Programmatic IO Monday Recap: Commerce, Identity And Investment Trends

agency reviewAdExchanger’s Programmatic IO Virtual conference entered the final stretch on Monday with sessions focused on ecommerce, identity and investment trends. Below are some highlights. The final day of proceedings will kick off this Wed. Oct 21 at 1:05 pm ET. Click here for the agenda.

Consumers’ mad dash to ecommerce has forced a parallel scramble by brands, publishers and technology companies whose fortunes depend on reaching them.

“Trade marketing is huge, trillions of dollars,” Criteo CEO Megan Clarken said during a fireside interview.

Yet only 20% of those budgets are spent in digital, she added: The rest go to things such as cardboard cutouts and privileged placement on grocery shelves.

That’s going to change, she says, and companies that can connect offline to online will benefit. Criteo wants to be one by leveraging its historic place as the reigning monarch of retargeting to push into other areas.

“What’s been important is to transform the company from yesterday to its future. I’ve talked about becoming more of a full stack DSP,” Clarken pointed out, but that doesn’t mean going after The Trade Desk on its own turf. “I look more toward an Amazon than I do toward a Trade Desk. We’re all in this together though. There’s plenty of room and a lot to do for advertisers.”

Money flows

The strength of tech valuations, including Criteo and – especially – The Trade Desk, is a big reason why the stock market is so out of whack with the United States’ still-faltering economy. That’s unlikely to last, according to Elgin Thompson, managing director of technology investment banking at JMP Securities.

“We expect there will be a correction that drives the equity markets to be more closely aligned with the broader US economy,” Thompson said. “We believe there will be a catalyst that drives a sharp correction rather than … a gradual correction.”

In his presentation on investment trends, Thompson charted factors influencing M&A outcomes this year and next. Large strategic players have the cash on hand to fuel consolidation but are so far holding their cards.

“In recessions the strong get stronger and the weak get weaker,” he said. “The technology bellwethers that traditionally fund acquisitions … have cash positions in excess of $5 billion. These should be well-positioned to fuel acquisitions.”

Private equity companies too are well capitalized with $1.6 trillion in dry powder. All the same, Thompson’s market conversations suggest financial sponsors are being careful.

“There is a flight to capital to the best of the best,” he said, a bit fatalistically. “The digital disruption that has been promised has happened.”

Solving for identity

As “correction” is to “investing,” so “identifier apocalypse” is to “advertising.” Timing: uncertain. Probability: inevitable.

In an information-packed presentation, Advertiser Perceptions VP of Business Intelligence Lauren Fisher offered a deep dive on how marketers and other stakeholders are thinking about available identity solutions in the market. She drew on data from a survey jointly conducted with AdExchanger (and available soon to AdExchanger members).

Among the study’s conclusions: Advertisers are relying on identity solutions as an integrated service that is bundled with media and technology offerings. They are, on average, using more than four separate identity services from the likes of Google, Facebook, Amazon, Salesforce, Adobe, LiveRamp and The Trade Desk.

“A majority of … advertisers would love for someone else to solve the problem,” she said.

But they are not waiting idly by. Fully 65% are relying more heavily on ID graphs built on first-party data.

Meanwhile, unsurprisingly, there is a shift underway to omnichannel measurement tools such as sales lift research, Fisher said: “It gives us back capabilities to right-size some of our efforts and rethink how we are approaching things.”