Digital Experience: A Reality Check.

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Digital ExperienceDigital experience.  It’s pursued and prized.  Companies pay a hiring premium for it. Those who have even a couple of years of it get featured on panels.

There’s just one problem.  Digital experience doesn’t age like wine. It ages like fish.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by AppNexus. With AppNexus Mobile Solutions, you can access more demand partners than ever, gain precision insight into your inventory’s pricing and attract the ad spend of the world’s largest advertisers.

This may all sound a little strange coming from someone who’s been in digital advertising for 22 years.  But the secret – if there is one – to continued relevance and value in this industry is simple:  one must obsess about it every single day.  If, as Neil Young said, rust never sleeps, then change is an insomniac and irrelevance is a vampire.

Over the past two decades I’ve worked with thousands of sellers, executives and others in all parts of the digital media, marketing and ad tech landscape.  Frequently I’ll engage with someone who’s got it all figured out. The space they compete it is a fountain of money or the company they work for has truly built a better mousetrap, and it’s going to last forever.  Or their own knowledge, insights and talent have become truly unassailable.  Then something happens.

The emergence of ad exchanges makes the ad network irrelevant.  Facebook tilts the table on video and upends the entire video marketplace.  The entire ‘space’ where you once competed simply collapses and is subsumed by some full-stack solution provider.  The pace of mobile use and consumption shocks the world and turns desktop display into the rust belt of digital media. That same overly-confident digital exec finds him- or herself adrift and scrambling for a spot on a new boat.

Some will find the ceaseless march of change terrifying. Others will be exhilarated by it.  But it’s a fact for us all.  If you’re not questioning your current assumptions and business plan, you’re already starting to lose control of your future.

Stop obsessing about the latest micro-controversy about the details of attribution or viewability or header bidding.  Start paying very close attention to consumer behavior and media consumption. If it’s faster, more mobile, more video enhanced, more private, easier or cooler, consumers will adopt it.  And once they do, they never, ever go backward.

Change is relentless.  If you’re not part of the steamroller – or nimble enough to get out of its way – you’re part of the road

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