GLOBAL: The brand backlash over ads appearing on web sites that promote extremism are part of a seismic shift in the use of data taking place in marketing this year, the head of the I-COM annual data summit has said.

Speaking ahead of the 2017 event, Andreas Cohen, Chairman of the International Conference on Online Media Measurement, said a recent industry lack of focus on essential issues like standardisation, viewability and third-party certification had led to a "rules-free state" that was now undergoing correction.

"There's constant change, but if you look at the data sector, this year is a big game changer," he said in an interview with WARC.

"There's a confluence of things, and brand safety is just one example of a broader trend. When I started I-COM 13 years ago, standardisation, verification, things like that, were 90% to 95% of what we were looking at, at the time. Today, it’s basically the flip of that."

He warned that, over the last few years, there has been a broad, unconscious positioning within the industry to neglect standardisation.

"Broadly, this kind of developed into a rules-free state," Cohen said. "Because innovation is happening so quickly, everything is difficult to standardise. It took a large advertiser to stand up and say 'look, we've had enough'."

His comments follow an international advertiser outcry over the automated placement of brands on sites, YouTube chief among them, that are inappropriate for the brand.

Google has apologised and says it is monitoring the placement of ads more closely, but Cohen said the same issue applies to many publishers.

"It could have happened to any number of players, but I welcome … going back to some of the more established norms of the industry, which is standardisation and verification by third parties, the way it was for many decades," he said.

"I have a suspicion that this, now, is the beginning of a course correction. It's the advertiser dollars that will force that reform. I think you're going to see these things built into contracts."

Cohen also said that, in future years, the industry will look back on 2017 as a tipping point for the deployment of data in marketing for a host of reasons beyond brand safety and verification.

Artificial Intelligence is going mainstream, business applications of the Internet of Things are gathering momentum, and 2017 will be the year of data monetisation for many companies who haven't previously seen the value of what they were sitting on.

This has the potential to change business models and form new collaborations, Cohen said.

I-COM 2017 will take place in Porto, Portugal, between April 24 and 27.

Data sourced from WARC