Michael Bloomberg Is An Activist Mayor.

Article contributed by Jordan Bitterman, Senior Vice President, Digitas

Among other accomplishments, he created public seating areas by altering decades old traffic patterns, outlawed smoking in city parks, legislated saturated fat and sugary soda laws and committed the city to plant one million trees within 10 years. He has used his office to affect change at a rapid pace.

Not everyone reading this post lives or works in New York City and not everyone in New York City loves all of the change that Bloomberg has brought. Still: he has expedited ideas around the greater health of his constituents. The public didn’t vote for these particular causes, but the mayor has used his office to step the city forward according to his own compass. Refreshing in a way. Say what you may, but that’s leadership.

This got me thinking: what if someone played the role of activist mayor for ad tech?

There are many challenges that can impede technological progress: funding that must be appropriated, pipes to be laid, competitive interests, profit to be recognized. While obviously critical inputs, these hurdles stifle the pace of change. What if we could remove these hurdles in the interest of broader progress and the greater health of our constituents? As an exercise, I decided to appoint myself the activist mayor of our industry. With all of that theoretical power, here is what I would do.

Develop the location-based targeting industry. Not much in our business holds the potential of what we might call “human pixeling.” When ad tech fulfills on its promise of enabling message and offer delivery at the intersection of behavior, intent and current location, we will have a solution that both people and brands will love. Various companies are currently addressing the space: Foursquare’s radar product comes to mind. But, I’m looking for scale and ubiquity. My administration will bring together the carriers (for their technology and customer data), the handset manufacturers (for their hardware) and the best & brightest emerging mobile-social graph software solutions to make “in the moment targeting” a reality.

Legislate all sides of the iTV landscape to work out a solution that delivers a cross-platform, interactive video solution within 18 months. As a consumer, I want that immersive all-in-one experience I have been promised since The Jetsons – and has allegedly been “just around the corner” for the last 10 years. The one where I can watch, surf and tweet at the same time. Sure, these experiences exist in one-offs: AppleTV, X-Box, manufacturer Smart TV products and functionality on numerous tablet apps (e.g.: Peel). But each solution is different. As a marketer, I want a single solution to engage my audiences on the first screen. Television still consumes the majority of ad budgets, but it is a relatively cold medium – it’s emotive, but it can’t engage. Interactive television is the new warm. Brands want to engage through television, but we’re just not there yet. Where are the standards from which the next phase of innovation can spring forth? Here again, my administration will bring together the hardware, software and data companies to provide a true converged product.

Standardize mobile advertising. While individual citizens might not care if the ads they see on mobile platforms vary from app-to-app, site-to-site or phone-to-phone, those of us who make a living in the advertising space sure do. While ad unit uniformity – the equivalent of the old 468×60 web banner – might hasten a drop in interaction & response rates, brands won’t spend the way they should in mobile until they feel the industry has adequately addressed creative concept streamlining, trafficking standards and measurement efficacy. Mobile ad spend is predicted to grow 150% by 2014 according to eMarketer, but has even more upside over that time period. To realize its true potential, marketers need to a reason to move more dollars into the space. I would get the largest players together and require that we work out issues related to the industry’s plumbing to maximize the near-term potential of mobile.

Unify measurement across all media. Our industry has always tried to connect multiple media types together, but it is likely more important than ever in today’s marketing landscape. With social, mobile and digital video, there are more options than ever for brands to reach their audiences – and there may just be more metrics of success than there are channels. Instead of the industry players competing against each other for dominance, I would insist they work together on a solution in best interest of the industry.

Make social commerce a more robust reality. Opportunities to transact in social channels or with the help of social graph technologies are everywhere: Groupon, Gilt, One Kings Lane, Everlane, Karma, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, American Express. What this eco-system is missing is a single killer-app that anyone can use at any time to be inspired and motivated to buy. Like the iTV landscape, there are hundreds of different ways to participate and, while on balance that’s positive (it’s better than none), I’m looking for a player who can aggregate the whole social graph and connect it to my purchase and browsing history. Throw in current location and now we’re talking about a real social commerce opportunity. In fact, this may be more of a business idea than something to be legislated, so perhaps I will give up my mayorship and find a VC to fund the idea.

What would you do if you were the activist mayor of ad tech?