change? There were elements of both on display last week. For an industry that’s barely 20 years old, that’s probably just business as usual. One thing’s certain, the changes coming over the next few years will create exciting new opportunities for the companies that can match the pace of change.

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