The Best Ideas Don’t Come From Conformists: A Digital Perspective

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Imagination and opportunity drives technology.

  • Microsoft: Co-founders Bill Gates & Paul Allen dreamed of a personal computer in every home and identified the need for software and an easy-to-use operating system. Bill & Paul dropped out of college, moved to Albuquerque, built BASIC and MS-DOS, struck a partnership with IBM, and the rest is history.
  • Facebook: While at Harvard, Mark Zuckerberg envisioned a need to provide an online community where individuals can share whatever they like about themselves and connect with friends and family. When Mark opened Facebook to the world in 2006, the Facebook era started and is still going strong.
  • Bill, Paul and Mark are great technologists—but they built empires on their imagination, vision and execution of that vision. They each saw an opportunity and used technology to seize that opportunity. We could go on with additional examples including Jobs & Wozniak at Apple, Ellison at Oracle, Bezos at Amazon, and the founders of Paypal (and Elon Musk). The lesson here is to not start with what you know, or technology, as that is limiting. Start with your imagination and identify opportunities.

    Digital Advertising

    The world of digital advertising has seen a dramatic evolution the past decade with new players finding solutions to fill gaps. Ad Servers, Digital Management Platforms (DMPs), and Data Service Providers (DSPs) are solutions used to build out the advertising and targeting solutions for online sites, many of which have been around for years and are still evolving. The ongoing shift to digital video will continue to require significant enhancements and changes for years to come.

    Another segment of digital firms are those focused on digital advertising campaign execution and effectiveness. Sites, especially media sites, spend a significant amount of money acquiring users via search engines, social sites, and 3rd party sites. The process to determine which acquisition campaigns are performing well has been silo-ed to the individual site/channel (Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) for the most part and has not been focused on optimizing long term ROI.

    There is an immediate need to create enhanced insights and analytic solutions which not only determine digital acquisition media performance, based on the long term value of the incoming users, but also the relative impact across the acquisition channels (social, search, and 3rd party). The end goal should be to determine the optimal targeting and spend. Let’s imagine the opportunity:

    • Sites need to be able to determine the value of the incoming users by channel (social, search, and 3rd party).
    • Sites need to be able to determine which campaigns are performing best, incorporating the value of the incoming user. Cost-per-click needs to be replaced with ROI.
    • Sites need to be able to gauge the impact of overlapping channels within campaigns and understand the optimal allocation within the channels.
    • Sites need to determine how to best allocate their budget
    • Sites need to seamlessly adjust campaigns in-flight based on historical and recent performance using the insights identified above.

    Solutions exist which automate the execution of digital acquisition campaigns and some have some built-in insights. Other insight-focused solutions have been around for years but a large gap still exists in terms of automating the insights and making it a closed-loop process where campaign performance is optimized based on ROI. This is clearly an opportunity and technology and data science have evolved to a point where firms will be capitalizing on this opportunity.

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