Charlene Weisler: Where do you see the media challenges in the next couple of years?
Dave Morgan: I think that the challenges we will have over the next couple of years are probably the ones that we have anticipated, maybe over-anticipated, in the last decade or two. We are getting to a moment in time where the advertising and marketing industry is going to confront several really significant realities.
First, are marketers prepared to really make their advertising or marketing operations a profit center and not a cost center? I see the entry of really significant and smart private equity firms into the consumer brand space and the retail space, whether that is 3G and Burger King or whether that is looking at the folks that took over PetSmart and are now buying Chewy. You will have really smart, numbers-driven people who are not just about cutting costs -- they are actually very smart people -- but smart investment people. They are going to start structurally changing industries, many times through smarter marketing. That is going to have an impact on people who just view advertising and marketing as a cost center without connecting the dots to how you actually drive profits and value and create customers. So that is one bucket.
The other bucket is what we have always talked about and that is that silos will inevitably come apart. The idea that different media or different marketing are valued differently and measured differently. If we become more results focused, cost focused, then it is really easy to figure out what is the common currency. This is something [we] have talked about for many years -- how do you build out a multi-channel currency? It's hard to build out a multi-channel currency if you are trying to equate a cost of an audit bureau circulation number for a newspaper with a BPA number for a magazine, with an ad server impression number for a banner with a YouTube number with a Facebook number with a Nielsen Arbitron number for radio and a Nielsen C3 or C7 or C30 for TV and a comScore/Rentrak number for a secondary currency. It is hard to pull them together and equate them at the commodity level, which everybody does. But if you focus only on the output, sales or exactly how many people did I reach (which is also sales), that is really all that matters. We are on the cusp of bringing all research together -- experimental design and scientific method -- all of that is going to come together and that will probably be the most disruptive thing in our industry.
Weisler: How will blockchain technology impact media?
Morgan: It's a big question. It's like saying "How will electricity impact media?" Blockchain is the core building block technology. [Read Jack Myers' white paper about Blockchain.] Most people know it today because it powers bitcoin which creates a lot of preconceptions and maybe controversy. But fundamentally it is a transparent, de-centralized ledger system that lets you take what would have otherwise been a spreadsheet or a ledger and be able to share it with thousands, tens of thousands of different processors to be able to solve some computing tasks. The ones that tend to work best are very hard to compute, but very easy to verify. In the bitcoin world it verifies what you have in the bank, in your wallet; in the advertising world it will be one of the ways to verify ad delivery. It is a very interesting way to attack things like viewability and fraud because you could never afford to look at all of the Internet protocol addresses of all impression deliveries at the browser level across every supplier. It is highly de-centralized, really efficient and verified against every other point.
Weisler: As well as being privacy compliant and secure as in bitcoin.
Morgan: Right, privacy compliant so you can put out the data anonymized. Now, it is transparent as to its result but it can be anonymized as to its consumer source.
Weisler: I consider attribution to be a very big challenge. Where do you see the perfection of attribution?
Morgan: I say that attribution is in the eye of the beholder. It is going to be determined by the marketer, not by the people who are selling the service. Sure, they will apply their own data as they think it will help in attribution, but it is going to be determined by those that sell things. It will always be an imperfect science but it is becoming a better and better science. And science doesn't just mean focus groups. Science really means being able to understand the multivariate impact of different commercial communication and determining what actually impacts sales. It is not just about classic last click, last exposure but it is really understanding what are those critical heavy swing purchasers and understanding category buyers and understanding the impact on them. This will be done in a very proprietary way.
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