DataXu Summit 2016: Event Recap


Last week I dug out my sweaters and left sunny Los Angeles to spend a chilly two days at the 2016 DataXu Summit  at The W – Lexington in New York City. I was just one of hundreds of DataXu customers and team members in NYC for 48 exciting hours of workshops, breakout sessions and keynote speeches on everything from programmatic TV to cross-device to mobile. Given that consumers are more mobile than ever before, with mobile now accounting for 65% of time spent with digital media, these topics represented key areas our customers had questions about.

On Day One of the Summit, I woke up and got myself a proper New York-style bagel, chugged a large coffee, grabbed my conference lanyard and prepared for the session I was leading: “Campaign Reporting: Understanding Reporting & Customizing It To Your Needs.”

Banner sign at the DataXu Customer Summit 2016

There were two tracks available for DataXu clients on Day One: a Self-Service Bootcamp and a Programmatic Trends track. In addition to the session on reporting, there were two additional sessions designed for self-serve customers: “Campaign Management: Set-Up & Optimization For Power-Users” and “Cross-Device Campaigns: What Is OneView and How to Succeed at Cross-Device.” Although all of our customers are assigned a Customer Success Manager, it was fantastic to see a group of users all in one room learning from each other.

The Programmatic Trends track focused on hot industry topics such as “Cross-Device: Understanding The Consumer Journey,” “Programmatic TV: The Evolution of TV Buying” and “Quality: New Media Opportunities With Programmatic.”

Panel at the DataXu Customer Summit 2016

After Day One workshops wrapped up, all guests were invited to an opening party where celebrity DJ Questlove laid down some groovy beats and got attendees psyched up for Day Two of the 2016 DataXu Summit.

No DataXu event would be complete without multiple references to the beloved sports teams of Boston (where DataXu’s HQ is located) or Chicago (where DataXu’s SVP of NAM Sales and a passionate contingent of Cubs fans are based). This year’s Summit was no different; with the Cubs playing in the World Series, Brian Atwood, SVP NAM Sales, DataXu, started off Day 2 by proudly sporting a Cubs baseball hat onstage to the collective dismay/delight of the room.

Panel at the DataXu Customer Summit 2016

The overarching theme of this year’s Summit was one of transformation. The role of marketers has become more challenging than ever before of late, due in part to the proliferation of data and tech as well as rapidly shifting consumer behaviors. From how consumers get their media to what today’s consumers are interested, speakers touched frequently upon the truth that the digital advertising industry continues to evolve daily. But even though so much has changed, DataXu’s CEO Mike Baker emphasized, the essence of brand building has stayed the same. Marketers shouldn’t lose sight of that. They may simply now require new partners and tools in order to accomplish their mission.

In one of the conference’s sessions, “The Marriage of Television, Mobile, Digital & Attribution: Connecting Audiences Everywhere,” Ryan LaMirand, VP of Global Partner Development, Acxiom, Craig Whitmer, VP of Programmatic, Placed, and Joan FitzGerald, VP of Product Management and Business Development, TiVo, all discussed how marketers have more options than ever before when it comes to using data and channels to message consumers. The panel discussed the increasing importance and necessity of cross-device, and how it can be leveraged to overcome traditional marketing challenges while also delivering audience-centric experiences and attribution at scale.

As Day 2 closed out, Lars Hemming, CCO, VICE Media, gave the final keynote on “Cracking The Millennial Code.” Lars emphasized that in order to successfully engage Millennials, advertisers need to take risks and be open to continuous testing and learning. They need to understand how and where users are consuming media (and what their values are). Millennials will be loyal to brands that share their values, but their expectation is of true authenticity from those brands.

Lars hemming speaking at the closing of the 2016 DataXu Customer Summit

Now back in LA post-Summit, I am more excited than ever to help my clients ramp up on mobile and embrace testing and learning to improve their campaigns’ overall performance. In an industry that is constantly changing, it is a mistake for modern marketers not to continuously change with it. Hopefully our customers left this year’s Summit energized and full of new knowledge and insights about the opportunities available today to marketers bold enough to seize them.