Some Trends I Noticed at ad:tech New York 2014

Some Trends I Noticed at ad:tech New York 2014

After this year’s much anticipated ad:tech New York, there are a few social business trends that are clearly becoming more popular.

ad:tech is always a great conference. One of my favorite things about it is seeing what social business trends are making their way to the forefront of the industry. There were quite a few things that I picked up on while I attended the conference in New York last week, and these social business trends say quite a bit about the future of this industry.

social business trends at ad:tech new york

Survival of the Fittest

There was a time when ad networks ruled the web with an iron fist. In fact, it wasn’t all that long ago.

Two years ago, when I was wandering the seemingly endless rows at ad:tech in New York, it seemed like every other booth was an ad network touting itself as the end of Google. There is no doubt that a lot of these platforms had certain edges over Google, but we need to keep one thing in mind: Google is Google.

This year, there were far fewer ad servers on display, and only the biggest and best from two years ago were still presenting. Why is this? I have (somewhat Darwinian) a theory.

social business trends survival of the fittest

In the last two years, social advertising has made a significant splash. And by significant, I mean that it is hard to remember what life as a marketer was like without boosting a post or tweet. What’s more, it is still incredibly affordable and highly effective to run social ads, particularly when you compare that to traditional CPC campaigns. This reality is clearly manifesting itself when it comes to the survival of ad networks.

People are starting to accept that pay-to-play system, but they want to do it as affordably as possible. Unfortunately for smaller networks, that means social is the preferred route.

Mobile, Mobile and More Mobile

Instead of every other booth being an ad network this year, it seemed like every (single) booth offered a mobile solution.

We constantly hear of the importance of mobile. After all, everybody uses their mobile device for everything. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg recently explained why he (and by he, I mean Facebook) created a standalone Messenger app, and that’s because people want a simple, unique app for all of their mobile activities that can easily be accessed on the go. Check out the full article here.

Well that was made abundantly clear at ad:tech. In place of traditional ad serving networks, there were mobile ad networks. Nearly every booth (with the exception of certain SaaS and social booths) featured demos on a mobile device, and highlighted why their mobile platform is their best feature.

The rise of mobile has been unstoppable, and we are seeing companies adjust to that reality very quickly. After all, after ad:tech 2012, I walked away with only a few mobile-specific service providers. Now I have a bag full of them.

Getting Niche with Email

Much like ad networks, ad:tech used to be a veritable buffet of email providers. Now, there are only a few left showcasing their products, and those that decided to show up are there because they have something unique that the competitors do not.

By this point, email and email service providers have become so commonplace and the market so saturated, that price discrimination has increased significantly. Essentially, most people want to find the most user-friendly and affordable service that exists. Providers don’t need to buy a booth at a show to tell people about that.

The ones that can benefit from a show like this are the ones that have that little extra something that can add a huge amount of value to a brand’s email initiatives. These are providers who also function like ad networks, providers that offer certain partnerships or bits of tech (mobile tech, especially) that buyers find irresistible.


A lot has changed at ad:tech in the last two years and that reflects the speed with which this industry is evolving. It should come as no surprise that brands have a tough time keeping up when such a major industry pivot has occurred in just a few short years.

It’s exciting to think of where this industry is headed when, this year, there was a lot more AR, mobile and a big, big focus on structuring and leveraging data.

Until the next one!

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Corey Padveen is a data-oriented marketing professional with a focus on statistical analyses of human behavior. This specialization has led him to speak and present at dozens of conferences around the world, to write for a variety of reputable online and print publications, and recently, to publish ‘Marketing to Millennials For Dummies’ as part of the world-renowned ‘For Dummies’ series. He regularly shares real world examples and findings from his research, and discusses how members of society are evolving as consumers, communicators, and a global network as a whole.

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