‘Transparency will be driven by clients’ and contextual marketing will resurge: takeaways from The Drum’s predictions event

Following last year’s many controversies from YouTube’s brand safety crisis to Pepsi’s ad debacle, 2018 presents an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start anew. At The Drum’s Predictions event, panelists were asked how they see the issue of transparency unfolding this year as well as what the future holds for customer experiences and data.

See the main highlights of the day below.

Transparency will be driven by client expectations

As major brands have begun examining their accounts, with $10bn worth of media business under review, agencies are facing the pressure to demonstrate how they are mitigating against ad fraud. For Paul Wright, CEO at Iotec, this will be the year when transparency starts getting treated seriously.

“Clients are seriously concerned that transparency has not reached the heights they want to see. Transparency will be driven by clients wanting greater efficiency out of digital budgets,” he said on a panel hosted by Spotify’s head of programmatic, Zuzanna Gierlinska.

Header bidding will grow in other markets

Header bidding, the art of entertaining multiple bids simultaneously for yield optimisation, has proven popular among publishers and this year, this popularity will continue leading to growth in other markets, according to James Brown, managing director EMEA at Rubicon Project.

“Header bidding in 2017 was very predominately in the UK and the US. In 2018 it will grow rapidly in other markets such as the Netherlands, Italy and France. We will also see a big shift away from proprietary wrappers,” he said.

A shift from ‘push’ to ‘pull’ marketing and the rise of native ads

Data was also a huge topic of conversation last year as marketers attempted to use it to improve the customer journey. For Stephanie Himoff, managing director for UK & Ireland at Outbrain, amid all the noise the consumer’s interest has been lost. She said marketers will need to get smarter in how they use data.

“Marketers need to understand that to build a long-term relationship with the consumer they need to rely on 'pull technique',” she said. “There is going to be a big shift from 'push' to 'pull' marketing and this will mean understanding the deep authentic interests of your user and making the interaction more personalised.”

Ally Stuart, managing director at Sharethrough agreed with Himoff on marketers looking at different ways to capture the consumer’s attention. For him, native ads offer this opportunity. “[Marketers] are looking at their consumption patterns, like their editorial content and how ads fit into that experience. Native is moving into the programmatic ecosystem and a lot of the demand is going that way. Either through native display or native adstream,” he added.

Accountability will rise for every CMO

CMOs are facing pressure to adapt to changing technologies as well as meet customer expectations. This pressure will intensify in 2018, said Phil Dance, enterprise sales director at Datorama.

“CMOs are under pressure to drive results and demonstrate returns. Accountability will rise to the top of every CMOs agenda. Last year, we saw brand safety and ad fraud take centre stage and this year we will see an expansion of this where accountability reaches every area of marketing. That will lead to an increase in analytics and technology to help bring this together so CMOs finish the year with a joined-up view of all marketing data in one place,” he said.

Advertising will welcome a new player in town: Amazon

Traditionally tech giants Google and Facebook have been enjoying control of the digital ad market. According to eMarketer’s forecast last year, the duopoly was expected to grab more than 60% of 2017 digital ad spend.

But this year a new player will shake things up. As if retail giant’s Amazon global domination of almost every industry is not enough – Amazon is entering the advertising market. And there is plenty to play for. “This is the year Amazon will take advertising seriously and instead of talking about Google and Facebook, we will be talking about all three,” noted Brandon Meyers, chief revenue officer at Adara.

Entertainment and advertising will merge

As new technologies enter the marketplace, brands have been experimenting with augmenting content campaigns to make memorable experiences for consumers. This year, we are going to see this trend continue, said Timothy Armoo, chief executive officer at Fanbytes.

“In 2018 we are going to see the convergence of entertainment and advertising and augmented reality (AR) will be a huge part of that. People will feel part of a shared experience.”

“One of the focal points will be the customer journey. How do you create a seamless experience for the consumers to make sure they are being reached with the right ad, at the right time and not in a siloed way?” added Marina Arnaout, director of customer success at Marin Software.

Contextual targeting will rise

With ad-blocking on the rise, advertisers must become savvier in how they target consumers. Contextual relevance is key to achieving this goal; by determining where the consumer is at that moment in time and placing an ad strategically.

“Contextual video will go through a huge resurgence and help publishers entertain their audiences. Think of when print advertising was always bought in context of placing the right articles in the right magazine. Somehow, we lost that, and we will see a huge resurgence in contextual targeting and video,” said Kai Henniges, co-founder and CEO at Video Intelligence.

Daniel Dunn, founder and CEO at Paperplanes agreed, adding: “I would like to see agnostic strategy being used to utilise the right channels for your customer, placing your customer at the heart of your journey. Addressable TV is going to explode in 2018.”

Useless metrics will end

Marketers have been debating the use of metrics for years, questioning its real purpose. “I hope that we move away from these bizarre easy to measure things and concentrate on what's valuable. We’re obsessed with these metrics which we all know are bullshit. My hope is that we move away from that,” said Peter Day, head of engineering at Quantcast.

Are we ready for GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and data privacy was on the lips of every panelist that day. With just a few more months to go till the regulation comes into practice, how is everyone feeling about it? Will it be a game-changer or does it spell times of doom?

Stuart said GDPR presents a good opportunity for companies to reassess themselves and only sees positive outcomes: “Users should own their own data and understand how it is being used and GDPR makes us focus on how we are doing that. In terms of our business, it will add more weight to contextual buying.”

Jan-Willem Borsboom, SVP at Improve Digital reminded the audience of how The Netherlands reacted to a similar regulation which took effect in 2015.

“It scared the living daylights out of everyone. But after a couple of weeks, everyone started accepting cookies again. My main question around this is: the access you give must be freely given. As a publisher, we could say if you don't accept our cookies you only get access to a limited area of the website - forcing people to accept cookies to get access to everything.

“But my reading of the law is that you cannot do that anymore. Meaning that as a publisher, you have to give access regardless of whether people accept cookies or not. If that's true, then it's going to be a big game-changer because people will say I don't like advertising and I don't want to accept cookies anymore,” he warned.

For more insights from the panelists on what trends they anticipate in the year ahead, watch the video above.

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