"We've made this industry too confusing and we can only fix it with open platforms," Lord said. "I think the creative world has been stuck. In the past, you had three siloes: technology, media and creativity. They could each operate independently and do pretty well. That's not the case anymore."
In Lord's view, media buying and technology have been disrupted while creative, which commands the attention of brands, has not. Improvements will come only when marketers demand the same kind of accountability for creative as they currently require for direct response advertising.
But Lord also insisted both media buying and technology disciplines need to evolve. "We all need to stop talking about ad units and start talking about brand experiences," Lord said. "I would predict a merging of brand metrics with direct response metrics. We haven't had that, but I think we’re getting there."
For AOL, that combination pivots on its ability to build content and programmatic business around video, which are central to what he called AOL CEO Tim Armstrong's "two big bets."
That strategy involves looking at AOL's owned and operated properties and determining where video fits. "The video strategy sits somewhere between a Hulu and a YouTube type site, with a middle layer of curated video content," Lord said. "When Publicis and Omnicom merge, they’re going to have a lot of buying power for publishers. And that will lead to the demands for greater creativity and to match the accountability for direct response that we've been used to."