min read

The Good, Bad, and Ugly in Adtech

June 27, 2023
June 12, 2024
Listen on Apple Podcasts

The Guest

As Head of Innovation and Insights at U of Digital, Myles Younger leads new product development, tech services, and thought leadership to help scale the company’s educational offerings to new formats, new learners and new markets. Myles’ nearly 20 year career in advertising has spanned every facet of the business, from his time in client-side marketing, experience as an ad tech founder and product leader, to his experience inside the world of agencies and consulting. Myles is a regular contributor to industry publications such as Adweek, AdExchanger, and AdMonsters, he’s a joy to follow on Twitter and he’s here today to talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly in AdTech.

The Interview

Our conversation with Myles begins with an overview of adtech, how complex it’s gotten, how the products have evolved, and some of the negative and positive sides to this expanding landscape.

“It feels like the confusion marketers feel in regards to adtech,” begins Myles, “is driving a demand for education services. As of this year, Scott Brinker has documented 11,000 companies that are a part of the martech and adtech landscape. U of Digital helps to unpack all that and make sense for marketers. If someone wants to string all those potential opportunities, platforms, and tactics, it can get extremely complicated.”

“On the plus side,” says Myles, “the tech has gotten so much easier to access and activate. A lot of these platforms don’t require coding knowledge, which is great. I’m playing around with a few no-code applications and, as an adtech founder, I’m amazed because in the past I had to scratch build all the programs and tools I used, today they’re ready to go out of the box.” 

Paradoxically, it’s this same ease-of-access, which allows marketers to pile up tech solutions, that can create the ugly side of over-complication in adtech. Those that can get lean with their offerings and focus on services that help them deliver those outcomes, will be able to prevent bloated tech stacks and choose the right tool. 

“It’s really micro needs in solving isolated marketing problems, that creates the issues that grow into the Frankenstack. You have to push against sprawl while balancing the quest for point solutions in adtech,” states Myles. “You will most likely have to cobble solutions together, but there has to be a focus on reducing disunity where you can.”

When asked if he thinks a single-point solution for all the advertising issues marketers face might exist, Myles believes that the quest might have merit, just as long as the people questing remember to ask the right questions.

“I’ve long been on record saying that a mathematical or engineering solution to the marketing problem won’t ever be found,” says Myles. “And also the Wanamaker problem (half my advertising budget is wasted, I don’t know which half) won’t ever be fully solved. Marketers will make incremental progress against it, but then the world will change and the problem will rise up from its own ashes, as it were.”

We then pivot to AI and how it relates to analytics and creativity in advertising. Myles believes again that the ease-of-access with adtech can only be improved with AI, whereas the promise of ad creative being AI-generated, is less exciting because it’s been happening for a while.

“AI is going to help democratize data in a way that allows non-technical marketers to ask questions of a database, and get answers and analytics directly without the help of engineers, which is a good thing. Another thing that might improve with AI is data visualization. People are historically famous for being bad at building decks. An AI will send you back great looking visuals that are easily comprehensible and accurate, which could be a huge benefit.”

“But in regards to AI improving the creative side of advertising,” posits Myles. “I started out specializing in dynamic ad insertion based on customer data, so the concept that AI is going to significantly improve dynamic ads seems like a stretch. It might improve things by a few percentage points, but it’s not going to change the game.”

To hear us talk about training sets and creativity in music and advertising, how AI might usher in a new era of homogeneity, and to catch Myles’ one piece of advice for marketers wading through the seas of adtech, listen to the podcast at the links provided above and below.  

The Links

U of Digital
Myles on Twitter
Myles on LinkedIn

LISTEN TO THE FULL SHOW -> Stay tuned, stay curious and subscribe to What Gets Measured on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube or add it as a Favorite on your podcast player of choice.

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