Cannes 2024 Takeaways: Transparency in Advertising

By OpenX in Transparency|July 3, 2024

Welcome to the three-part Panel Series: Cannes 2024, your front-row seat to the compelling discussions that took place this year. Hosted by OpenX, this series delves into the critical conversations and insights that are shaping the future of advertising.

Balancing transparency and privacy data — like a waiter holding a precarious tray full of glasses of rosé — was top of mind as industry leaders joined “Bridging the Gap: Control vs. Transparency in the Streaming and CTV Landscape,” on the Croisette. 

Geoff Wolinetz, OpenX’s senior vice president of publisher and DSP platforms, sat down with Sam Bloom, head of partnerships at PMG, Rose McGovern, head of programmatic and digital ad sales at DirecTV, and Nate Carter, VP of global agency sales at Dun & Bradstreet, to explain how new methodology is being used to mitigate TV fragmentation and safeguard users’ right to privacy. Here are the key takeaways from our transparency in media panel at Cannes 2024.

Insight one: Outdated KPIs won’t be successful

The popularity of Connected TV (CTV) has skyrocketed as audiences increasingly turn to streaming services for their on-demand content and flexibility in terms of service. This shift has transformed the advertising landscape, with outsized growth projected year over year. In fact, CTV ad spend in the US is expected to surpass $30 billion in 2024, marking an increase of 17 percent from the previous year

Despite all the innovation and change in this space, the stubborn persistence of using display metrics to measure CTV results remains unaddressed. Carter was adamant that applying linear TV metrics to CTV was a poor stop-gap for better available datasets, such as behavioral or contextual targeting.

Using the above data, Dun & Bradstreet can integrate with publishers like DirecTV as well as agencies and confidently inform both parties on more efficient CTV buys. In contrast, buying and measuring linear based on reach and demographics alone (for example, the 25- to 54-year-old age group) using TV ratings and Nielsen panel data is unlikely to drive the results buyers need in a rapidly evolving TV landscape. 

Said Carter, “too often we try to jam future solutions into old measurements, and it ends up leading to bad investments.”

Insight two: SSPs are integral in facilitating universal identifiers

DirecTV’s McGovern spoke on compliance issues, which are leading the programmatic TV industry away from third-party cookies to more persistent identifiers. “How do we use content metadata in a way that’s standardized and also use third parties to be able to protect our customers’ personal data?” she asked rhetorically.

“Having a platform like OpenX in the middle that can read the signals and actually make sure that buyers can use them [is crucial].”

Rose McGovern, head of programmatic and digital ad sales at DirecTV

“I think that’s where third parties come into play, because we need partners that we can trust that we can provide data that then can sit in the middle and standardize it,” she said. She went on to emphasize the importance of passing contextual signals, such as genre, rating, and network, rather than series-level data. By focusing on contextual signals, advertisers can deliver more relevant ads without compromising user privacy.

“Having a platform like OpenX in the middle that can read the signals and actually make sure that buyers can use them [is crucial],” added McGovern. “If it’s not standardized, if the buyer can’t see it or do anything with it, then DirecTV passing it to them isn’t going to make a difference.” 

PMG’s Bloom underlined the importance of getting rid of waste and inefficiencies from the ecosystem. “As you can imagine, [DirecTV] may label their data one thing, and another firm may label it another, so they’re now using AI to connect all these taxonomies,” said Bloom. “And so you get measurements like sentiment, genre, IP, and talent.” He highlighted a recent case study released last month that explored the effectiveness of AI-enhanced, video-level contextual targeting.

“The results are stunning,” added Bloom. “We saw over 150% in sales by getting our audience contextually correct. What we’re trying to do is ensure our client’s creative is contextually relevant to what the audience wants. I think there’s going to be more solutions like that, which enables us to do things differently than the way we’ve done it in the past.”

Insight three: Cleaning up CTV inventory is a team effort

CTV is rapidly emerging as the future of digital advertising, offering unparalleled opportunities for targeted, interactive, and engaging ad experiences. However, to fully realize its potential, the CTV advertising ecosystem needs to address significant challenges related to inventory quality.

“The more garbage we get out of the ecosystem, the more quality players will start to move to the top.”

Nate Carter, VP of global agency sales at Dun & Bradstreet

“All of us built these pipes, and there’s some stuff in the pipes that isn’t great,” lamented McGovern. “It’s not premium content. And unfortunately, buyers are still buying it, which devalues the entire marketplace. So by supporting third-party verification, we’re actually preserving the value of our media.”

Carter echoed her sentiments. “If you’re addicted to bad KPIs and bad measurement, you quickly become addicted to poor quality, because it’s cheaper, and you do get what you pay for,” he said. “But if you can’t measure the results that the quality drives, you end up buying garbage. And so the more garbage we get out of the ecosystem, the more quality players will start to move to the top.”

These conversations have been condensed and edited for clarity.