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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.

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.”

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.

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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How A Non-Marketing Content Approach Produced Award-Winning Results

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How A Non-Marketing Content Approach Produced Award-Winning Results

Matt Hartley is not a marketer.

And yet, he is a 2022 B2C Content Marketer of the Year finalist.

Though seemingly incongruous, it’s not. Companies don’t all approach content (or marketing) with the same organizational structure.

Matt leads editorial strategy for TD Bank Group as a senior manager in the corporate and public affairs department. Under his leadership, TD Stories took home top honors for Best Content Marketing Program in Financial Services and earned finalist mentions for Best Content Marketing Launch and Financial Services Publication in the 2022 Content Marketing Awards.

Those results prove that department, title, and reporting structure don’t matter if the content works.

“We tell stories aligned with (the company’s) communication goals. We’re not necessarily looking to sell something. It is about brand building, thought leadership, financial literacy,” Matt explains.

Here’s how a non-marketer finalist for Content Marketer of the Year built an award-winning program.

If the #Content works, details like reporting structure, title, and department don’t matter, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Launching the newsroom

In 2018, Matt joined TD as a content strategist. He was hired partly because of his background in reporting and creating new content products. Matt had worked as a technology reporter at The Globe and Mail and the National Post. He also created the Financial Post Tech Desk, a home for Canadian and international tech news, and was the founding editor of the Post’s arcade video-game news site.

TD leadership had recognized the shifting media landscape. They saw fewer earned media opportunities and turned to Matt to help scale a TD-owned channel called TD Newsroom.

While TD Newsroom aligned with the external communications goals, it ended up with an internal audience – less than 10% of visitors came to the site from outside the bank.

Turning the content program inside out

TD Newsroom’s importance grew when the pandemic hit in 2020, making some forms of traditional customer outreach impossible. No longer just another tool in the communication toolbox, TD Newsroom became pivotal.

“Creating our own content and being able to distribute it became crucially important to us,” Matt says.

The TD Newsroom team focused on creating branded service journalism (content intended to help customers), and traffic to the site increased substantially. Topics such as banking tasks you can carry out online, budgeting for income impacted by COVID, and planning an emergency fund took center stage.

That was the beginning of the TD Newsroom evolution.

“We were rethinking how we did content and where the customer was in their journey,” Matt says. The team also doubled down on data-driven content and refined its content strategy.

In 2021, TD Stories debuted. “It places the customer at the center of the story. It tells stories that resonate with customers and colleagues,” Matt says.

The site’s tagline – “Enriching lives one story at a time” – reflects this mission.

TD Stories organizes content around five pillars (as shown in the site navigation in the screenshot above):

  • Your Money features financial tips and advice.
  • Innovation highlights new technologies to create more personalized banking experiences.
  • Community features stories about TD’s involvement in the communities where it operates and where its employees live.
  • Colleagues tells the stories of employees.
  • Insights features thought leadership from the bank’s executives.

TD Stories places the customer at the center of the story, says @thehartleyTO of @TDnews_Canada, via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Making everything count

“We’re a small but mighty team within corporate affairs. It’s a flat team – everyone brings ideas to the table. It really wouldn’t work if it wasn’t as cohesive as it is,” Matt says.

The digital content team also functions a little like an agency. In corporate affairs, they work with relationship managers for categories such as personal banking, insurance, US banking, etc., as well as product, partnership, and philanthropic managers.

“We work with them to create the stories. We may pitch to them, asking for a subject matter expert to help us tell a story, etc.,” Matt explains. “We could not exist in a vacuum.”

He oversees a digital content team that includes a data-driven strategy role that has been critical in the TD Stories evolution. That added focus has helped the team in its content development.

For example, the bank’s editorial calendar revolves around repeating deadlines and patterns. Deadlines for retirement plan contributions and income tax returns occur during the same period every year. And each spring, more people begin house hunting.

With TD’s digital content team amping up the content measurement strategy, Matt and team can analyze how well those yearly content pieces perform. They also can better understand what people are searching for, so they can refine and improve the next content iterations.

“We can take those moments and make those moments fresh,” Matt explains. “We can ensure the customer gets the best and most accurate information possible.”

The metrics reflect the team’s dedication to excellence. In 2021, traffic to TD Stories grew more than 125% year-over-year. Almost all the traffic (98%) comes from external sources, including 25% from organic Google searches.

Knowing the real goal

“At the end of the day, the content is not the end goal. The goal is to help educate the customer and help them feel more informed and financially confident. When you keep that in mind, the actual structure of a story or every sentence is a means to an end,” Matt says.

Educating the customer is the goal – story and sentence structure are the means to that end, says @thehartleyTO of @TDnews_Canada via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

That’s part of the secret science of brand journalism. As Matt explains: “Take the objectives of the business and marry them with stories that the customers find engaging and useful.”

And that’s an award-winning formula regardless of department name, title, or organizational structure.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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