Leave the LUMAscape to the Investment Community for Which It Was Designed

In our latest column from the IAB’s Display Trading Council, Danny Hopwood, VP solutions & platform operations EMEA, Publicis Media, shares with ExchangeWire a common frustration among the conference-going crowd, where an outsider’s attempts to simplify our industry solely leads to more confusion. He gives his views on how best to go about understanding our ecosystem instead.

It’s June 2016 and, seven years on, I still hear of people inserting the now ubiquitous LUMAscape into their presentations. I’ve been privy to many of these presentations; and my biggest bugbear is that they are being used to educate, to inform and to, apparently, make simple a landscape that has become very different from what it originally was.

I, and some of my peers on the IAB’s Display Trading Council, argue that the LUMAscapes are not educating, are not informing, and are certainly not making the landscape simpler for us. In fact, for marketers in particular, they are completely the wrong aid in establishing an understanding of today’s industry.

Don’t get me wrong, the LUMAscape is not completely worthless. And, to the right crowd, it is an invaluable resource. But that ‘crowd’, I have to argue, is not marketers – and I hope Mr Kawaja agrees.

I, myself, am guilty of using the first few iterations of the Display Marketplace LUMAscape in 2009. Programmatic, automation, DSPs, SSPs were new terms, but they were new terms for the demand side of the market. Historically, hidden in the ad network model, they gained prominence as buyers dived for more transparency, more accountability, and more control. The tools of the trade behind the curtain were suddenly being given to an audience that, for so many years, had been watching other people utilise them. Being new to market, and seeing a wonderful chart sum up the entirety of the supply and demand chain, and the technology used to get from client to publisher, was exciting. It was too perfect. I used it in a client presentation and a few more afterwards.

While, yes, it did get the test budget signed off, it really didn’t help in educating the client. It was too encompassing, with too many constituent parts and way too many brand names. From a marketer’s perspective, it must have looked like brand logo vomit on a huge screen.

I stopped using the slide and cringed when I saw it used, or when I thought back to the numerous times I had used it. As a buyer, it is a good habit to go a bit deeper, watch what is happening to the companies you use, or are thinking of using. How is their stock? How are they using their next round of funding? Should I speak to ‘development company X’ to find out about their new direction after their earnings call? These are good points to know; and are perhaps the overlap between the LUMAscape world and your marketing world. You’re not going to get these answers from the LUMAscape, but from the people at the companies you work with, or want to work with, and from their earnings and stock announcement calls.

I make a point now of ensuring the LUMAscape doesn’t appear in any client presentations. Instead, we give them the coalface: the DSP they have chosen, the PMPs they wanted on their campaign. We let clients select them and search the third-party data segments, or watch their team of programmatic traders in the agencies do it for them. There is no better way of understanding than seeing it in real life; and that’s what we stick with now. If a client wants to go deeper and understand the relationship between a DSP and SSP, then we get all three into a room to talk through it. But we don’t put up a chart and say how wonderful our marketplace is, look at the complexity of it, look at all the logos and the relationships. Those days, thankfully, are gone.

LUMAscapes are valuable. They are valuable to strategic buyers like Verizon, Google, AOL et al. I bet Vista Partners, who recently acquired Marketo, found great use in the LUMAscapes; and anyone looking to spend millions, if not billions, on the technology present in each LUMAscape finds them invaluable. That’s what LUMA Partners are in business for – to create opportunities for acquisition of companies in those ‘scapes’ by other companies. They are not there to educate your client on how the landscape functions, so stop using them and show your client the coalface that they pay you to keep digging at and the technology that helps you. Introduce them to the companies that make up their supply and demand chain of inventory, technology, and data.

Leave the LUMAscapes to the investor community and the companies for which Mr Kawaja designed them.