Alistair Goodman, CEO, Ericsson Emodo.
The market for programmatic advertising is under great pressure. And too many marketers seek help from tech vendors who don’t lighten this burden, but instead add it. The vendor space is full of companies and tools that are ill-suited to tackle a post-identity, privacy-constrained world. In an industry that is changing too fast for marketers to cope without help, brands struggle to understand what help they need, what they need to ask to get it, and what value their tech partners are actually delivering. Marketers need to be equipped to push past vendors who can’t successfully move into the programmatic future and focus on those who can. To do that, it’s crucial for marketers to understand the key trends challenging the industry and their own business and how to start conversations about them. Here are three of those trends.
Trend 1: Industry Consolidation
For years, adtech consolidation was a popular prediction that didn’t come true. It’s finally here, definitively. From TripleLift to buy 1plusX (subscription required) for a slew of other mergers and acquisitions in recent years, established and trusted adtech companies continue to unite and improve their internal capabilities. Companies such as Magnite, Tremor Video, Integral Ad Science, AppLovin, ironSource, Taboola, and Outbrain are investing in CTV ad serving, data sources, and contextual targeting tools. The trend towards technical consolidation is important for marketers when it comes to vertical integration. Vertical integration is a clear advantage, making campaign planning, execution and measurement more efficient and cost effective. Efforts to provide an end-to-end solution simplify the ad supply chain, promise greater transparency and accountability, and lower the dreaded “adtech burden.”
Trend 2: The Cookiepocalypse
Industry stakeholders have been overly optimistic about the chances of one scalable solution competing Google’s privacy sandbox, as well as the scale of each opt-in identity solution. Targeting or measurement methods must scale beyond ID-based inventory to be effective even remotely.
We’re not there yet. Currently, the industry is struggling to provide an alternative deterministic way of targeting and measurement that offers significant incremental scale. At the same time, marketers are being told to prepare for the inevitable by collecting amounts of first-party data — easier said than done. Unless a brand is one of the lucky few that can fall back on first-party data, marketers should look to machine learning (ML) to fill their data gaps. AI and ML are ideal solutions to achieve scale in an environment where brands only have opt-in data. Industry stakeholders should now focus on and explore those solutions, rather than get bogged down at first trying to solve for 1-to-1 deterministic targeting and measurements.
Trend 3: VR/AR provides a creative renaissance
VR and AR have launched a discussion about the interconnected immersive experiences we will get in the metaverse and Web3. And as related technology evolves, so will ad creation. Surveys show that almost 3 into 4 consumers said they were willing to pay more for AR transparency, and 56% of shoppers said AR gave them more confidence in product quality. AR technology is evolving rapidly and marketers and brands are recognizing its value. For mobile alone, global AR ad revenue is expected to to achieve $26.05 billion in 2025 – impressive growth of $6.87 billion in 2020. But marketers are not putting the cart before the horse here. New types of digital experiences, like new ad formats, don’t grab consumers’ attention on their own. Relevant, engaging creative gains attention by providing a good experience from the jump. AR-enabled ads can increase that engagement and lead consumers further along the path to purchase. Now is the time for brands and agencies to turn to high-quality, immersive advertising to improve campaign performance.
Why contextual targeting should jump to the top of the marketer’s toolbox
Leading contextual vendors have been in development for years, and current contextual methods are proving to be much more sophisticated. The most advanced contextual tools use AI and ML to understand changes in relevance, the tone of the content, and the latest developments in trending news stories. Contextual 2.0 solutions also analyze other cues to understand a consumer’s location, mindset and consumption behavior.
Marketers should also consider how native advertising and contextual targeting go hand in hand. Ads that adapt to the design, text, and overall environment naturally match insights that tailor ads to contextually relevant content.
Measurement is not ready for what is to come
The cookie pocalypse will force changes in ad targeting, but the threat to measurement is more serious. Targeting doesn’t have to be 100% accurate. Measurement does. There is no room to take liberties with measurement methods. It is not enough to measure only on sites and apps where the user is logged in; effective measurement must closely follow a consumer during his journey. The reasons the industry needs innovation and imagination here are the same as for targeting: there is a limited amount of deterministic data for marketers and their partners to use, and tightening privacy guidelines is likely to wipe out even that amount of data. Building on a flawed, increasingly staggering status quo will not be enough.
Brand marketers are always faced with the challenge of solving immediate problems for the benefit of their teams, companies and campaigns. However, it is essential to see the big picture: what all these small crises (and opportunities) contribute to. Taking note of these trends will give your business not only a fruitful quarter, but also the sustainable strategies it needs to thrive for years to come.