Possible Miami Calls For A Return to Common Sense

Industry growth has overshadowed the core tenets of what makes good advertising

The Possible Conference in Miami generated a ton of buzz last week, perhaps warranting its all caps spelling — “POSSIBLE” — with some even going so far as to call it the Cannes of the US

Similar to South France, there was plenty of boozy schmoozing under the sun, though there were also some sobering messages. 

Gary Vaynerchuck of VaynerMedia, for instance, declared the industry needs a “boost of common sense,” adding that it should start prioritizing consumers over industry players. This was clearly felt during a panel dubbed “The Future of Measurement,” which focused on how the industry has seemingly run amok to squash the most important facets of successful advertising: quality creative placed on quality content that ultimately drives sales, panelists said. 

Jonah Goodhart, co-Founder of Mobian and Attain board member, moderated the panel with executives from Ally Financial, Attain, Dumbstruck, and Time Inc. Here, we share three main takeaways. 

Is Anything ‘Safe’ Anymore? 

Although made-for-advertising (MFA) sites are running rampant as long as they don’t have any negative keywords, premium publishers such as Time are unfairly getting dinged for brand safety. Articles flagged include Time’s Taylor Swift’s “Person of the Year” feature, a profile on OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, and even an article about the James Webb telescope; in a recent campaign with Microsoft, for example, a staggering 43% of impressions on Time were deemed unsafe (the brand asked for its money back, Jessica Sibley, CEO of Time Inc., said during the panel). 

To be clear, these sort of brand safety issues have been ongoing for years. That’s because assessing brand safety requires nuance, and a word or phrase should not be looked at in a vacuum, much like performance metrics. Across the board, a way to look at measurement holistically seems to be the major unmet need, which Goodhart’s latest venture Mobian aims to solve. 

Are Sales the Ultimate Goal? 

With what feels like thousands of performance metric acronyms and measurement proxies, it’s almost too easy to forget that all digital advertising intends to drive a sale. “We don't think about sales outcomes as something that just happens in a performance nature,” Attain CEO Brian Mandelbaum said during the panel. “All signals should come together and generate the one final thing, which would be a sale.” 

Cookie deprecation has caused the tides to shift in favor of first-party transaction data and second-party commerce data, yet it’s still a nascent form of measurement for many marketers. Additionally, data is still incredibly siloed. “A lot of these signals like suitability, safety, emotion — they're generally put in vacuums, and they're looked down one narrow lane. They're not observed in context to everything,” Mandelbaum added. 

Creative Should Still Reigns Supreme 

Amongst all the cookie deprecation noise, endless programmatic optimizations, and hundreds of measurement vendors, the bedrock of advertising — the creative — is at risk of being forgotten. “In the last couple of years I've experienced marketers effectively spend 100% of their non-working budget on targeting and measurement, and by and large, ignore the ‘what we see,’ when all the latest research shows that the creative is what's driving the scale,” Dumbstruck CEO Jeff Tetrault said during the panel. 

Kevin Howard, Ally Financial’s executive director of digital marketing strategy and innovation, reassured attendees that creativity is still the company’s north star. “Creative is a lost art in many cases, and I think it's still hugely important in the equation,” said Howard.

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