OMMA Behavioral: The Left Coast 'Welcome to the Machine' Tour

Next Wednesday the MediaPost crew rolls into San Francisco to mark the fourth year of semi-annual OMMA Behavioral shows. We are calling this edition "Targeting 2.0: Welcome to the Machine." The online ad landscape has changed dramatically since we first met for these shows -- literally on the day that AOL acquired Tacoda. Now, behavioral targeting sits within a dizzying "stack" of data layers, real-time technologies, verification schemes, supply-side and demand-side models and ongoing debates over which behaviors matter most when building audiences for your clients. Why 'Targeting 2.0?" Because we will be spending much of the day exploring and explaining the new complexity and challenges of audience targeting that have been added to "the stack" in just the last year.   

Mediabrands' Chief Digital Officer Quentin George will kick us off by drilling into the theme of the show -- the nature of the new machine. He will explore the dimensions of this emerging "semantic Web" and how machine logic is being used increasingly to find meaning and intent in content and expressions found online. What happens, George asks, when machines learn what we are really interested in?  

Likewise, our traditional agency panel will bring together the buyers, planers and even creatives to situate behavioral data within that new gearbox of mechanized audience-building and ad serving. Where is behavioral in this new gusher of "data"? 

At every OMMA Behavioral show we like to focus on one specific segment of the market, to see in greater detail how behavioral targeting and analysis are being used there. This time we focus on retailers who leverage BT both on their own sites and in their own ad buying and retargeting efforts. This will be a super panel, with eBay, Zappos, Omniture/Adobe, Akamai and Extra Space Storage all contributing. These companies are making some of the most sophisticated uses of BT throughout their marketing and merchandising mix.

In our next block of content, we engage the emerging and complex supply chain in display advertising. Chip Hall, head of buyer development for Google Ad Exchange, will discuss how the chain has evolved, offering new challenges and opportunities for all. Google of course just got into the DSP game itself with the acquisition of Invite Media.

Speaking of DSPs, SSPs, and the rest of the alphabet soup of current ad technology, we have assembled a who's who of ad targeting to unravel the knotty supply chain. Some of the charter members of the BT fraternity (Richard Frankel, Jeff Hirsch, Omar Tawakol and Nathan Woodman) are joined by Initiative's Dan Ho to help clarify a tech tangle that is challenging everyone's cognitive skills at this point.

In the afternoon we drill into some of the details surrounding the hot topics surrounding BT. What are we to make of this new self-regulatory regimen that many agencies, tech companies and publishers are adopting? In an afternoon presentation, BetterAdvertising will walk us through the new "Power I" icon that is going to be appearing in ad campaigns and on web sites to ensure greater transparency on online privacy and personal control over data.

Of course the flip side of privacy is the unrestrained personal expression that Web 2.0 social media hath wrought. But everyone seems to have their own idea and model for best leveraging the information this new social sandbox renders. We bring in a mix of data vendors, an agency, a major brand (Research in Motion) and a social media company to get our heads around the relationship of social to BT.

The new platforms and technologies really do seem to change everything, even the most fundamental and reliable of BT techniques, retargeting.  Dynamic ad creation, integration with the new ad-serving tools and demands for greater accountability and control over ad placement all keep retargeting evolving, as we will see in the next panel on the agenda.

Considering that this is a show about change and the new complexity in ad technology, I thought it appropriate to circle back a bit on history. Back in the day, behavioral targeting started mainly as a publishers' tool for better leveraging their own audiences and inventory. But with all of the emphasis now on demand-side, audience-building platforms, what is the role of context and the supply-side? I brought together a panel of publishers along with an agency and a DSP to surface an issue that is not being discussed enough explicitly: is demand-side thinking eroding the value of context?

It is a full plate at next week's show, because the changes occurring in the ad technology space and behavioral targeting are that formidable. Hope to see you there. And if we don't check in on Wednesday with our hashtag #OMMABehave and the Mediapost Raw live blog from the event: http://www.mediapost.com/blogs/raw/

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