The Digital Ad Space of 2020

Flicking, or more commonly, swiping your way through the marketing trade media on your tablet or mobile, it seems like every day there’s something new to learn about the online ad space. It could be a new tool launching to improve digital marketing process, a new buzzword (check out the new Contradictionary to understand these), or there’s a brand, publisher or ad exchange doing something exciting and different.

“The concept of targeting specific devices will hardly exist in 2020. It will become nonsensical to define internet-connected media content by its delivery mechanism.” – Martyn Bentley, Regional VP at programmatic ad platform, Chango

If you are foundering in the wake of this information and change, I have some bad news; the evolution of the digital ad marketplace is soon to hit light speed over the coming months and years.

So, what are the important takeaways regarding future developments in this space for those keen to remain up to speed on its current trajectory?

Cross-device capability

It’s coming. But before marketers can truly take advantage of the new cross-device landscape, one of the great conundrums of digital advertising (cross-device marketing) will need to be cracked. Luckily, unique device identifiers (UDIDs) will help move us closer to the dream of a universal cloud-based cookie. This will make it possible to establish persistent “keys” that allow for cross-channel user attribution and, in some cases, support holistic campaign execution.

Also, there is, and will increasingly be, the opportunity to collect live data on consumers from various media touchpoints that can be used for effective cross-device targeting – basically a universal live profile on consumers. The huge benefit of this to brands is being able to take a single view of consumers as they move across devices, media channels and stages in the funnel. This will drive efficiency for the brand and improve further the relevance and quality of messaging for the consumer. Brands – seek out a partner that can do this!

Furthermore, ‘Look-alike’ modelling using this data will allow for more efficient targeting by comparing individual-level data with broad audience insights and thus reduce the need for individual-level tracking.

As a result of these advances, the concept of targeting specific devices (i.e. buying on TV or mobile devices) will hardly exist in 2020. It will become nonsensical to define internet-connected media content by its delivery mechanism. Every campaign will automatically run across multiple devices because we’ll finally be tracking users through the universal cookie.

Programmatic world

Programmatic advertising technology will be at the heart of this category-free media future. In fact, by 2020, most marketers will view themselves as ‘programmatic marketers.’ Brands will use programmatic technology to automate every campaign in minute detail, with budgets targeting preselected groups of anonymous individuals on their media journeys. Indeed, another publisher, AOL, recently announced that all of its inventory will be available to be traded programmatically.

Programmatic Advertising Platforms will follow rules and automatically shift budgets to those mediums or devices that have the largest impact on purchase behaviour. All TVs will be Internet-connected and budgets will flow seamlessly across those channels that are part of the “critical path to purchase.”

But before this digital marketing utopia can be realised, there are some important hurdles that the industry will need to overcome. Addressing privacy issues, a key theme of the debate around big data, will be crucial.

If we expect consumers and government agencies to embrace the idea of a universal, cloud-based cookie, we’ll need to earn their trust first.

The problems will arise if we keep both groups in the dark. Ultimately, by being transparent and open about the information that is being gathered by digital marketing firms we’ll make consumers feel in control of their own privacy. Eventually, they should be comfortable enough to directly engage with the system, trading their own data for incentives.

Equally important will be “brand safety”. We are still seeing display ads popping up on websites featuring inappropriate and sometimes offensive content. If we can’t offer a 100% guarantee to brands that this won’t happen, then we can’t expect them to fully embrace the latest digital marketing techniques.

The industry needs to work collectively to set and enforce transparency standards that build trust.

Think more than just RTB

Think big with what you can do online, and go beyond straightforward RTB ads. Tools are evolving and new ones are launching all the time in the digital world due to fast changing technology. The trick is to spot the ones with greatest potential.

A current proposition that stands out as offering of real value in the ad marketplace is Twitter’s ‘tailored audience’ service. Using it, it’s possible to drive direct marketing efforts as well as deliver branding and advocacy campaigns. Also you can reach users on Twitter who have shown an interest in your brands or category, even away from Twitter.

What I can say is that by 2020 the marketing landscape will look very different from today. And while no one can say for sure what the future holds, you’ve got to think ahead now if you want to be ready and be in a position to thrive in the digital ad space.

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