2016 RampUp: Event Recap


This week, I attended RampUp. This annual event hosted by our partner LiveRamp, an Acxiom company, attracted an audience of more than 1,000 leaders from marketing, ad tech, and media who got together to talk about the future of the industry. The event is driven by a series of topically-themed panels ranging from how to leverage consumer data, to prognostications about the space.

For ad tech leaders, this is one of the must-attend events of the year due to the executive makeup and engaging speakers, including: Alan Gellman, CMO of Esurance; Leslie Gillin, CMO of Citi Global Consumer Bank; Scott Howe, CEO & President of Acxiom; and Stephen Dubner, author of Freakonomics.

While a wide range of topics were covered, a few key themes prevailed across the event:

  • Marketers finally now have the tools to reach consumers on a 1:1 basis
  • Data-driven marketing is maturing, yet creative and the formats that we use are still in the early stages
  • Traditional channels such as TV and email are converging with modern digital channels, thereby creating organizational and technological friction
  • Measurement and analytics are behind targeting; analytics presents the greatest technical challenge to marketers today

One of the most engaging panels of the entire event was titled, “Programmatic v. Native: Where Do We Go From Here?”

The panelists (John Battelle, Tod Sacerdoti, Dan Greenberg and Tony Zito) spoke at length about how native and traditional programmatic channels are coming together due to standardization. What was interesting is that these marketers and technologists all see native as a new way to reach consumers that is less invasive and more personal. Much of the conversation focused around the need for better creative and more storytelling in advertising. Sharethrough CEO Dan Greenberg hit the nail on the head when he said that programmatic was originally just about ease of use and cheap media, but that it has evolved and now represents an incredible tool for personalized and relevant marketing that speaks to consumers in a natural way.

Keeping with the data-focused theme, a number of the discussions hit upon cross-device technology. It was interesting to see the consensus among technical speakers that, while cross-device tracking is new, the tools are there today for marketers to use at scale. Traditional marketers on the other hand, had a different point of view, which reflected their continuing struggle to get various technologies and teams to work together in a seamless, customer-focused manner. The “Mapping the eCustomer Journey from Path to Purchase” panel unanimously agreed that attribution was the next big hurdle that cross-device technology has the potential to help marketers solve.

There was near unanimous agreement that display has matured and that the key area for growth is in TV in the year ahead. While everyone agreed on the channel of opportunity, there were a myriad of opinions on how to best address TV. Generally, opinions were divided between providing better automation and control over TV versus focusing on data driven TV buying and measurement.

This was a well-produced and informative event, with high-caliber attendees and fresh, interesting discussions. I’m looking forward to the 2017 edition already.