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Five Minutes With: Ittai Shiu, VP Creative Strategy at Exponential

What are your biggest opportunities & challenges in marketing tech for next 12-24

We constantly hear about the growth of digital ad spends and how they will overtake TV. This represents a huge opportunity, but the challenge arises from a vast and increasing amount of technologies and platforms marketers can use. In ad tech, specifically, agencies and brands are sifting through the clutter for solutions that drive campaign performance and user engagement – across multiple devices.

What keeps your clients up at night?

Clients are thinking about a number of topics: Where can we best funnel our money; how do we know what actually works? How can my message stand out in all of the noise? What metrics should be utilized to measure campaign impact?  How can I be cost-effective, but mindful of quality, viewability and fraud?

Ad tech is far from simple, but we should at least simplify the way we think about campaign success. As advertisers, we should focus on aggregating actionable data that shows we are reaching the right consumers, providing powerful, brand-immersive experiences for them, and ensuring that our metrics align to support the goals we want to achieve. Advertisers can be innovative about achieving these goals, but not at the expense of the
consumer experience or the publisher, who may lose credibility due to an overly intrusive or irrelevant ad experience.

Advertisers must achieve those goals while protecting all involved parties, including brands that risk wasted impressions on the wrong audience, users who may get frustrated with an overly intrusive ad experience clearly not meant for them, and publishers whose content may lose credibility unless they respect the consumer journey.

What’s the hardest thing to educate clients about?

As consumer technologies proliferate, a brand’s message has numerous, complex ways to reach its intended user. This results in more choices, more solutions and more metrics. How does an advertiser choose?  For example, engagement metrics can be a difficult concept for clients to grasp–and it’s all too easy to stick to comfortable, antiquated metrics such as completed views or clicks. However, these metrics are not as strong indicators of true brand engagement as interaction rates, for example.

We’ve also found it difficult to educate clients on appropriately valuing the user and user experience. Untargeted video play is cheaper than an interactive experience, but engaging with a qualified user is clearly more valuable.

What are some unmet needs in marketing technology landscape?

As mentioned, there is a large need for streamlined solutions across digital screens and marketers need to consider how to leverage these solutions to create a brand-consistent, immersive cross-screen experience.

Powerful ad experiences begin with mindful, interactive and user-first creative. More specifically, we find that video-driven formats, such as our VDX units, catch and maintain user attention because they prioritize the user experience first.

Further, bringing these creative solutions across screens requires a scalable, plug-into-programmatic, brand engagement platform that also extends to different ad formats.

How do you see mobile advertising changing over the next year?

An increase of screens gives us a lot more opportunities to access consumers during key moments.   When mobile advertising saw a boom a few years ago, marketers struggled with how to develop campaigns (think creative, metrics, targeting) that are true to the mobile space. Now, with more knowledge around mobile usage and behavior, and armed with platforms to reach users on mobile, we’ve evolved our ‘mobile mindset’.

Creatively, it’s a huge opportunity for brands to link the user experience from one device to another – a digital stream, if you will. A brand’s message should flow from one screen to another, seamlessly connecting the experience for users across the devices they’re using. Advertisers may now optimize by device and adapt the brand’s experience through responsive design, taking the brand experience to a whole other mobile-specific 

We’re only going to see mobile marketing improve in targeting and creativity; it will be exciting to see how these will progress.

–Ittai Shiu is VP for Creative Strategy at Exponential.

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