The Unsung Heroes of the Advertising and Media World

When you watch an F1 race, you hear about Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen. The driver takes center stage. However, the best drivers always make sure their engineers and drive team are happy, since they make or break the race.

On Sundays, we hear about Tom Brady or Drew Brees, but they are the first ones to take their offensive line out to a steak dinner after a game. They get it.

The advertising industry also has its pit crew or offensive line and they are equally critical to success, yet often not discussed as intensely as the world’s coolest creative director’s latest idea or the CMO unveiling the next big ad.  They are the advertising operations, technology and revenue leaders for the world’s largest brands, news outlets and social media companies.

Last week, I had an opportunity to speak at the AdMonsters Publishing Forum in Austin on the subject of “Forget Advertising: Let’s Talk Storytizing”.

What really hit me was a rather simple observation.

We spend an enormous, perhaps you could say “monstrous” amount of time on analytics, data science and what it can bring to the table. This is smart. However, we’re missing a major piece of this puzzle that will lead to the next breakthroughs in our industry.

The “other geeks” of the media world are equally important. They are the “engineers” of the advertising publishing world.  They understand why opt-in videos are leading to increased engagement or they can explain how mobile SDKs are critical to mobile app success for brands or what advanced programmatic will look like or why location data is no longer the right term and we should start referring to it as movement science.

This audience knows exactly how the media world runs.  They see all of the data and they can see trends that could lead a next generation of algorithms, machine learning and practical uses of AI.

And this gets me to an “A-ha!” moment.

The biggest lesson I have learned, thus far, is that you can innovate when you go deep with the people who understand what the problems or unmet needs are in the marketplace. You don’t have to know the solution, but you do need to be swimming in the sea to understand what is relevant and missing.

Every model we have created in digital media was born this way.

The AdMonsters audience knows exactly how media is working, where the opportunities are, what is failing and what should be built, but doesn’t exist today.

It’s kind of been bugging me to figure out where the next big wave of innovation will occur.  At AdMonsters, I believe I just saw it up close. Data science will progress, as will technology. And because of this awesome progress, we are now ready to listen with both ears to what the technical experts of the media world are saying.

They know what is missing with a level of granularity that data scientists and creatives can’t see as clearly. The next models aren’t far away… if we get to know the “engineers of the media world”.

For me, that was a monstrous insight that will drive what I focus on in the years ahead.