As we conclude the year and the decade, I think back to where I was at this point 10 years ago. I was working with publishers at one of the first and greatest display networks, and we were collaborating with our partners and vendors to ensure the Y2K bug wouldn't cause blank 468x60s and 120x90s to appear across the network (and to the best of my knowledge, it didn't).
Unrealized doomsday fears aside, 1999 was a great time to enter the Internet ad business, and the intervening 10 years have taught me -- and many of us -- a lot about what really matters to the players in our space. Lots of things have improved -- technology, certainly; attitudes around selling strategies, arguably -- but we still get caught up in many of the same challenges that have created inefficiencies in our space for over a decade.
When I toast the beginning of 2010 in a few weeks, on behalf of our industry I'll be wishing for the following:
An end to counting discrepancies. Although there's been a vast improvement on this front, I am amazed that campaigns are sometimes still plagued by discrepancies. It's clear that
all of the stakeholders have made great efforts to reduce these discrepancies, but they are not eradicated. We should strive for the point where even 5% discrepancies are a thing of the past.
An end to pro/anti-network bickering. No, I'm hardly unbiased in this regard and yes, I'm guilty of
it myself. But can't we at least agree that there's no singular "right" answer? I'd argue that many networks have done some great things for publishers as well as for the advancement of our
industry as a whole, but it's also fair to argue that some other networks may have done some not-so-great things over the years. But it's unfair -- and more importantly, unproductive -- to make the
case that networks are absolutely evil or positively angelic. Smart publishers will make their own best decisions around monetization strategies, and arguing absolutes just won't matter.
More standardization. The very best thing to happen to the execution side of our business in 2009 was the emergence and adoption of the VAST standard. VAST compliance allows buyers of inventory to integrate with publishers in a matter of hours, as opposed to custom integration processes that could take days, weeks or months. The efficiencies inherent to VAST enable increased productivity across the board by letting buyers get time-sensitive campaigns up faster, dramatically reducing the potential for errors caused through manual trafficking, and by allowing publishers to significantly reduce trafficking burden. A growing VAST adoption rate coupled with more embracement of standards will benefit all participants in the online video value chain.
It's been an exciting, educational 10 years and I sincerely hope to be participating in this industry in 2019. The next decade will undoubtedly bring us new challenges to solve; let's leave the lingering 20th century inefficiencies behind.