August 28, 2023

Convergence Disrupts Our Comfort Zones. We Need to "Learn" Into It.

Today’s market is full of disruption. Advertisers should view this as an opportunity to level up their knowledge and their skills. Choosing the right partners in their educational journey is critical.

Shiv Gupta

Founder of U of Digital

We haven’t seen so much disruption, happening so fast since the start of Web 2.0. As the digital media and advertising space converges on multiple fronts, we as an industry need to learn into the knowledge gaps that live at the edge of our collapsing silos and level-up our cross-functional skills.

What’s Converging?

There are two broad areas of convergence to consider in order to understand the big picture. Later blog posts will take a deeper dive into each of these, and other, major disruptions. 

First, there’s the ongoing fusion of ad tech and martech. That disruption began several years ago as a way of connecting first-party data and customer management tools inside the marketing stack with the audience segments and targeting tools of the advertising stack. But recent changes around data privacy laws and the deprecation of the third-party cookie accelerated this convergence and forced an even bigger rethink for marketers, agencies and technology vendors. 

Next, the convergence of linear and connected TV into Advanced TV has been a long time coming, but it’s finally here. Also important (but to a lesser extent), this is about the convergence of all traditional mediums (audio, out of home, print, etc.) with digital. In fact, recent data from Nielsen shows consumption of digital video has surpassed consumption of linear TV. Meanwhile, ad spend is on a parallel path, but digital spending already has a slight edge

Then there are new, emerging areas like cloud, AI, retail media, privacy, and much more.  

Each area of convergence will mean something different to you, depending on where you sit in the industry. But the common thread is the same. Convergence pulls each of us out of our comfort zones. 

Learn Into It

Getting out of our comfort zone is a good thing! No, really. Here’s why: convergence is constantly reshaping digital because we’re always following the consumer’s lead, and consumers are always changing. Practitioners who learn into the gaps around their silos thrive in digital because there’s always a need to pioneer. This was true when channels like search, social, and email broke down their silos and joined the larger media mix, and it’s equally true as we face the current multi-front convergence.

Unfortunately, many people struggle with professional learning and development. It probably doesn’t help that many organizations treat professional development as an exercise in checking the box. And it certainly doesn���t help that many professional development programs replicate the things we disliked most about school.

We need to reframe how we think about learning and professional development in digital so that it’s practical, ongoing, and easy for everyone to engage with, regardless of their learning style. But no matter how you learn, it’s important to think about why you want to learn new skills. 

As professionals, we learn to advance our own careers, obviously. But we advance our careers by delivering for our clients, which is to say, we also learn new skills because our clients count on us to teach them how to navigate change. And our clients count on their consumers to teach them! Yahoo sets the standard of a stellar learning and teaching culture. For nearly thirty years, Yahoo has navigated one period of convergence after another. How many other companies in digital media and advertising can say that?  

Yahoo Sets The Bar

Today, teams at Yahoo are honing their skills across ad tech to better understand the customer journey and share that knowledge with their clients. Yahoo Advanced TV sellers  are navigating the converging TV world. Meanwhile, the teams that mastered the convergence of digital media channels like search, social and email, are spearheading an industry-wide convergence that impacts everything from identity to measurement to attribution. They’re not just learning a little outside their comfort zones, they’re flexing into a new world where their knowledge of first-party data is the key to client success. 

It’s a lot, I know. But the more we push outside our comfort zones, the closer we get to the consumer. After all, consumers don’t think in terms of siloed channels, or murky identity concepts, or wonky attribution models. Consumers move fluidly through an evolving digital media ecosystem. It’s our job to follow their lead, understand their behavior, and collaborate with our partners. But above all, it’s our job to teach our clients, because our success depends on their success.


About Shiv Gupta

Shiv Gupta is the Founder of U of Digital. After over a decade as an AdTech sales leader for major companies, and upon realizing his love for teaching and seeing all of the knowledge gaps across the ad tech industry, Shiv founded U of Digital in 2018, a company focused on making the complicated digital ad space more easy to understand and more efficient through education.

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