2015 brought a lot of change and transition to the advertising technology space as brands demanded more viewability and transparency in their media buys and publishers became more comfortable with programmatic. As 2016 unfolds, we’re seeing even more disruption as companies consolidate and the market contracts. Here are the trends that I see defining the industry in the coming months.
- Telcos become major ad tech acquirers. Verizon’s acquisition of AOL was the first of what will be many investments in ad tech by the telecommunications industry. The AT&T and DirectTV merger also indicates more telco investment in video and TV content. Telcos understand the value of their audience, and are banking on getting more value out of all the consumer data they have.
- Software is what will stick. The old network model is being replaced as inventory differentiation and uniqueness becomes increasingly important in the market. Companies with real technology platforms, and increasingly ones that operate with a recurring revenue model versus a variable media buying model will continue to succeed and outlast in the space. Operative, as one example, is the favored ad trading platform for publishers like Vox Media, Refinery29, and Vice Media, new digital-only publishers who are eschewing traditional ad tech for tools that give them more control.
- Publisher technology platforms must become experts in content and audiences to differentiate themselves.Positioning just around mobile or just around video (ad formats) won’t be enough. Those that don’t adapt will fail in an increasingly consolidating market. The current context of a user–where they are, what they’re reading and what device they’re on–will matter more than ever as advertisers look to create more personalized experiences for their core customers.
- Cookies will meet their end in favor of other measurement tools. Mobile growth has made the need for new measurement metrics more pressing than ever before. The need for accurate cross-device measurement and analytics will be more important than ever before to measure TV/digital/mobile usage and accurately map users. Accurate mobile In-App measurement will come to the forefront as well.
- Renewed focus on user experience in wake of ad blockers. Millennials are hyper-engaged within their digital environment, and are taking control of how it looks and feels. In turn, marketers need to adjust to this generational shift and better understand the right and most effective ways to reach consumers and build an ongoing relationship with them–not just digital noise.
- Programmatic Guaranteed gains momentum. More publishers want to embrace programmatic without giving up control or CPM; tools that enable brands to buy the way they want to buy (programmatically) while letting publishers maintain competitive CPMs will be a win-win: Buyers get the quality inventory they’re looking for and publishers don’t have to sacrifice their earnings for efficiency.