For years, companies have been collecting data almost without any strategy in place. While the amount of data continues to grow, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) discussions have also developed around topics like Cambridge Analytica, causing a rethink. Everyone is trying to gain more control over their data – advertisers, agencies, publishers, tech providers and yes, the end user. Advertisers, in particular, have recognized the competitive advantage in terms of personalization and individualization. We can, therefore, prepare ourselves for a significantly intensified focus on the topics of data quality, governance, analysis, and risk management for 2019.
This is just the beginning because data ownership is no longer a niche issue. It is gaining strategic importance. Advertisers have already started examining their own investments in ad servers or DSPs in addition to DMPs, which presents a new challenge for Adtech providers. Suddenly there are completely different requirement catalogs to integrate technologies into existing IT infrastructures.
What does this mean for agencies in particular, who are already seeing consulting firms expand their presence in the advertising space? Well, only very few advertising companies will be able to handle the complete campaign process in-house, in addition to taking care of data ownership. Agencies will continue to play a very important role, from targeting groups, planning creativity, to transparent reporting, they must live up to their changing role as value-adding partners.
The future of walled gardens and the need for a cross-platform identity
Privately, most of us have long been customers of the big international internet giants – a fact that will only intensify as business models of the walled gardens expand. In many areas, these companies already have a hegemonic position in the market, as vast amounts of data flow into walled gardens, but only a fraction comes out again. Transparency into processing, therefore, becomes a problem – the fact that “no data” gets out is an issue for advertisers. To take control, frequency and exposure must be managed in the best way possible for the consumer – whether that’s by the end customer, marketing, or via the publisher.
The way the walled gardens operate is reflected in the dwindling trust in the services offered. If there’s one thing we learned in 2018, it’s that the much talked about data control, clean data handling, and reliable metrics aren’t that far off. The fronts between the big tech players and the independent providers in all industries have long since hardened. So, it is all the more understandable that the call for alternatives is becoming louder. In marketing, it is ultimately the cross-platform user identity that allows tracking and personalized targeting of the user, even outside the walled gardens. While a lot of preparatory work has gone into this topic this year, we at Adform expect the industry to go to market in 2019 with a real counterweight.
Ad creative will increasingly catch up with adtech
The biggest issue in programmatic is that we can do all this great targeting and end up delivering the same boring banner to all users. All you have to do is look around the creatives submitted to Cannes Lions to see what’s possible in this area. The barriers to creativity are mostly in human heads. The technology is already there; it is the efficiency of using it and thus human-machine collaboration and interfaces – what we call artificial intelligence (AI) nowadays.
The speed of delivery and personalization of content will increase in 2019. After all, a banner is more than its click-through rate! Dynamic advertising media that addresses every user in a personalized way will increasingly liberate us from the same boring banner used in programmatic in the coming year. Online we no longer have weeks, days or hours, the user is now in a time-specific situation and we can reach them with a certain message at the moment. The technology is there to tell us exactly when this moment is, and how a user can be identified and targeted at that precise moment. We just have to be responsive, adjusting the creatives and materials accordingly to a multitude of different scenarios. Of course, this takes time, but the cost benefits are there and play a critical role in the road to optimizing and automating processes for the benefit of the consumer’s experience.