Brands want to know where, when and how often their competitors' ads run. And they want to tie the information to the way they buy media using a variety of data. These are issues that engineers at Kantar Media have been working hard to solve, said Manish Bhatia, CEO of North America at Kantar Media, a WPP company.
Despite the difficulty of answering these questions, a few unnamed clients have been testing new technology that Kantar has been working on in the hope of making it more applicable to a broader customer base, he said.
Bhatia's demeanor lightens when talking about complicated technologies like Blockchain and how artificial intelligence wrapped in data can automate the process of bidding and serving the exact ad at the perfect time. "People make programmatic and digital technology more complicated than it need be," he said.
It's also worth mentioning that this CEO has a history of working at comScore and Nielsen, both entrenched in data.
Earlier in July, Kantar Media announced the addition of programmatic data into its ad insights platform. The platform tracks advertising across all media from digital to television, radio and billboards, and analyzes the route the ad took to serve up in front of the viewer. Bhatia cited keeping track of double and triple bidding on the same ad impressions as one of the biggest issues that programmatic solves.
Bhatia believes Blockchain can play a very important role in making the ads' journey more transparent. Right now "there are few ways for advertisers to know who all the parties were in the chain that touched the ad, and how that might have impacted cost."
One constant theme in Bhatia's life has been to embrace the unknown. "Don't be afraid if you don't know the answer to a question," he said. "Just dive headfirst and sort it out. In digital, you keep moving the ball forward. Keep building solutions. It may not have all the answers to all the questions, but keep evolving and moving the ball forward to create progress."
It reminds him a little of the book he was reading at the time of this discussion, "The End of Advertising: Why It Had to Die, and the Creative Resurrection to Come" by Andrew Essex. "I'm thinking about giving a copy to everyone in the office," he said.
In the book, published in June, Essex describes how advertising has always been highly disruptive.
"You open a newspaper to read an article and you're stopped by an ad, but then you move on," Bhatia said. "In digital it can become invasive, but people have the ability to block it."
How should marketers deal with ad blocking? It's a question advertisers continually ask, he said. Consumers can buy their way out of advertising. It's a problem brands need to face. "If people spend more time on Amazon Prime and less time on traditional television, it creates a challenge for advertisers to reach consumers," he said.