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Marketers gossip and stress at POSSIBLE

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Apr 18, 2024
Forbes' Seth Matlins and MediaLink founder Michael Kassan onstage next to the word POSSIBLE

Forbes' Seth Matlins and MediaLink founder Michael Kassan onstage at POSSIBLE. Photo: Kerry Flynn/Axios

The ad industry has been facing so much turmoil that it is no surprise a two-year-old marketing conference was able to attract more than 3,500 attendees.

Why it matters: POSSIBLE serves as a new temperature check on the industry between CES in January and Cannes in June.

Here were some of the major themes:

Michael Kassan vs. MediaLink

  • The most pervasive conversation was the legal battle between United Talent Agency and MediaLink founder Michael Kassan, who chairs the board of Beyond Ordinary Events, POSSIBLE's creator. Nearly everywhere, people discussed lawsuits details and speculated about the future.
  • Attendees appeared supportive of both. A "Michael Kassan & Friends" cocktail party on Monday was at capacity with CEOs and top marketers. That same night, MediaLink hosted a client dinner. Some people went directly from Kassan's event to his former employer's.
  • The drama was on full display Wednesday morning when Kassan spoke on the main stage. "At the end of the day, we had a dispute," Kassan said. "Everybody is going to move in their own direction and move on."

Consolidation everywhere

  • Kassan, a prolific media matchmaker, said onstage he expects much more consolidation. "Twelve to 18 months from now, it's obvious that space will not be the same," he said, referring to Hollywood and the Paramount sale.
  • Axios had eerily similar conversations with several executives who gestured to nearby branded cabanas and said all of these tech vendors could not survive the coming years.
  • For tech, Mint CEO Lorenzo Larini tells Axios he has spoken with several private equity firms that could help him fuel acquisitions. Mint, an enterprise SaaS product for advertisers, hired Larini earlier this year.
  • For agencies, Eric Bertrand, the CEO of digital marketing agency Mod Op, says he is in serious conversations with several potential acquisitions after already completing nine over the past five years.

Rapid rise of retail media

  • Retail media networks were part of the official programming and a visible presence through branded cabanas from the likes of Instacart. Target's Roundel Media, Walmart Connect and Albertsons Media Collective were among the sponsors.
  • Walmart timed a big product update to POSSIBLE — an integration of its data product Walmart Luminate to its ad network Walmart Connect that helps advertisers strategize for and buy display ads on the Walmart app.
  • "Buyers are really eager to get as much of that data as they can," Walmart U.S. EVP and CRO Seth Dallaire tells Axios.

Improving connected TV

  • More ad tech companies are investing in CTV as linear declines and streaming rises. Yahoo announced Identity Solutions on CTV that allows advertisers to target and measure their spend alongside other channels.
  • Yahoo CRO Elizabeth Herbst-Brady tells Axios the move is "preparing the ecosystem for a cookie-less world" because it uses first-party data from logged-in users.
  • Further CTV growth will stem from aggregation and standardization, Rose McGovern, head of programmatic and digital ad sales at DirecTV, tells Axios.
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