The adtech industry has come a long way this year, with the ‘death of display ads’ a drunken rambling we’d rather take back. Albeit rebranded as ‘native’, display advertising is thriving again - banner ads are everywhere, from your news feeds to your search results, 2014 has seen a resurrection of the format.
Another notable change has been the increase in ad spend through programmatic, with an estimated 137% growth this year (eMarketer) and investment into video advertising at an estimated 59% increase from last year (IAB).
So with that said, it’s been a positive year for us. But what does next year hold? Here’s what I believe the digital advertising industry need to think about for a successful 2015.
Mobile is just another form of digital
2015 will be characterised by the continual increase in, and shifting of, advertising dollars from more traditional media to online. As part of this, the lines between mobile and desktop will continue to blur and marketers will need to view the mobile web for what it is - just another form of digital.
We need more transparency around data
And I don’t say ‘need’ lightly. As the industry consolidates, adtech companies will need to be more honest about where money is being spent and whether it actually delivers value back to advertisers. Those that don’t will get found out.
The industry isn’t doing a great job of policing the use of data, so I think there’s a high possibility of government intervention and regulation within the next year or two as a result. I also strongly suspect that Google will adopt a ‘no-cookie’ policy within the next 18 months, and there will be a lot of pressure on the government to regulate.
Innovation will come from the publisher space
At the moment, I don’t really see a huge amount of innovation among adtech companies. In 2015 I think we’ll see this innovation coming from the publisher space, but not from traditional media companies. We’ve already seen disruptive publishers and distributors such as NDN and Perform that are able to adapt quickly and create new revenue streams through their use of programmatic. These guys are already competing in the top 10 of comScore having come from virtually nowhere.
We need to take the reigns on programmatic
I’m sick of attempts to define programmatic. We’re doing a dreadful job as an industry trying to explain what it is and it’s not helping the education process for media brands. It doesn’t help that there is a lack of best practice case studies out there - publishers should be more comfortable in explaining how they are using these models.
Industry bodies such as the IAB and AOP also need to do more to provide leadership and education within the industry. At the moment we have a situation where programmatic - and it’s definition - is being led by tech vendors rather than the industry as a whole, and that’s skewing the picture in favor of those companies.
Viewability is a dealbreaker
Adtech companies that can use viewability as a metric and therefore provide real measurement and value, will be the ones that are ultimately successful in 2015. As the market matures and the industry becomes more transparent, we will be begin to see the companies that don’t add any real value begin to fail. Their shortcomings will be fatally exposed.
Demand for talent increases
Programmatic has risen so rapidly that it’s difficult to find people with the ready-made skillsets necessary. The biggest challenge we will have, shared by other companies in the industry, is the recruitment of suitable talent. The types of expertise needed for programmatic advertising are completely different to those of traditional advertising. We’re in the market for data scientists and mathematicians rather than copywriters, and there’s a huge battle for that type of talent. We need to convince people with a degree in maths, for example, that there are real career opportunities for them in advertising.
I don’t have a magic ball and I can’t give you any groundbreaking predictions; I think we simply need to do what we’re already doing, but better. A lot better.
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