Advertisers are working through a period of major upheaval as rapid shifts in consumer habits coincide with developments in technology, media and the regulatory environment. Amid these changes, executives from a variety of businesses in the past few months have shared their insights with Beet.TV  on what to expect — and the changes they’d like to see as advertisers aim to “break the cycle” of the past.

This article and accompanying  video highlight interviews from this series.

Sheri Bachstein, Watson Advertising and The Weather Company

“It’s time for us to evolve,” Sheri Bachstein, global head of Watson Advertising and The Weather Company, says in this highlight reel from Beet.TV. “It’s time for us to leap forward. We’ve been working with the same traditional identifiers and cookies for a long time — really, since programmatic came into play almost 10 years ago.”

She says artificial intelligence (AI) technology can help to address four key priorities for the advertising industry: first, reduce the dependence on “walled gardens” like internet search and social media companies. Second, avoid over-reliance on third-party cookies and device identifiers that are becoming less effective for audience tracking. Third, stop over-targeting the same consumers among different media channels. Finally, avoid paying fees for unnecessary tech services.

“There’s just a lot of change that needs to happen in the advertising industry,” she says. “It’s not going to happen if we keep doing the same things – if we keep using the same tech, and expecting different results, which we desperately need.”

Norman de Greve, CVS Health

CVS Health, the drugstore store chain with more than 9,900 locations throughout the U.S., uses IBM Watson’s AI to comb through data and help to target ads more appropriately to its customers — a key priority as the weather grew colder and flu season started.

“The speed of it and the ability of it to handle massive amounts of data and associations create opportunities that just haven’t been even on the radar before, ” Norman de Greve, chief marketing officer of CVS Health, says. “We used different data to find a highly accurate way to predicting if flu is going to be rising in a locale. We can get our advertising into that locale before flu happens.”

Allyson Witherspoon, Nissan Motor

Reaching consumers in a way that’s contextually relevant requires a data-driven strategy for Nissan Motor, which has different car models for different segments of the automotive market.

“We’re finally at a place where we’re taking that digital-first approach,” Allyson Witherspoon, U.S. chief marketing officer of Nissan Motor, says. “We’ve been talking about it for years, and based on what we’ve seen and how consumers are shopping and consuming media, it’s here.”

Consumer worries about privacy have led to calls for more regulation on data sharing, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) that may become a model for a federal law.

“As we get to a much more privacy-focused environment, how do you continue to do that with the data that you have available?” she said.

Ben Jankowski, Mastercard

Using data for ad targeting makes investments in media “powerful and productive” as part of a broader effort to improve media measurement and the walled gardens.

“The work that the industry is trying to do around cross-media measurement has the potential for a huge change,” Ben Jankowski, senior vice president of global media at Mastercard, says. “We believe we’re making progress in breaking down the walled gardens that we’ve whined about for the last number of years, and trying to make progress on: how do I really understand the consumer journey across platforms?”

Stuart Pennant, Wavemaker

Predictive analytics to help make smarter decisions about media buying are a key advantage of AI technology.

“In terms of applications for machine learning in our industry, they’re very rich,” Stuart Pennant, executive director of data and product at Wavemaker US, says. “Understanding how much money or how much funds should be going into certain channels, let’s say search, and predicting what your response would be based on other media that’s running…This is very valuable to our clients.”

He also sees important applications in sentiment analysis that provides insights into consumer attitudes and online buzz that’s part of earned media.

Michael Lampert, Mondelez

A data-first approach underpins the strategy of Mondelez International, the packaged foods company whose brands include Oreo, Triscuits, Ritz Crackers and South Patch Kids candy.

“We need to move from the old legacy models we grew up with, where you had a TV budget that you allocated first, and then you started to figure out what could be done after that,” Michael Lampert, global marketing data lead at Mondelez International, says. “Because of the decisions of consumers and the way they’re consuming media — the omnichannel approach we all talk about — you have to look at where the consumers are.”

Randi Stipes, Watson Advertising and The Weather Company

IBM’s AI technology is capable of handling a variety of big data applications, including those for media and marketing. As an indication of AI’s power, it has been applied to cybersecurity to help ward off online attacks, and currently helps to mitigate 1 trillion security events a month.

“We think AI can help, and play a critical role. We’ve seen AI address foundational problems and foundational challenges in other industries,” Randi Stipes, chief marketing officer of Watson Advertising and Weather and the Developer Ecosystem Group at IBM, says. “If AI can help with these incredibly complex problems, surely it can play a vital role in the marketing and the media industry.”

You are watching “Break The Cycle: Making AdTech Better in 2021,” a Beet.TV leadership video series presented by IBM Watson Advertising. For more videos, please visit this page.