Chris Kelly, Founder, and CEO, Survata, gives insights on how to improve digital advertising in general and programmatic in particular
The last year brought a reckoning to digital advertising. Advertisers boycotted YouTube for brand safety concerns, the extent of the Russian efforts was revealed, and the public’s trust in digital advertising was called into question. However, we saw some bright spots, as the industry at least started to recognized the problems within programmatic.
As we sprint into 2018, much must be done to improve digital advertising in general and programmatic in particular. We’ve already seen some prognostications about 2018, so here are three other things that need to happen for digital advertising to mature in the year ahead.
Advertisers need to care about the “who,” not just the “what” and “where”
In 2016, the digital ad industry was abuzz about viewability, meaning “what” part of an ad the consumer sees. The year 2017 was all about brand safety, or in other words,“where” the ads ran.
However, the industry has largely ignored programmatic’s audience quality problem, that is “who” is actually seeing the ad? Do the audience segments powering programmatic truly contain whom they’re proclaimed to contain? The truth is: possibly not, depending on your data provider. It’s time we change that. As New York Times CEO Mark Thompson recently wondered, “When we say a member of the audience is a female fashionista aged 20 to 30, what’s the probability that ‘s actually true?”
This is the worst-kept secret in programmatic, and and it’s finally starting to see the light of day. I predict standards will arise to give advertisers a common vocabulary to validate audience quality.
Branding metrics should better tie to sales metrics
Brands have wisely taken advantage of the recent explosion of “sales lift” measurement. However, as they consider the trade-off between branding goals and acquisition goals, the pendulum has swung too far, a comment noted by Microsoft at the Attribution Accelerator conference last October. If brands are to meet the full potential of marketing in the changing media landscape, then “brand owners must strike a better balance between the long and short term,” according to a recent IPA report.
Fortunately, brands won’t need to choose between branding measurement and sales measurement. Syncing short-term sales goals and long-term brand goals is becoming simpler with the rise of DMPs and middleware layers like LiveRamp, which means that this year I expect more brands to develop in-house benchmarks showing how branding success ties to downstream sales success. As measurement becomes more sophisticated, new ways of marrying datasets will allow brands to track how upper-funnel metrics drive lower-funnel metrics.
Brands have to diversify spends now because Amazon will have another blockbuster year in advertising
There seemingly isn’t a vertical that isn’t being “Amazon-ed.” Digital advertising is no exception.
In 2017, the juggernaut made a splash with its meteoric digital advertising growth, and 2018 appears to promise further growth. I’m increasingly seeing Amazon on media plans, as advertisers crave their proprietary intent and purchase data. According to our recent report, many consumers treat Amazon as a search engine, continually giving the company tremendous amounts of upper-funnel data to leverage in programmatic advertising.
I expect brands to increase their Amazon spend at an increasing rate, and I expect the word “triopoly” to enter our lexicon as we see beyond the Facebook and Google duopoly.
Ultimately, we can never fully tell what the year has in store for us, but I’m already looking forward to December “year in review” articles to see how close we were.
by Chris Kelly