“Next Year Will Be The AI Moment Of Truth For Brands”: Quantcast ANZ MD Andrew Double

“Next Year Will Be The AI Moment Of Truth For Brands”: Quantcast ANZ MD Andrew Double
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The rise of artificial intelligence, the future of video advertising and why 100 per cent viewability is not all it’s cracked up to be – these were just some of the topics covered during B&T‘s recent catch-up with Quantcast’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand, Andrew Double.

It’s turned out to have been quite a busy year for Quantcast. What would you say has been the highlight? 

The common theme for Quantcast Australia throughout 2017 has been growth, in terms of our team (which has grown by nearly 40 per cent this year), our business, and the brands we work with. Talent is our number one priority, and we’ve seen job applications go through the roof, with interest increasingly coming from more well-established employers in the Australian market including Yahoo7 and News Corp. This demonstrates our growing desirability as an employer in the market. We’ve also seen significant year-on-year revenue growth in a challenging market where many digital businesses have declined. 

At the same time, we’ve been expanding the ways in which we can deliver value for brands and help them grow. This includes our partnership with Quantium announced earlier this year to connect online advertising to offline sales for Australian marketers, agencies and publishers. As part of this partnership, we have campaigns running with brands including Virgin Australia, Australian Pork and Moccona. 

How is Quantcast looking to grow in 2018 and beyond? 

Quantcast is an artificial intelligence (AI) technology business focused on the marketing industry. While AI has reached peak-hype in 2017, it’s going to shift from buzzword to reality in 2018. Next year will be the moment of truth for brands when it comes to applying machine learning and AI to more accurately anticipate changes in consumer demand, target campaigns, and – especially in an environment of increased accountability – measure success. Those that invest earlier will see more long-term success due to the compounding effects of this technology. 

Quantcast has been applying AI know-how to massive amounts of online audience data for more than a decade, and we’re well placed to help marketers navigate what can be a confusing topic as they adapt to the age of AI. Our data modelling is designed to help marketers reach the right people effectively, whether for brand or performance-based campaigns. 

What are some of the common misconceptions Aussie advertisers have about their clients/customers prior to working with Quantcast? 

Marketers have traditionally relied on surveys or panel data to inform their thinking. While a step up from gut-instinct, it is still a partial and an often out-of-date snapshot of what’s really going on. 

Today’s consumers are more prone to shift their habits than ever before. It’s impossible for any human to accurately track the growing and evolving set of signals from online consumer behaviour, let alone apply them effectively to an online marketing campaign. That’s where AI really comes into its own. 

With our unique live audience insights from more than 20 million Australian internet users, we can apply AI to a huge live dataset to reveal the truth of how consumers are really interacting with a brand. It’s not unusual for advertisers to discover entirely new and unexpected audience segments during this process, growing revenue as a result. 

It appears advertisers are increasingly wanting 100 per cent viewability. Is that possible yet, and if not, when will it be? 

Viewability in isolation does not equal return on investment. We want to encourage advertisers to look at all metrics with one view to get a true picture of how their campaigns are performing. Are their ads reaching the right audience at the right time in the buying cycle? Are they tapping into new and unexpected segments? Are they anticipating shifts in consumer demand and getting there before their competitors? These are all important questions that we see from marketers generating the best results from their campaigns. They don’t focus on any one metric alone. 

Viewability is also a subjective topic. What counts as a 100 per cent viewable ad is less clear-cut than it seems. Of course, clients can pay a premium for 100 per cent viewability today, but with that comes some trade-offs in wider performance. Technology may change some of these elements in the future, but we’d encourage brands to take a wider view for now. 

How do you see video advertising evolving over the next five to 10 years? 

The idea that video advertising will continue to grow over the next five to 10 years seems like a safe bet. The formats, targeting and measurement are less clear due to the pace of technological change. The focus will be around understanding consumer behaviour, targeting and measurement of video advertising as production and consumption explodes. 

I expect the emphasis will shift to targeting, away from pure inventory-based buying (for example, from direct websites). Inventory is incredibly important and the metrics for video success will change in the following ways: 

  1. Video measurement metrics will be standardised across the industry. 
  1. These metrics will align with offline and other marketing channels that use video advertising. 
  1. Ultimately, all metrics will align with a client’s business outcomes. For example, if a client is looking to increase brand awareness, they will look to measure the impact and engagement of their customers rather than, for example, focus on viewability in isolation. 

What’s the challenge biggest advertisers face going forward? 

A total of 90 per cent of all digital ad campaigns are run on a ‘last ad, last click’ basis. This over-simplified measurement has been the root of many of the challenges the industry is experiencing today, from ad fraud to brand safety. The biggest challenge for the industry is to educate CFOs, CEOs and CMOs of the value of moving away from these metrics and looking at the full online customer journey that has led to a purchase. 

Billions of dollars annually are pumped into TV and outdoor advertising based on nothing more than partial research into demographics and brand studies to back up those decisions. Despite this, too many marketers still insist on directly linking the very last online action a consumer takes to a purchase, despite clear evidence that many other engagements with the brand will have had an impact on their decision along their purchase journey. 

The challenge to advertisers is to move away from ad server and CPA results, and measure their digital advertising in the same way as they measure their business outcomes: revenue and growth. Ad dollars should be directed to the channels that deliver return on investment. 

Secondly, we’re in a market with a thirst for insights and understanding more about campaign performance. The challenge is there is a lack of optimisation to fuel digital campaigns and allow advertisers to draw actionable insights that can be used offline and across other channels.

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