We had the chance to speak with Levi Schapiro, organizer of the Ad & Social Tech Summit taking place February 11 at Tel Aviv University, to find out what makes Israel a source of innovation in advertising technology, and what we can look forward to at the summit. Read about it in this interview.

What makes Israel such an important hub of innovation in advertising technology?
Israel is home to more than 300 registered advertising technology companies and hundreds of social media technology start-ups. As major Silicon Valley companies continue to slash their R&D budgets (HP reduced the percentage of budget for R&D from 9% in 2001 to 2% in 2012), many of these companies look to Israel as a source of innovation and potential M&A. Some interesting facts:

  • Highest per capita (non-military) R&D spend in the world, at nearly 5% of GDP
  • Highest percentage of population with backgrounds in science and engineering
  • Highest per capita allocation of venture capital in the world
  • World #4 in US Patents issued, despite a population of only 7 million

This technical talent pool is further strengthened with the presence of more than 200 R&D Centers from a variety of industries beyond traditional IT. Some examples include automotive (General Motors), Retail (Sears), Banking (Citi), Packaged Goods (P&G), Advertising (Google, Young & Rubicam), Hardware (Apple), etc.

Several notable exits have occurred in the last twelve months, including acquisitions of MediaMind by DG, Amobee by SingTel and Dotomi acquired by ValueClick. As a result, talented technical teams are obtaining relevant technical skills at the multinational R&D Centers and then applying their skills toward advertising related start-ups. Not all succeed of course but this cycle has transformed Israel into an ad:tech hub.

What are the key trends in this field today?
Products are now oriented toward a single constituency, such as Demand Side Platforms (DSP) for buyers, Supply Side Platforms (SSP) for sellers as well as real-time ad exchanges using Real Time Bidding (RTB). The sector remains highly fragmented and is ripe for consolidation. Traditional acquirers like Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft are struggling to rejuvenate their premium online advertising businesses so the M&A market has slowed in the last few years.

Another key trend is the dramatic increase in the percentage of ad-spend allocated toward online. For instance, online advertising in the UK represents the largest advertising category – more than a third larger than the television advertising market. Within the online advertising category, display and video ads are growing even faster than search. However, the fastest growth sector was social media. Brands recognize that consumer attention has moved to social networking sites and have been proactively expanding their advertising efforts toward social media.

Who is coming to the conference and why should people attend?
Attendees will have the opportunity to interact with senior executives from very large global brands, agencies and publishers. The emphasis of this event is to help strong technical organizations to better understand their potential customers. As a result, the Ad & Tech Summit is bringing together two disparate groups that would normally not connect with one another: Israeli vendors and global brands. Perhaps even more importantly, all sessions are focused on the FUTURE of our industry. Presentations have been carefully screened to ensure that 90% of the content is devoted to a vision of the future. The goal is to provide global best practices that can be implemented into your company’s business and technical processes in the short-term.

While most of the attendees have technical and managerial roles at social media and ad:tech technology start-ups, 10% of the confirmed attendees to date work in the venture and investment community. Pay close attention to the person having coffee next to you — they may turn out to be your future Sugar Daddy.

The Ad & Social Tech Summit explores the future of the global ad:tech sector. Brand, Publisher and agency thought-leaders from around the world, including the US, Europe and Japan, will share their perspectives for 2013 and beyond. For more information about the Ad & Social Tech Summit, visit this link. Receive a 15% discount when you register using the promotional code: adtech13.