The unexpected disruption of ad tech in 2016

Be prepared for the coming adtech-martech mashup

If there is innovation and ingenuity to make marketing more ubiquitous, expect there to be equally innovative ways developed to hide from that ubiquity.

Before it became an obvious act of etiquette, live events would typically begin with a request that attendees turn off their phones or set them to “vibrate” mode. Imagine the difference instead if, when you joined us at Ad Tech Canada, we disabled all calling and data capabilities on your devices by default, so that we could be confident the experience we wanted to have would not be interrupted.

The end result would be outrage, of course, and possibly a stampede for the exit doors. How dare we put the experience we want to create ahead of your ability to send and receive messages? This, in some ways, is a good metaphor for what’s happening with ad blocking at the moment. Some consumers are no longer willing to give brands the opportunity to build trust by being more targeted and relevant. They want to cut off those opportunities entirely.

Of course, ad blocking apps are not normally what we would associate with “ad tech.” Traditionally, we’ve been more focused on technologies that help make ads more pervasive, not less. This includes retargeting, the use of programmatic marketplaces or expanding the touchpoints for connected digital experiences. Ad blocking is one of the first, but probably not the last attempts to wrest some of that control back by consumers. Think of it as a rebuttal to the promise of what ad tech was supposed to offer marketers.

Ad Tech Canada 2016: The Prebrief
Backgrounders, industry experts and conversation starters for the future of marketing

With AdTech Canada 2016, we decided it made sense to put together an agenda that both acknowledged the reality of ad blocking and attack it head-on. Our “debate” is not intended to be a session where one side wins and the other loses. It’s about exploring what the world looks like if ad blocking, in some form or another, is here to stay.

We also wanted to balance the challenges of ad blocking with insight on how programmatic is maturing with private marketplaces, and how the Internet of Things could create entirely new environments for connecting brands with consumers. What connects all of these things is the notion that technology can play a huge role – nearly as huge as the creative itself – in shaping the emotional response consumers have to a marketing campaign.


This is vital discussion because the forces pushing and pulling at ad tech today could have much more significant implications before too long. In January, for example, an article on MediaPost suggested that marketing technology, or martech, could wind up displacing adtech we know it or simply swallowing it whole:

“Over the next five years we will see ad tech supplanted, albeit short-circuited, by technology and companies that directly serve marketers and their enterprises – rather than ad industry ecosystem intermediaries, where most ad tech today is centered. Think closed-loop marketing platforms, omnichannel data mining, prospect profile management systems and dynamic messaging and pricing systems.”

Even if ad tech becomes just a piece of a larger martech piece, however, the problems that have led to ad blocking will remain. Brands in every category are going to have to work harder to earn permission to contribute to the way content is experienced by consumers. If there is innovation and ingenuity to make marketing more ubiquitous, expect there to be equally innovative ways developed to hide from that ubiquity.

AdTech Canada is a chance for us to bring a community together that brainstorms approaches that will extend the reach of marketing campaigns while building a better case for consumers to offer their attention and, ultimately, their trust.

Got your tickets for AdTech Canada on March 29? Ad blocking is just one topic being discussed by our expert speakers and industry luminaries. Tickets are still available. Be sure to Register today!

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