AppNexus Summit Recap: Building the Road to a Better Internet

We were thrilled to kick off our recent Summit event with the announcement that Axel Springer – one of Europe’s largest publishers – will be migrating onto the AppNexus Adserver. Our CEO Brian O’Kelley actually flew straight to London to deliver his opening address after signing the contract at Axel Springer’s Berlin headquarters.

But while he was in Berlin, Brian learned more about the media giant’s founding principles, and couldn’t help but notice how applicable they still are today, 71 years later. Axel Springer is dedicated to ideals like the promotion of democracy, free market economics tempered by social responsibility, and a rejection of political extremism.

Those are principles we can all get behind. But unfortunately, they’ve largely been absent from digital publishing and advertising of late.

Why? To put it simply, the internet is broken. That’s why we came together at Summit last week to discuss one key goal: how to build a better internet.

What exactly is wrong with the internet today?


Between Brexit, the rise of populist candidates in western elections, and turmoil in the Middle East, it’s clear that we’re living in uncertain times. Now, more than ever, we need independent publishers giving us honest, quality reporting that equips our society to evaluate and deal with these issues head on.

The problem is that the current digital advertising model doesn’t fund the content we need. Ad spend is increasingly concentrated on a few giant platforms that are incentivized to spread the content that helps their bottom line, but not necessarily the content we need.

Take Google for instance. Many publishers are dependent on them for both traffic and ad monetization. But their most recent earnings report shows that while their ad revenue went up year over year, the percentage of that revenue going to publisher partners fell from 29% to 19%. Google is funding its own properties and its search business through advertising, but independent publishers aren’t seeing many gains.

Source: Alphabet Inc. Earnings Report

This arrangement isn’t going to fund a free and open internet. In a time when online discourse has real world consequences, that’s a huge problem.


What’s the solution?


We believe that ad tech can build the digital advertising ecosystem that funds an open internet by solving six key challenges:


  1. Open monetization: Publishers need new ways to monetize without depending on walled gardens like Google. To that end, we’re helping publishers like Schibsted and Axel Springer lessen their dependence on those platforms by migrating onto the open AppNexus Adserver.
  2. GDPR compliance: Data privacy is on everyone’s mind today and the EU is addressing the issue with this expansive new regulation. Publishers and advertisers who want to do business in Europe will need to bring their business models in line with GDPR or risk significant penalties. At this year’s Summit, we had a panel of experts from Business Insider, IAB UK, Evidon, and Schibsted discuss the steps you can take to get ready and how GDPR could change our industry’s landscape.
  3. Brand safety: Marketers need to be able to trust that their ads won’t appear next to hateful, extreme, or misleading content. That’s why we’ve been proactive in removing domains that host this kind of content from our platform. To continue the conversation, we brought world-renowned journalists Jeff Jarvis and Alexi Mostrous to Summit to discuss the roles publishers, advertisers, and ad tech providers can play in the fight against fake news and other damaging types of content.
  4. Identity: To get the best possible results, advertisers need a consolidated view of each consumer’s internet behavior without the need for cookie syncing. To date, this has only been available on closed platforms like Google and Facebook. But now, we’re leading an ad tech consortium to launch a standard identity framework and enable advertisers to target audiences across the open internet regardless of platform, device, or channel.
  5. Machine learning: AI is coming, and it can make advertisers more effective. But we need to integrate these technologies in a way that not only makes us more effective, but also retains transparency and human creativity. We asked professionals from companies like Xaxis, Scibids, and 1plusX to tell us how they're managing that balance while getting powerful results from machine learning.
  6. Video at scale: Every publisher and advertiser we talk to says they want more video – it’s the most powerful advertising format around. As the cord-cutting trend continues, we’re solving the technical challenges necessary to move broadcast TV ad spend over to digital video. At this year’s Summit, our video team was pleased to announce new offerings in Connected TV that will accelerate this change and help video publishers monetize more effectively.


If ad tech can solve these problems and right the wrongs of today’s internet, then we’ll see more ad money flowing to high-quality publishers, better results for advertisers, and a friendlier, more informative internet for users. We hope you’ll join us in this mission, and we hope to see you at our next Summit!


To learn more about great events like Optimize, visit the AppNexus Events hub and start booking your tickets now!

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