Ops is Your Beacon in Uncertain Times

So far, 2019 is looking to be an even wilder and wackier year than normal for the digital media and advertising space.

January brought major media layoffs and hefty GDPR fines. February saw Google coming to terms with the spread of first-price auctions in real-time bidding. Then March was filled with rumors about Big G considering following the footsteps of other browsers and killing or limiting third-party cookies in Chrome, which could spell the bitter end for many an ad tech company.

Oh, but that decision gives Google pause as it reeks of uncompetitive behavior, and speculation is running wild that big technology players—namely ones that are dominating the digital ad space—could be broken up if the next US. presidential administration has a trust-busting mindset.

Public ire at Facebook for its sloppy data management seems to grow by the day, while the as-yet-unfinished California Consumer Privacy Act is a dark cloud hanging over the industry. CCPA is really just an exhausting symbol of overwhelming public discontent with Internet data practices, particularly in terms of advertising.

We could go on and on—need we mention companies consolidating or entering bankruptcy?—but you get the gist. The air around digital media is thick with uncertainty. Many of us in the industry are waiting for one or two shoes to drop.

But we shouldn’t be waiting—we should be coming together and engaging in discussion about what comes next. Perhaps the biggest obstacle to progress in digital media and ad tech is the fact that brands, agencies, and publishers simply don’t talk to each other enough or try to see the landscape from each other’s perches.

Ops on June 3 and 4 in NYC is the forum where brands, agencies, publishers, and yes, even those rascally ad tech providers can join up to hash out their differences, as well as figure out where we’re all on the same page. And maybe consider just how we can all get on the same page.

To spur conversation, we’ve organized the digital media and ad tech industry into eight segments that have quite a lot of overlap. On Monday, June 3, we host the Leadership Forum and Programmania. At the Leadership Forum, director-level and above media and advertising folk will dive deep into issues during topic-driven roundtable discussions, while Complex Media Founder and CEO Rich Antoniello delivers a keynote and panels tackle diversity and lessons from direct-to-consumer success.

Programmania is the ultimate journey into the programmatic weeds, with Hearts & Science CDO Megan Pagiluca detailing how rival players within the programmatic ecosystem can team up to the benefit of all parties; brands describe the very different ways they’re bringing programmatic in-house; publishers dish about their biggest challenges; and more.

But Tuesday, June 4 is THE BIG DAY, with six tracks running concurrently. We’ve tried to break down the massive world of digital media and ad tech into bite-size chunks.

  • Branded Content and Creative brings publisher creative studios, branded content engagement, and advanced creative frontiers like augmented reality.
  • All About Data examines the latest data management technology, blockchain in action, and respecting consumer data desires.
  • TV and Video dissects the space from every angle, including Connected TV, programmatic video, content strategies, and optimizing campaigns across screens.
  • On the Go: Mobile and More looks into the world 5G is opening up, where audio advertising is traveling, and exploding world of digital out-of-home.
  • Martech and Social explores the future of social media, the nuances of leveraging influencers, and platform publishing potential.
  • Thought Leaders takes a higher, strategic look at the major topics du jour, like cross-screen campaign optimization, ad quality, and alternative revenue and marketing streams.

These tracks are tied together with three keynotes that seem awfully potent right now. Kicking off the day, Blavity Founder and CEO Morgan DeBaun waxes on the importance of community in advertising and publishing, and the keys to building and maintaining it. After lunch, Dotdash CEO Neil Vogel shares the gritty details and pertinent learnings of his brand’s massive (and massively successful) reinvention. And Giant Spoon Partner and AdLandia podcaster Laura Correnti closes the conference by highlighting the trends we can ride forward.

And yes, there will be plenty of time to catch up with your peers and meet new people during the day—and into the evening when we open the bar.

Ops is well placed at the half-year mark, although it feels like we may have already lived several years in the past few months. The back half of the year might feel even longer. We’re expecting a lot of people to fill up all the floors of the Metropolitan Pavilion and represent the industry at critical mass.

Maybe we won’t clear up all the uncertainty in industry in a day and a half, but we’ll definitely spread knowledge, build connections, and start the conversations that will bring the clarity digital media could badly use.