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Addressability is a “slow-motion train wreck” says IAB CEO

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Addressability is a "slow-motion train wreck" says IAB CEO


“Less incrementalism and more burning impatience from the entire industry.” This was the mantra repeated again and again by IAB CEO David Cohen in his opening keynote address to the Annual Leadership Meeting convened this week, both virtually and in-person, in New York City. His message was a stark warning: major challenges are facing the industry and a cautious response to them will be disastrous.

The “IAB State of Data” report, released to coincide with the event, underlined the scale of these challenges, raising concerns about a measurement blackout as the industry continues to invest in third-party data despite the threats of cookie deprecation and stringent legislation.

In the dark. “If we don’t diversify our approach to the market, soon we’ll be operating by the equivalent of candlelight.” said Angelina Eng, Vice President, Measurement and Attribution, Programmatic+Data Center, IAB, in a release. “The industry risks losing $10 billion in annual sales — without a serious plan for what happens when everyone’s in the dark.”

Advertisers are trusting in adtech and publishers to solve the problem, but in the view of the IAB, and despite its REARC initiative, it’s not happening. The IAB is calling for the industry to develop common standards and KPIs, develop privacy-centric solutions for addressability and measurement, and leverage existing tech standards to apply across channels.


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Diversity is mandatory. Among Cohen’s warnings was a shortfall in tech talent. By 2030, he said, more than 85 million tech jobs could go unfulfilled. “What does it have to do with diversity? Everything.” Failure to diversify the talent pool puts recruiting an adequate workforce at risk.

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The media and entertainment industry has made big strides: “They had no choice. New technologies, our technologies, enable audiences to find what they want, where they want it, when they want it. Entertainment companies knew they had to reach deeper and broader to satisfy their existing audiences and the new audiences they [needed to] gather.” The marketing and advertising industries need to catch up. IAB is supporting this with its Digital Media Apprenticeship program. “Talent and DEI needs less incrementalism and more burning impatience from the entire industry.”

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Privacy and addressability. The deprecation of third-party identifiers was described by Cohen as “the world’s biggest slow motion train wreck. We can all see it coming from miles down the track. And the industry’s response? More incrementalism. ‘Someone will figure it out for me.’”

It’s not just about cookies, it’s about Congress too, said Cohen, referring to the proposed surveillance ad ban legislation. “We are simply not prepared,” said Cohen. He called, inevitably, for less incrementalism and more burning impatience.

Next generation measurement. “We have at least 27 individual industry efforts focused on next generation measurement,” said Cohen. “Learning is good,” he continued, “but couldn’t we all use some standards in measurement we could all build off of?” It requires industry involvement rather than businesses defending their “favorite metrics.”

Why we care. Marketers and advertisers will look back on this speech as an urgent call to action. The question is whether they will look back from the perspective of an unresolved addressability and measurement blackout, as the IAB is warning, or from the happy uplands of an industry-wide resolution to these challenges.

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Right now, with Google flip-flopping on what will replace cookies and a bewildering portfolio of composite deterministic/probabilistic identity resolution solutions on offer from a range of adtech vendors, the IAB’s warnings have force.


About The Author

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space. He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020. Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.



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Old Navy to drop NFTs in July 4th promo update

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Old Navy to drop NFTs in July 4th promo update

Old Navy will update its yearly Fourth of July promotions by saluting the metaverse with an NFT drop, going live June 29.

In honor of the year they were founded, the retailer will release 1,994 common NFTs, each selling for $0.94. The NFTs will feature the iconic Magic the Dog and t include a promo code for customers to claim an Old Navy t-shirt at Old Navy locations or online.

“This launch is Old Navy’s first activation in web3 or with NFTs,” an Old Navy spokesperson told MarTech. “As a brand rooted in democratization and inclusivity, it was essential that we provide access and education for all with the launch of our first NFT collection. We want all our customers, whether they have experience with web3, to be able to learn and participate in this activation.”

Accessible and user-friendly. Any customer can participate by visiting a page off of Old Navy’s home site, where they’ll find step-by-step instructions.

There will also be an auction for a unique one-of-one NFT. All proceeds for the NFT and shirt sales go to Old Navy’s longtime charitable partner, Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Additionally, 10% of NFT resales on the secondary market will also go to Boys & Girls Clubs.

Support. This activation is supported by Sweet, who’s played a major role in campaigns for other early NFT adopters like Burger King.

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The Old Navy NFTs will be minted on the Tezos blockchain, known for its low carbon footprint.

“This is Old Navy’s first time playing in the web3 space, and we are using the launch of our first NFT collection to test and learn,” said Old Navy’s spokesperson. “We’re excited to enable our customers with a new way to engage with our iconic brand and hero offerings and look forward to exploring additional consumer activations in web3 in the future.”

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Read next: 4 key strategies for NFT brand launches

Why we care. Macy’s also announced an NFT promotion timed to their fireworks show. This one will award one of 10,000 NFTs to those who join their Discord server.

Old Navy, in contrast, is keeping customers closer to their owned channels, and not funneling customers to Discord. Old Navy consumers who don’t have an NFT wallet can sign up through Sweet to purchase and bid on NFTs.

While Macy’s has done previous web3 promotions, this is Old Navy’s first. They’ve aligned a charity partner, brand tradition and concern for the environment with a solid first crack at crypto.


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About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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