Earlier this month, our team ventured into the Coachella Valley to soak up some sun and take a pulse check on where the marketing industry stands on some key issues. 

While we missed Billie Eilish, Harry Styles, and the Coachella lineup, we picked up on some of the most exciting trends in the programmatic space at Digiday’s Programmatic Marketing Summit. With an economy on the brink of recession, the great resignation, and the impending death of the third-party cookie, the mood in the room this year was beaming with optimism. (I’m serious). 

While the end of cookies may seem like a boon to media planners looking to increase their DR investment as brands tighten their belts, it’s forced many advertisers back to their planning fundamentals. 

In this blog,  I’ll review new and old tools alike that marketers will be using to beef up planning and forecasting abilities. 

The Old & Familiar: Marketing Mix Modeling

Marketing Mix Modeling (MMM) is back. 

For those less familiar with MMM, it is essentially a way for businesses to ingest long-term sales data and infer which marketing mix is optimal for driving maximum sales. It is a way to look at previous performance and predict what marketing mix will work best in the future. 

Industry veterans will remember that merely two years ago when the pandemic first hit, the idea of using three years of historical data to predict what would happen for the rest of the year proved to be a fool’s errand. Even the most advanced MMM solutions struggled to keep up with the rapidly changing landscape. But with such volatility, MMMs have adapted to account for macroeconomic trends and outside data sources. 

Does that mean they are ‘the end all be all’ to attribution and forecasting? No. 

But the usage of these models spoke to one of the core trends of the summit;  optimizing marketing budgets against total business goals and not getting too bogged down in KPIs is the way of the future. 

In the era of last-click attribution being the standard, marketers struggled to prove the effectiveness of some upper-funnel tactics (even when incrementality could be inferred). The rise in tools like MMM allows performance marketers to go back and test channels such as CTV and audio which drove incremental results even when raw CPA measurement was a challenge.

The New: Attention as a Metric

At the start of the year, Advertising Week published a piece hailing attention as the new metric, and it was a hot topic of discussion at the summit. Attention and the ‘Attention Economy’ focus on metrics like time on site, brand lift, and engagement to measure the value of a user. 

The non-jargon way of defining it? It’s another way to measure quality. 

While the combination of these metrics is new, marketers have known for years that individual attention metrics are critical for measuring the effectiveness of marketing investment. The challenge to the rise of the ‘Attention Economy’ is that while it’s a solid way of measuring performance, buying media on attention seems to be a distant goal.  

The Old & Familiar: Contextual 

Contextual has long been a powerful tool for marketers in the programmatic space since it’s a way to lean into the intent data that search engine marketers use to drive powerful results. But contextual keywords can raise brand safety issues without good supporting context. 

Contextual partners have doubled down on their efforts to integrate advanced natural language processing tools to help with this challenge. Natural language processing uses AI-powered curation and analyzes hundreds of millions of crawled pages to build brand-safe groupings advertisers can purchase. 

It answers the question that most advertisers have had about contextual targeting for years: ‘how do we scale?’

Rather than limiting your contextual targeting to a handful of keywords, you can target entire contextually relevant sections of the open internet.

The New: Inclusive Strategy 

More inclusive marketing strategies have been on the rise throughout the pandemic, and programmatic has been one of the top mediums to see increased investment. 

Two years have passed since the Direct Agents team launched its Polycultural solution to address the most pressing inclusion demands that brands are facing today. This month, I took the stage at Digiday alongside CMI Media Group’s CEO, Dr. Susan Dorfman, and Group Black’s President, Kerel Cooper, to discuss how businesses and agencies have made progress and where there’s still room for advancement.

Brands that have not adopted diverse supplier programs and initiatives within their marketing structures are behind. An estimated 81% of marketers surveyed in the recent Connatix/ Digiday report were pursuing DEI goals, but there was a split on if that meant reaching diverse audiences or diversifying creativity. New PMPs and SSPs have access to a diverse inventory that has emerged. When leveraged with authentic and engaging creative, these suppliers can push into diverse audiences. 

Diversified placements in media will fall flat if there’s a lack of authentic creative and investment in diverse supplier programs. Both of these are important pillars of an effective inclusive marketing strategy.  Inclusivity has to be a top-down goal to resonate authentically and benefit your business. 


While the tool kit marketers will need to succeed in the coming years is getting more robust, there is no singular silver bullet solution, and that’s an exciting challenge to tackle.

As the industry braces for the death of the cookie and Web 3, the word to remember is decentralization. 

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution because those days are firmly behind us for the foreseeable future. 

In the aftermath of the 2008 economic recession, John Quelch & Katherine Jocz wisely stated that in times of economic downturn, it is essential to “take a scalpel rather than a cleaver to the marketing budget, and nimbly adjust strategies, tactics, and product offerings in response to shifting demand.” We find ourselves treading similar waters today. Opening up the old toolbox while also buffering new developments and tactics will be the successful playbook for these tumultuous times. 

– Khari Motayne, Director of Inclusive Strategy