The advertising industry will hit an inflection point this year with the onslaught of metrics, targeting and privacy. Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO at WPP, told the audience at the 4As conference in Los Angeles that WPP will not "sit on top of the shoulders" of others, but continue to develop applications and products needed to generate and analyze data.
WPP invests about $75 billion in advertising for its clients. This year, Sorrell said, WPP will invest for its clients about $2 billion with Google -- up from $1.6 billion last year -- compared with $400 million, up from $200 million, respectively in Facebook.
WPP invested $6 million in Twitter last year, but Sorrell is not sure what the company will invest in 2012.
Data, the double-edged sword, has been called magical and detrimental. Jaron Lanier, partner architect at Microsoft Research, believes it's essential, but the world has entered into a "weird phase" in which advertisers look for this "magic data" that will give them a leg up, and "that's a foolish game."
He said advertisers have entered into the world of scientists, and what ad executives don't realize is that this data can create an illusion if it's not viewed properly.
Lanier, who believes that through technology companies destroy more than they create, warned against thinking that only one company plays the data game and that technology will create more jobs. He said Silicon Valley discovered that applying information systems to a specific industry can shrink it, but grow the company. He also warns that if technology continues to replace a variety of jobs in advertising, the trend could shrink the industry.
Number-based data is not the only metric that advertisers can use. Tools have begun to emerge as a way to visualize metrics. Adometry on Tuesday released an attribution solution that incorporates the ability to view ad impression metrics in its platform Adometry Attribute. It supports Making Measurement Make Sense, a joint industry initiative led by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).
It still takes more than data and technology to make a great advertisement. The ideas created by ad executives become a powerful asset to brands, yet none have their own line item in a profit and loss (P&L) statement. Bill Koenigsberg, president, CEO and founder of Horizon Media, called ad execs "modern day explorers" as the industry continues to explore technology and combine with creativity.