D is for Digital Identity

For the next installment of our A-Z of adtech series we’re looking at digital identity.

Digital identity has underpinned programmatic and digital advertising for the last ten years. However it now feels like everybody is discussing it more than ever. Articles and stories dedicated to digital identity management seem to be appearing in the press on a weekly basis.

At Unruly’s latest Trust Talks event in London we asked a number of leading industry experts why digital identity has become popular again, where it’s headed, and what the terms means to them.

Nigel Gilbert, Chief Market Strategist at AppNexus EMEA A Xandr Company

Nigel Gilbert

It’s all about the timing. Programmatic has been around for ten years or so. We also understand from a targeting and performance perspective that digital identity is probably the easiest and most straightforward way to target. Therefore it’s what everybody jumped on.

Retargeting returns the best performance out of any other form of targeting that you can use programmatic for. So for that reason everybody wants to scale it and find an automated solution that can work for their business. For it to be automated it has to have scale otherwise it doesn’t compute. I think there’s possibly too much of a race towards automating identity at scale than there probably should be. I don’t believe there can be a global solution, and I don’t believe people should be looking for one.    

Morwenna Beales, VP at ID5

Morwenna Beales

Programmatic was initially always about scale and the open marketplace. We’ve seen that change with the emergence of new channels like video and mobile. But what underpins programmatic now is data, and what underpins data is digital identity. I think people are starting to realise that having a grip on digital identity is a real competitive advantage against walled gardens and the marketplace. I think that’s probably why we keep talking about it.

Matt Simpson, Joint CEO Investment at Omnicom

Matt Simpson

I think digital identity is all about the identification of the individual. I know identity has not always been that; it’s been about identifying devices or cookies and so forth. But we now talk to clients about knowing as much as we can about perspective customers and about existing customers.

The reason brands are so interested in digital identity is because they’ve spent so much money on it. They’ve bought the dream of digital identity before it’s really here. With the introduction of things like GDPR, they now have this huge known audience which is their customers. They also have this unknown audience which is mainly the cookies that people use in advertising. They’re desperate to tie those two things together to get the outcomes that have been promised to them for a number of years. So for us, it’s really about knowing their consumers and their perspective consumers, and being able to inform on not just digital activity but on everything they do.

Shane Shevlin, SVP Strategic Development at IPONWEB

Shane Shevlin

Digital identity is not the same as legal identity and that creates an issue. It’s a simple question of the walled garden advantage right now. As large publishers, tech companies, and ad networks create scaled audiences with deterministic data, that leaves a lot less for smaller companies and independent publishers. That’s a problem we need to solve both for agencies and for brands today.

I think increasingly the question of regulation and ownership of your digital identity, in addition to things like cross device tracking and attribution, are still problems that need to be solved for the ecosystem. That’s where we see ourselves at IPONWEB sitting, right at the core of those very complex engineering tasks that need to be solved.  

Paul Gubbins, Programmatic Lead at Unruly     

Paul Gubbins

I believe digital Identity will become the new battle ground, and those that own it will display little sympathy for those that don’t, as it increasingly becomes a USP to lock in media budgets. Device graphs will be trendy once again next year and the must have accessories as consumer time fragments even further from desktop, mobile web, app, OTT & increasingly the devices powered by the growing IoT’s infrastructure.

ID coalitions and joint ventures will come and go. Some will focus on building a more efficient cookie to increase match rates for buyers and sellers. Others will build a common probabilistic and screen agnostic ID that will help brands and agencies manage holistic reach, frequency and attribution across their myriad of programmatic media buys in the face of walled gardens and browsers restricting 3rd party cookies (Think ITP & beyond!).

There will be cries, asks and demands from both the buy and sell side for a common framework when it comes to digital identity. Who should own this will continue to be a moot point and one debated at great length on many panels in 2019. Should digital identity be a commodity or USP? Only time will tell!

Check out other posts in our A-Z of adtech series.

Our Futurist Elena Corchero has her eyes firmly set on the future. She is always on the lookout for new technology that will impact the way we play, work, travel and experience life. Check her top 5 stories that stood out this month.

MIT invested $1 billion in AI!

MIT recently announced  that they’re investing a huge $1 billion into the future of AI. This means that they will cover the costs of anyone heading to the establishment to study AI. It also puts the US firmly in the lead in the race to develop and grow AI in the direction they want to take it. At the moment AI could go in any direction however MIT is focussing on keeping the human in mind and prioritising ethics to ensure this tech is taken in the right direction. This focus on AI is a step away from how it’s been explored so far which has mainly been for profitability.

studying at MIT

Gillette started 3D printing razors!

The US razor giant Gillette has started 3D printing custom razor handles that customers can personalise via their website. 3D printing has been around for a good few years now. With a global brand trialing it, it marks another step forward for the new technology. Earlier this year Chanel also started 3D printing brushes to be used as part of a new mascara set. It won’t be long before you’ll be able to print everything you’ll ever need from the comfort of your home. Meaning more time for Netflix and less time fighting the weekend shoppers! 

Walmart prepped for Black Friday with VR!

Walmart are one of the first big retail brands to heavily invest in VR training for their staff. The US retail giant has purchased 17,000 Oculus Gos to help navigate staff through difficult situations within a virtual environment. They created a special Black Friday training program to help staff prepare for the retailer’s busiest day of the year. The simulation dropped staff into a busy shop with customers running around with packed trolleys and baskets. As Walmart continue to invest and see the benefits of VR training many more brands will begin to adopt the new technology over the coming years. So don’t be surprised if you’re handed a headset next time you have a staff training session. 

shopping bags

The first AI scripted ad was created!

Yes you read that right, AI is now scripting ads, all of you who thought you were safe from being replaced by a machine because you have a creative job best watch out! ‘Driven By Intuition’ was written by an AI and shot by an Oscar-winning director, Kevin Macdonald, for the new Lexus ES. The AI, built with Visual Recognition support from IBM Watson, was ‘trained’ with 15 years’ worth of Cannes-Lions-winning car and luxury advertisements. The AI was primed with emotional intelligence data from Unruly to teach it which moments of those adverts connected most strongly with viewers. 

New technology: Lexus advert

China’s social credit system heads for Beijing!

Finally, have you ever seen that Black Mirror episode where the world is run on a system where you’re rewarded or punished based on your social behaviour? Well it’s now a reality in China. It was first piloted in eastern China and the government has decided to start the process of rolling it out in Beijing to help closely monitor the reputations of the cities 22 million inhabitants. The new technology uses AI and image recognition through CCTV to track citizens and monitor their behaviour. However there have been a few issues with the tech, including the AI thinking that photos of individuals on bus adverts were real people and serving them tickets…so if you’re a model make sure you check the small print on your next contract!

That’s it for now. Check back each month for more new technology stories! Interested in meeting Elena and taking a tour of our Home of the future? Find out more by clicking here.

Post-GDPR, and before the full roll out of the CCPA, dependencies on third party data sets have been wound down. Marketers and agencies are now looking for signals familiar from traditional advertising buys, but that are often overlooked in programmatic.

This discussion focuses on how marketers are showing an increasing appetite to understand the connection between consumer emotions and digital advertising. Featuring pioneering insight from UnrulyEQ, the chat also addresses the rise of AI and what using traditional targeting methods via modern programmatic technology actually means for those on both the buy and sell sides of advertising.

This recording was taken at Trust Talks: The Great Programmatic Debate which happened in London on 6 November 2018. Speakers are James Chandler – CMO, IAB; Liam Brennan, Global Director of Innovation, MediaCom; Becky Waring, VP Insight, UnrulyEQ; Anna Forbes, UK general Manager, The Trade desk.

The&Partnership London and Lexus will next week unveil ‘Driven By Intuition’ – the world’s first advert written by an AI and shot by an Oscar-winning director, Kevin Macdonald, for the new Lexus ES.

Following on from the success of campaigns like The&Partnership’s 2015 Lexus Hoverboard Project, ‘Driven By Intuition’ aims to highlight Lexus’ credentials as a brand at the cutting edge of technical innovation, testing the boundaries of humans and machines working together.

By exploring the importance of intuition between man and machine, the campaign aims to showcase the uniquely responsive features of the new Lexus ES executive sedan – a car that responds intuitively to the driver’s intentions and changing road and traffic conditions.

The script for the 60” film was written by The&Partnership’s first “AI creative” – a specialist automated script-writer built in collaboration with tech partner Visual Voice.  The AI was given a unique understanding of human intuition which helped enable it to create a car advert to rival all others.

The AI, built with Visual Recognition support from IBM Watson, was ‘trained’ with 15 years’ worth of Cannes-Lions-winning car and luxury advertisements, and was primed with emotional intelligence data from Unruly to teach it which moments of those adverts connected most strongly with viewers. It was then coached in intuition via a bespoke experiment for The&Partnership by applied scientists MindX, based at the University of New South Wales. The study explored what makes somebody intuitive, as well as how people with high levels of intuition respond to car adverts.

The AI then produced the script for the campaign: a narrative rich in genuine human emotion and indistinguishable from something written by a human, bar some unexpected details. For example, the AI gives the character of the car sentience and surprising emotional depth – a machine telling the story of a machine coming to life. Alongside each line of the script, the AI produced a highly detailed data key, providing references spanning the 15 years’ worth of adverts it had studied to back up the effectiveness of each twist and turn in its storyline.

Some of the key findings from the AI in terms of the ingredients for a perfect car advert were that: the car doesn’t need to drive at all, unless this is part of the story; the driving should be peripheral to the story; characters in the story should have an emotional designator, for example a husband or father over driver or engineer; and the use of children helps increase the emotionality of an advert. Additionally, strong facial expressions are more powerful than strong language; ads are most effective where use of the spoken word is limited; use of a midpoint or twist is important to keep the story moving and to maintain interest; and the midpoint should involve an unexpected event, for example a crash or near miss.

The result is an unusual and engaging short drama: a 60” film telling the story of a Japanese Lexus Takumi Master craftsman who, having worked painstakingly on the new Lexus ES, releases his finished car out into the world – only for it to be kidnapped and nearly destroyed. At the crucial moment, however, the car comes to life to avoid its own test crash – demonstrating the engineering and design that make the new ES Lexus’s most intuitive model to date.

To bring the AI’s script to life, The&Partnership brought in visionary director Macdonald, whose films include ‘The Last King of Scotland’ and ‘Whitney’ as well as Oscar-winning documentary ‘One Day in September’.

Macdonald said he was immediately intrigued by the concept, recognising how it required a different approach from a conventional film. “When I was handed the script,” said Macdonald, “the melodrama of the story convinced me of its potential. The fact the AI gave a fellow machine sentience, placed it in a sort of combat situation, and then had it escaping into the sunset was such an emotional response from what is essentially a robot. The charmingly simplistic way the AI wrote the story was both fascinating in its interpretation of human emotion, and yet still unexpected enough to give the film a clearly non-human edge.”

The film is part of a multi-market, multi-asset platform rolling out across Europe to promote the Lexus ES executive sedan. The car’s innovative chassis boasts features including a GA-K (Global Architecture – K) platform and intelligent Lexus Safety System+ functions, enabling it to brake for the driver as well as responding to road and weather conditions.

The campaign, which will reach audiences across digital, social and cinema, was created and overseen by Dave Bedwood, Creative Partner at The&Partnership London, and produced by Carnage.

Dave Bedwood, Creative Partner at The&Partnership London, said: “I thought I’d be writing an ad with the assistance of A.I. Instead it took over and wrote the whole script: a machine telling the story of a machine coming to life. A lot of other AI work to date has been interesting because of the process itself. This has been fascinating – maybe scary – because the end product is good in its own right.”

Vincent Tabel, Senior Brand Manager at Lexus Europe, said: “Here at Lexus we love to push the boundaries of technology and design, and that’s why we wanted to do something completely different – a world first – to launch the new Lexus ES. The ES is both intuitive and innovative, so we wanted the advert to reflect this. The resulting film surpasses our expectations of what an AI is capable of, from its creativity to its human emotion.”

Alex Newland, Co-Founder of Visual Voice, said: “This was both a challenging and fascinating project to be a part of. From the outset, it was almost impossible to know what level of quality or intelligibility the AI would produce. To see the project brought together with such a rich finished piece is extremely satisfying to witness. We believe this project moves AI-generated content from being a novelty gimmick into the beginnings of true, stand-alone creative merit.”

The&Partnership London’s CEO Sarah Golding has called upon the advertising industry as President of the IPA to grasp the opportunities for growth afforded by bringing AI and creative talent together. Her two-year ‘Magic & the Machines’ agenda for the IPA aims to future-proof commercial creativity, and challenges advertising practitioners to embrace ‘our new colleagues, the machines’ in order to produce more creative magic.

Said Golding: “Working on a collaboration between Lexus, Kevin Macdonald and an AI creative has been our most exciting foray into Big, Bold and Bionic creativity to date. It’s fascinating to see how the AI has absorbed and drawn on Cannes Lions’ most prized car and luxury ads – but the dollop of magic sauce is in our AI’s insights into human intuition, and how to provoke an emotional response in an audience.”

Check out the ad below.

We are excited to announce that we will be hosting the Eurobest 2018 Innovation awards at our London HQ.

The 2018 Eurobest Innovation shortlist has been announced and comprises of 10 entries from 8 countries across Europe.

Shortlisted entrants must present live to a jury in London on Wednesday 28 November. The Eurobest Innovation Jury, led by Tracey Follows, Founder, Futuremade, UK will convene at our London HQ where each entry will be presented live in front of the jury.

The entrants are Google Creative Lab London, Makemepulse Paris, FCB Inferno London, SMFB Oslo, Geometry Global Prague, Rothco | Accenture Interactive Dublin, Serviceplan Germany Munich, Cheil Worldwide Amsterdam, Serviceplan Germany Munich and Serviceplan Germany Munich.

Check out the full lineup here.

We have some really exciting news to share!

Recently four Unrulies were put forward for the UK TechWomen100 Awards 2018 which highlights the accolades of up-and-coming inspirational female tech talent, in order to help guide a new generation of female role models for the industry.

It is no secret that the technology industry lacks female representation at all levels, and the awards help to highlight successful and influential women, whilst serving as a platform for female technologists to shine.

The aim of the TechWomen100 Awards is to highlight the accolades of up-and-coming inspirational female tech talent, and create a new generation of female role models for the industry.

Elena Corchero, Gel Goldsby, Jade Vincent and Mariya Petkova from Unruly were all put forward and we’re excited to announce that they have all been shortlisted!

They now need your help to make it into the top 100!

Voting couldn’t be easier, just head here and select your winner from the list.

MarTech.18 is the leading annual Adformatie event that explores digital transformation, and looks at the tools and techniques that are available to marketers in the fields of digital marketing, e-commerce, CRM and analytics.

The event takes place on the 11th of December in the Netherlands and will be a platform for companies to showcase new technologies that seek to make organizations run faster and smarter. They’ll also explore how ‘the new marketer’ combines data, tech and innovation with creativity and intuition.

Our Futurist Elena Corchero will be speaking at 10:15 on the impact that the connected home will have on marketing. She will demonstrate how new technologies including AI, AR, voice and IoT within the home are starting to disrupt traditional marketing efforts, and what steps marketers need to take in order to leverage these new technologies.

With a background in product development and wearable tech, Elena is interested in the sociological impact of emerging tech, and how the internet of things is shaping the future of advertising.

With a Masters in Material Futures from London’s Central Saint Martins, Elena’s career began as a Researcher at MIT Media Lab. She has since carved out a busy career as a tech consultant, developing prototypes and concepts for the likes of the BBC, Diageo, Unilever, Audi, and the London Olympics.

Check out the event

One of the things we care about at Unruly is encouraging diversity across the business.

Recently, inspiring Unrulies Sarah Young and Hannah Mackaness were approached by Sky and asked to do an interview on what it’s like to work somewhere where diversity and inclusivity are celebrated.

The pair loved the conversation that spurred from the interview, and asked if they could re-film it so that it could be made available for anyone to watch.

During the video the pair speak about the ProDev teams approach to diversity and inclusivity. They also speak about the changes they put in place that allowed the team to double the amount of women working in it.

The pair also talk about the journeys that brought them both into ProDev, and the impact that support for inter-team transitions has had on the team as a whole. 

Pop your headphones in, sit back, and find out more about the amazing Unruly ProDev team…

Does Unruly sound like somewhere you’d like to work? You’re in luck! We are hiring for new positions across the world! Take a look at which roles are currently available.

The programmatic advertising ecosystem can be a confusing place – so full of acronyms, vendors and platforms that it can be hard to know who (and what) you can trust. The issues of brand safety has been publicized for quite some time, and is only becoming more of a concern as programmatic buying continues to scale.

At our last Unruly Trust Talks event in New York, Unruly’s Programmatic lead Paul Gubbins sat down with Ryan Rolf, VP Data Solutions at Lotame, Rachel Nyswander Thomas, SVP Operations at TAG, and Doug Zarkin, CMO at Pearle Vision to uncover the truth behind popular programmatic myths, and how advertisers can work to rebuild trust.

Paul Gubbins (PG): Why do publishers and brands still not trust adtech vendors?

Doug Zarkin (DZ): It’s because people blindly trust technology in this space. The programmatic model is only as good as the input you put in it. One of the main flaws in the programmatic model today is that there isn’t enough of an understanding of brand intent or consumer targeting. It’s just the programmatic model says, for example, I should target blonde, blue-eyed women between the ages of 27-35 who have a poodle. There’s not enough of an understanding of the person that’s pulling those levers and making those adjustments to the programmatic model of what the brands intent is, and what reality looks like outside of the algorithm.  

Rachel Nyswander Thomas (RT): I think you’re spot on, I also think there are other aspects to it. I understand brands saying they need to know everything that is happening in the programmatic model, and that is part of what TAG works on – the transparency of exactly what is going on in the supply chain. We are exactly three years old, which isn’t very long in the history of programmatic in terms of having standards by which you can judge the efficacy of your anti-fraud vendors. Yes, there are the MIC guidelines, but let’s be honest, there’s a lot more to fighting fraud than that. I think we are gaining trust back as an industry at this point. Knowing your partner’s more closely is going to be key to continuing to do that.

PG: As I think we all agree programmatic is good, but nowhere near as good as it could be, how do we fix this?

DZ: Firstly I think there are some opportunities with the agency model: we need to look at what should be done in-house and out-of-house. Secondly we need to look at the ad experience. Let’s not forget the advantage of advertising is to motivate an action, and that action comes in two ways. There has to be an emotional decision before that rational choice. One of the questions we need to ask is how do you make the advertising experience better in the digital landscape? The answer is deliver a better brief.

We have an amazing creative agency that does all our digital stuff and contrary to their earlier view, they love doing digital because they’re not confined to a 30, 60 or 15 second ad. We can create a 72, 83, or even a 2:12 second ad if we want to tell the entire story. The input that goes into any model, especially when it comes to programmatic, is only as good as the amount of time you’ve taken to write the brief. You also need to understand the emotional decision making process a consumer goes through before they make that rational choice to click on your banner and take the action.

The entity itself has to be done right before the results can come. Programmatic is simply the science. The art really comes in the ‘what’. If you are a brand in a competitive market you really need to ask yourself what your ad is saying, and communicate that in an emotive way to your consumers. Everyone says that Amazon is killing retail. They aren’t, they are just killing bad retail. The bar has been raised for all of us who are in a position to drive the ‘what’, to spend more time thinking about what the ‘what’ is, before we spend too much time thinking about ‘how’.

Trust talks: the great programmatic debate panel NYC

PG: There are now a multitude of different vendors you can work with within the advertising space. There’s no shortage of buy side vendors, of sell side vendors or of third party data vendors. How do you go about navigating that space and finding the right vendors that you can trust?

Ryan Rolf (RR): As an independent company we come up against the clouds, your Adobe, your Neilsons and this goes back to that whole idea of saying that no one ever got fired for choosing blue, and this is something we come up against all the time. The issue we have is that people don’t know us as well as they do the bigger vendors. Our main message is the fact that we really just specialise in data, and help companies untap that data, which to Doug’s point is just one piece of the puzzle. People often come to us if they are looking for that, rather than the cloud companies who have 50 other solutions that they are trying to sell them that they just don’t need.

DZ: I think brands have to come down and data suppliers and providers need to come up and be able to keep things as simple as possible. Because at the end of the day I don’t believe there is a comprehensive understanding that exists. All the problems about what websites to go to and privacy this and privacy that, those are all real issues and I’m not mitigating the impact of them, but I do not believe that the technology in those who are empowered with only the technology realise that any buyer of that technology isn’t a tech nerd.

Trust talks: the great programmatic debate panel NYC

PG: Why as an industry do you think we keep over-complicating things?

RR: I think truthfully the only reason we over-complicate things is because we keep trying to tell the story smarter than the next guy.

DZ: There’s an enormous disconnect between data and knowledge. None of us suffer from a lack of data, we live in an era of big data. We have to remember that data is only as useful as the questions you ask. Data does not make decisions. People make decisions using data, and so I think when you’re looking at vendors, whether they be big or small, you need to really look at their ability in doing that.

PG: Aare companies asking TAG the right questions around trust and transparency? Should there be a template issued by the IAB to help both buy and sell side vendors ask everybody the right information to track those insights?

RT: The conversation has to be very unique between partners. Everyone knows we certify organisations but a big part of what we focus on is not just are you certified or not, it’s connecting the dots between partners and encouraging them to get to know each other better beyond just seeing whether a company is certified or not. At the moment within this industry brand safety means something different to everyone. We need to dig further into what the advertiser actually wants and what does the publisher actually have to offer, that transparency and connection is vital, a checklist can only go so far.

Trust Talks event logo

Paul Gubbins, Unruly’s Programmatic Lead has made it into The Drum Digerati – an annual celebration of 100 outstanding individuals excelling in the UK digital industry.

The Drum’s Digerati showcases success and ingenuity from some of the most pioneering digital marketers working in the UK today. Based on nominations from The Drum readers and curated by their editorial team, the list celebrates talent from four categories: agencies, brands, adtech & martech and media & platforms.

Paul Gubbins has over 16 years’ experience in the advertising sector, with the last nine spent in programmatic. Shortlisted by The Drum in 2017 as one of the most influential people in the digital advertising sector, Gubbins sits on the Captify advisory board, is a mentor at The Programmatic Advisory and is regularly asked to moderate or participate on panels about how automation is changing and disrupting the advertising ecosystem.

Paul writes for The Drum as a programmatic columnist, discussing all things M&A, data & technology in the digital ad sector. Gubbins’ infectious passion and enthusiasm for all things adtech also saw him nominated by Exchange Wire in the adtech personality of the year awards.

Check out The Drum’s Digerati announcement.