Jacqueline Quantrell: how the ad tech industry can help shape the future of advertising

The Cannes Lions festival is an opportunity for marketers and advertisers to come together and celebrate the best of creativity and innovation in digital advertising. Conversations also regularly turn to how ad tech will support brands’ growth and transformation. Here are some key takeaways from this year’s event.

Delivering digital ads in a privacy first era

Inevitably, a big talking point at Cannes was how digital advertising is dealing with the growing emphasis on consumer data privacy and control. In the face of increased regulation and tightening browser restrictions, advertisers have had to rethink their targeting strategies, because, despite the days of cross-site tracking disappearing, companies are still looking to extend reach, retain customers and ultimately make a profit.

As a result, conversations at the festival centred around potential post-cookie solutions. A recent TripleLift survey exploring advertisers’ attitudes towards privacy highlights the urgency of these discussions. It found almost eight in ten UK advertisers haven’t yet implemented such targeting alternatives, and two-thirds of respondents consider ad tech vendors, industry associations and media companies to be responsible for finding these solutions.

While this can be attributed to the difficulty of replacing outdated, previously effective methods, it’s clear marketers are relying on third parties’ expertise to guide them in audience addressability in the privacy-first world.

Solutions-focused conversations at Cannes, therefore, could not have come at a better time. Going forward, the role of ad tech will be to deliver outcomes for businesses while also respecting consumer privacy preferences.

Scaling campaigns through publisher-led initiatives

The major challenge of the third-party cookie’s gradual demise is the loss of easily accessible consumer data, which is crucial to creating and informing effective ad campaigns. At Cannes, one of the key discussion points was first-party data as the most viable replacement for the third-party cookie; providing consented consumer insights for improved targeting and enhanced addressability.

As publishers and media companies have unique and direct access to first-party data — which can include email addresses, onsite interest-based behaviours, information from newsletter sign ups, and more — collaboration was a key theme emerging from Cannes. Conversations highlighted the value of publisher partnerships for brands looking to gain audience insights to inform campaigns.

Building on the importance of first-party data, discussions turned to the role of ad tech in making this often sparse or incomplete data go further. Sophisticated technology can facilitate greater scalability through data enrichment, audience expansion and data collaboration. In turn, this enhanced data means publishers can boost their monetisation opportunities with advertisers.

The predictive capabilities of these AI-powered solutions were also mentioned as a huge benefit, with lookalike modelling creating similar audience segments from existing data to enable reach expansion. Moreover, by anticipating audience behaviours and interests from historical data, predictive modelling can inform content creation and, in turn, advertisers’ targeting strategies.

Driving creative effectiveness through emerging ad formats

Another big trend discussed at Cannes was the changing television landscape, sparking a huge growth of new streaming platforms and content, and how this provides an exciting opportunity for brands. Consumers increasingly want more control over their viewing habits, and ad tech innovation is allowing advertisers to align with this need on streaming services and connected TV (CTV) platforms.

For example, a major talking point at the festival was integrated ad experiences which are driving a new phase of TV advertising. These include ads that form a border around TV shows rather than disrupting them, plus the insertion of brand creative into TV shows themselves using post-production visual effects — powered by ad tech. As a result, brands are able to form positive relationships with consumers; producing engaging ads that also respect their viewing experience.

Conversations at Cannes highlighted that this is an exciting time for digital advertising; we’re seeing more innovation and collaboration than ever before, largely facilitated by ad tech advancements. While there will always be challenges, the underlying sentiment was that the industry was delighted to be back at the festival, and is looking towards the future with great confidence.

Jacqueline Quantrell is chief revenue officer at programmatic ad platform TripleLift.

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