On September 18th, the AAX team joined with leading minds at the vanguard of programmatic for a day of sharing insight, strategy, and passion-fueled ideas.
In other words: we attended World Forum Disrupt Programmatic New York.
The talents behind World Forum Disrupt created a platform designed with the mission of challenging. Because of this, we made sure that we arrived ready to be challenged, ready to challenge, and ready to develop and participate in open dialogue.
The conversations we participated in were helped, in large part, by the fact that World Disrupt Programmatic marked the first time Tim Cronin gave a keynote speech in his role as AAX’s VP of Sales. This presentation became what Cronin referred to as "the coming out party for the Acceptable Ads program and for AAX ."
There was also another, more vital, reason why Cronin's keynote was so important. As the new faces in town, AAX wanted to make sure that we had a chance to facilitate discussions on the state of ad blocking.
Hart Gliedman, AAX Director of US Sales, explains: "It was incredibly useful that Tim Cronin was given the stage to present AAX to the Forum, because was able to properly explain our unique value proposition to prospective publishers of the highest quality."
We had a number of fascinating dialogues at World Forum Disrupt Programmatic, and we wanted to share five key subjects that we discussed at length.
#1 Ad Blocking: How Did We Get Here?
When asked about his keynote speech, Tim Cronin spoke enthusiastically about the event, praising the publishers and the atmosphere of change.
"It was interesting to see what people's priorities and questions were. People were curious about the evolution of ad blocking. Basically, the surplus in online inventory created a supply and demand imbalance—premium publishers’ revenue gets squeezed in such an environment. As a result, many were forced to make up revenue by serving more, or larger format and flashier ads. And this drove up the use of ad blockers by the most sensitive and technical consumers.”
# 2 Privacy Is The Key
But other factors prompted the advent of ad blocking—what Doc Searls called “the greatest boycott in human history.” As Gliedman explains, this is partially the result of a misunderstanding. "Concerns over privacy are a big reason why people install ad blockers in the first place," he says.
World Disrupt Programmatic was abuzz with discussions surrounding GDPR and third party vs. first party cookies. According to Gliedman, that's a discussion that needs to occur.
"Having less data on the user? That's the world that AAX lives in," he says, adding, "Programmatic without user data is the future."
#3 Mobile Is The Future
Another, adjacent topic that dominated dialogues concerned mobile. (For more on the mobile-related conversations occurring at World Disrupt Programmatic, check out Kristina Hahn and Gabrielle Heyman's insights on the subject.)
"A lot of traffic is going mobile. Mobile relies on cookies," says Cronin. "Safari just stopped allowing third party cookies, and other browsers are thinking of doing the same. This is a big deal for publishers—the industry is faced with more challenges than ever."
# 4 What's Broken Was Already Broken…
Gliedman stressed how important it was to let everyone know about the evolution of Acceptable Ads.
"The system is broken," he says. "The trust between users and websites is broken. But it's already been broken. That's why ad blocking emerged in the first place."
# 5 …But It Can Be Fixed
This broken system, asserts Cronin, is the reason that he was so enthusiastic about delivering “Ad Blocking Is Dead,” his keynote speech.
"It's time to restore the value exchange," he says. "Acceptables Ads allow users to support their favorite sites in a way that benefits all parties. It's possible to meet in the middle."