Last week, ICAN was invited to attend Google’s annual EMEA Doubleclick Client Advisory Board.
The venue was Marbella in Spain but while the sun was scorching outside, most of the action took place under the artificial glow of PowerPoint slides in the air-conditioned conference hall.
CAB is unique because it’s where senior Google Execs share their strategic vision and product roadmap for the next 12 months with key publishers, advertisers and agencies. Delegates then have the opportunity to challenge, question, and give open, honest feedback.
These exclusive sessions come with an informal agreement that if Google is willing to share their product developments plans, then the delegates should return the favour by not tweeting furiously about the specifics every time they flash up on screen. Fair enough. In digital, competitive advantage is everything.
At a broad level then, the most interesting piece of news was that robust online branding & audience measurement will become a reality in 2013. These new measurement capabilities will allow advertisers to directly compare online audience reach (and visibility) with offline media, on a like-for-like basis, using the standard GRP (gross rating point) system.
The need to measure the branding impact of digital is nothing new. It’s something publishers and agencies have been crying-out for, for a long time. Finally, Google seems to agree and is investing heavily to help unlock the millions of Euros still being (over) invested in other media, particularly TV.
If this comes off, and becomes the new standard, it really will be a game-changer. It will help to remove the damaging, direct response mind-set that restricts growth in the industry and push digital closer to becoming the lead branding channel.
Another development is that the Doubleclick suite of digital tools ( display, real-time bidding, search, re-marketing and analytics) will become fully integrated within a single unified platform. Taking these tools out of their individual ‘software silos’ will allow agencies to manage campaigns and work-flow more efficiently and make better, insight-driven decisions. As digital media continues to fragment and agencies groan under the weight of reporting from multiple sources, the potential benefits of this are significant.
Other items included a lively panel discussion with client, publisher and agency representatives and a rather confused Q&A with a guest speaker from the European Commission on the EU Privacy Directive. This particular session raised more questions than it actually answered. It did however reinforce the need to directly influence the policy makers that affect our industry as early in the process as possible.
It wasn’t all work and no play too. In between the product demos, there was time for networking over glasses of Cava, fine dining by the pool-side and some interesting entertainment that combined Flamenco dancing with some pretty cool light sabres (‘Star-menco’ as someone called it.)
This year’s CAB gave a unique opportunity to engage directly with a key player in the advertising market and learn how they plan to respond to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
From all that I gathered, Google seem committed to taking everything they’ve learned to date to push their brand new vision for media to the next level in the next 12 months.