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At Cannes, publishers attempt to quell marketers’ open programmatic apostasy

Cannes Lions 2024
Cannes Lions 2024

This year’s Cannes Lions Festival highlighted significant challenges and evolving trends within the programmatic advertising landscape. Amidst a backdrop of financial constraints, controversies, and technological uncertainties, industry leaders gathered in Cannes to navigate a transformed advertising ecosystem.

Ad budgets dwindled in the open programmatic marketplace, exacerbated by concerns such as the MFA controversy, domain spoofing, and Google’s repeated delays in third-party cookie deprecation.

Despite these challenges, media executives converged in Cannes with a dual focus: nurturing direct sales through personal engagements while acknowledging the enduring importance of programmatic advertising as a revenue driver.

Publishers observed a gradual shift of media investments away from open exchanges towards more secure programmatic guaranteed deals and Private Marketplace (PMP) arrangements. These discussions were as crucial as the creative dialogues that traditionally dominate Cannes, underscoring the industry’s strategic pivot amid tumultuous times.

Cannes Lions 2024

Cannes Lions 2024

Cookie depreciation emerged as a recurring theme, evoking a sense of déjà vu among publishers who expressed frustration with Google’s phaseout plans and sought solace in their own data assets.

Publishers lamented the lack of clarity from Google while emphasizing their proactive approaches to maintain data integrity and campaign optimization in real-time, reflecting a broader industry-wide effort to adapt to impending changes.

Some publishers made their Cannes debut alongside ad-tech representatives, signaling a heightened focus on addressing advertisers’ anxieties surrounding cookie deprecation directly. For instance, Future’s inclusion of ad ops leadership aimed to bolster discussions on programmatic capabilities and strategic responses to market uncertainties.

Similarly, The New York Times emphasized the premium nature of its programmatic offerings, collaborating selectively with high-quality DSPs to ensure a superior user experience amid shifting market dynamics.

Vox Media’s Forte platform exemplified another strategic adaptation, leveraging first-party data solutions amidst uncertainty over third-party cookies. Geoff Schiller, Vox Media’s CRO, acknowledged a perceptible downturn in open market programmatic spending, attributing it to buyer hesitancy fueled by issues like fraud and system integrity.

This reluctance has spurred a notable uptick in inquiries for more secure programmatic guaranteed and PMP deals, reflecting a broader industry trend towards reliability and transparency in digital advertising transactions.

Cannes Lions 2024 served as a focal point for industry introspection and adaptation in response to a rapidly evolving programmatic advertising landscape. Amidst concerns over financial stability, technological integrity, and regulatory changes, stakeholders affirmed the enduring significance of programmatic while actively recalibrating strategies to navigate uncertainty and sustain growth in a transformed marketplace.

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