This week, Media Voices co-host Peter Houston is at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in France. He catches up with attendees at the festival to find out what publishers and agencies are talking about this summer, and how optimistic they are about the next few years.

This is a two-part podcast, with the second part going live tomorrow with fresh updates from Cannes. Media Voices at Cannes 2022 is sponsored by Sovrn, a leading publisher technology platform.

Part 1: Data and diversity top the agenda

Hear from James Florence, Head of Advertising Technology at Immediate Media, Brian Morrissey, Founder of The Rebooting newsletter and podcast, and Dominic Perkins, Managing Director of UK and Europe at Sovrn as they give their impressions of Cannes so far.

Here are some part 1 highlights, lightly edited for clarity:

James Florence, Immediate Media

As a premium publisher, we’re quite excited about the return to contextual. We’ve got some pretty strong context in food and gardening and TV. That gives us a real opportunity to bring something unique that you can’t currently buy in the open auction; really add some special sauce there.

I don’t think it’s necessarily all about pulling it out using technology. Some of that I think provides the scale, but the other half of it is about what we can bring as our understanding of the users and why they’re looking at that kind of content, and being able to add something beyond just the facts of the context.

Brian Morrissey, The Rebooting

If anyone doubts that software has eaten the world, come to Cannes, because software has eaten the media and advertising industries whole. It’s just important to acknowledge; that doesn’t mean that advertising is going away, or creativity is not important, or that publishing can’t survive. But it’s hard to go around here and to look around at the giant beaches, and Amazon having a compound, and not conclude that technology is driving the media industry, not vice versa.

I don’t mean it cynically exactly, but like, it’s all about a façade in some ways. What’s been talked about in the Palais, and on stage…is completely different than the real action taking place behind doors, where this is less a festival of creativity, but more of a carnival of capitalism.

Dominic Perkins, Sovrn

I come from a publisher background. And one of the things that we’ve always thought about our data is, it’s our gold, it’s our asset, nobody else can have it. But in real terms, I think a lot of publishers are now sitting there going, ‘Look, there is certain parts of my data that I only want to have for me.’ But there’s also other areas of data or other bits of their data, which they’re quite happy to scale and allow other people to use in a compliant way.

That’s the change we’re starting to see now with publishers turning and facing it or leaning into it and going, ‘Right, I can’t do this on my own. But I want to do it with other partners that I trust.’

[Data] clean rooms allows that to scale for them, which is what they’ve always struggled with. And my understanding from what I’ve been hearing as well from buyers is they want to better access that data at scale. It’s no good to them just on its own, which is where it’s at with publishers in the past.

Part 2: Cookies and clean rooms are front-of-mind

Hear from James Prudhomme, CRO at Optable, Jessica Jacobs, Global Director of Partnerships & Growth at Incubeta, Barry Adams, EVP of AdTech at IPONWEB, Matthew Papa, SVP of Business and Corporate Development at Captify, and Jonnie Moyes, Director of Buyer Development at Sovrn. They all explain what the pressing challenges and opportunities everyone is talking about at Cannes.

Here are some part 2 highlights, lightly edited for clarity:

James Prudhomme, Optable

There is no panacea. But [clean rooms] are a big part of solving the addressability problems. If you think about it broadly, what third party cookies do today is connect data. They connect two different sources, or two different types of data.

Clean rooms largely do the same thing, and they provide data connectivity between two disparate datasets. So yes, clean rooms absolutely go a long way towards addressing the problems that are emerging as a result of the loss of third party cookies.

Jessica Jacobs, Incubeta

I think everybody is a bit worried that [Cannes] is still very traditional, but it’s definitely changed. It’s changed our perspective as well. We want to be more involved, because we see it’s very tech focused. It’s very data focused. And that almost gives us a space for all of us to be involved now.

We’re seeing a lot of creativity come from these tech plays. And I like that. We’re definitely blending it. Creative finally has a seat at the table, and the tech guys are willing to admit it.

It’s been fantastic to see the line-ups that these big guys have brought to the table, a lot of celebrities have got involved. I feel like the industry is blending. Everybody now understands the value of digital and we’re no longer having to have conversations around the value it brings versus traditional advertising.

Barry Adams, IPONWEB

It seems that until the devil is at your door, no one’s doing much. And the devil has been looming for a while about [third party cookies]. I do think that if you’re a publisher, and you’re not testing identity solutions yet, you are making a mistake, you should be doing that, absolutely.

There are there are many, many solutions out there. And I think the the pack will narrow, soon enough. I think what a lot of folks are rightly nervous about is over-committing on too many solutions that later don’t turn out to scale. But you need to be testing, you need to be looking and talking to your SSP partners and others to find out what are their views, and who’s starting to get more traction in the environment so that you can not be back-footed, when the time comes.

Matthew Papa, Captify

If we hadn’t had a pause at Cannes for the last two years, this topic would be far more supercharged than it is. It’s still certainly top of mind, but not much has happened since the major Google announcement. And my kind of feeling amongst the folks that we’ve talked to on both the buy side and the sell side is that the cookie is likely not going to go away in 2023, as expected, and that it may actually never go away.

But publishers do understand that there is a hole there that needs to be filled for the totality of the browser ecosystem that doesn’t support cookies today, that makes up 40% of browsing sessions. So I think we’re all beyond the point of saying, ‘What are we going to do when the cookie goes away?’ and we’ve decided there’s a multitude of different paths. But the general consensus seems to be that that Google may kick this can down the road indefinitely.

Jonnie Moyes, Sovrn

The start of this year was all about the supply chain. Supply chain issues have really hit automotive, really hit anything coming from the Far East in terms of fulfillment. And that was the sort of the elephant in the room conversation that you’re always having with the agencies. They had the budget, but they were concerned about delivery.

Now everything’s moved much more to you have inflation, which is an issue worldwide, you have obviously interest rates going up to counteract the effects of inflation. And the R word is now being almost thrown around like it’s a given. We’ve had a couple of conversations here where people have said, look, q3 is being revised down for certain organizations.

Also, I think the agencies are trying to mitigate what could potentially be a global slowdown, but I don’t think it’s going to be a recession that will affect our industry in a cataclysmic way. I think the growth is just going to be slowed right down. The last two years has been phenomenal growth.

I think you’re going to see much more long term visions, you’re going to see brands really trying to test things that maybe they’re a little bit hesitant of before.

These episodes are made possible by the support of our sponsors Sovrn. Sovrn provides advertising tools, technologies and services to tens of thousands of content creators, helping them make money, grow their businesses, and access a massive data commons that provides extraordinary insights. 

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