Election highlights Ad:tech State of the Industry panel

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This morning's State of the Industry panel at Ad:tech New York shed some light on how publishers, agencies and their clients see the digital advertising space today.


The panel was moderated by Randall Rothenberg, president and CEO of the Internet Advertising Bureau, and also included Tina Sharkey, chairman and global president of Baby Center LLC; Rob Norman, CEO of Group M Interaction; David Morris, chief client officer of CBS Interactive; and Rob Master, North American media director of Unilever US.


The panel, unsurprisingly, kicked off with talk of the election and the use by both candidates, particularly Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama, of digital marketing and other types of media to get their messages across.


Rothenberg questioned whether the new ways in which consumers view content, like short-form video, are giving advertisers new ways to think about media and ad units.


Sharkey said that newsletters and e-mail consumption are higher than ever.


 “Consumers are picking the information they want to consume as opposed to just visiting a homepage,” Sharkey said, “It's customized media, and it's more targeted.”


The topic of legislation and regulation in the digital marketing space was a sensitive one.

Panelists wondered: How will possible privacy regulation affect interactive advertising?


“We have to be smart as an industry,” Morris said. “We need to be upfront to consumers and users and clear and concise about how and what information we're collecting and how we're using it.”


The Federal Communications Commission, Morris added, is not concerned about a user viewing a video on a new model camera, then visiting a sports Web site and seeing an ad for another camera. The main concerns are centered around children's privacy, health issues and financial statuses, he noted.


Everyone on the panel seemed to think that self-regulation would be most effective.


“We need to keep operating under good business principles,” Sharkey said, “We have to engage as an industry and monitor ourselves. We are the leaders.”


The focus then shifted to direct response: How are companies using it through TV and online in terms of actual sales?


“We don't sell cars or computers,” Master said. “We sell mayonnaise, so tracking is hard. We use analytics and augment our mix models to help define the appropriate metrics. We don't just look at direct response. It is far beyond [just] click throughs.”


“It doesn't matter how engaged [a consumer] is if they're not buying products,” Morris said.


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