Ad tech San Francisco panel
By Erin Peralta May 20 2015

Brands, Entrepreneurship & Mobile Dominate at #adtechSF

When you fill the Moscone Center in San Francisco with dozens of startups, a couple best-selling authors, and digital marketers it’s inevitable that you’ll see your event hashtag trend on Twitter in less than 20 minutes.

And that’s exactly what happened today at ad:tech San Francisco where nearly 5,000 people from marketing, technology and media communities came together to share innovative ideas, build partnerships and develop strategies to attack the always-changing world of advertising.

While the conversation focused on many topics, a few key themes emerged as primary discussions both in the expo hall as well as across social media channels.

The morning keynotes—including Rohit Bhargava and Chris Guillebeau—shared insights about entrepreneurship and branding. Later on, the massive conversation around programmatic broke out into several sub-discussions.

Here are the takeaways:

Brands & their relationships with audiences are changing

Keynote speaker Rohit Bhargava encouraged brands to really think about how they talk to audiences. He urged marketers and companies to treat customers like superstars by giving them exceptional and non-obvious experiences.

Four trends that Bhargava noted included:

  1. Accept “unperfection” and embrace rare mistakes
  2. Be a brand storyteller and think about how you communicate with an audience
  3. Be an everyday startup
  4. Use visuals to prove values

Bhargava’s encouragements resonated with the audience

Entrepreneurial values matter for more than startups

After New York Times best-selling Author Chris Guillebeau took the stage at #adtechSF, the conversation exploded around startups and entrepreneurship.

But it wasn’t the typical startups-to-riches conversation that drove the spike. Guillebeau urged audiences to approach their work with mission and purpose as strongly as they focus on dollars and cents.

How you work is just as important as the work you do Guillebeau told the crowd. If you find you face roadblocks, overcome your decision paralysis by using a decision-making matrix or just flipping a coin. Focus on delivering value. And do multiple things to keep you inspired.  

Mobile is evolving based on a few key trends

Speaking at the think:tech session in the afternoon, Centro VP of product marketing Tom Burg captured one of the major audience insights that is pushing programmatic:  

The audience that has moved to being mostly mobile are spending their time on smartphones and tablets. And the dollars are flowing in that direction, with spend climbing from $1.3 billion in 2013 to more than $14 billion by next year, says Burg. In addition, marketers are looking for hyperlocal targeting within the mobile space. It’s not about cookies, it’s about device IDs where proximity turns into engagement. Mobile is no longer in a silo.  

Burg says companies should offer value and relevancy for location-based advertising, and ads need to be timely and relevant in order to work.

Overall, the digital advertising industry has evolved in the last two years and a new-school approach has become the new norm; in the past it was all about eyeballs everywhere, but today it’s about being precise. And it’s more than IP-targeting, with GPS coordinates opening up new ways to reach custom audiences.

“When it comes to location targeting, think scalpel, not hammer,” Burg says.