Could it be that 2016, for all the action taking place elsewhere, was actually a rather uninspiring year for adtech? 2016 will be remembered in adtech as a year when macroeconomic trends, such as public adtech market woes, M&A and the rise of China took center stage, while advertisers called for a clean up across the board. Keith Weed of Unilever has led the ‘clean up the mess’ brigade, calling on marketers to “catch up, be ready to compete in clear water with sensible metrics and with sensible metrics”.
2017 will bring a new set of challenges for publishers and advertisers. Internet of things is starting to become mainstream; machine learning updates are happening at an eye-popping rate, and marketers are looking to further connect their digital and retail offerings.
Physical and digital worlds collide
In 2016, more retailers followed innovators such as Macy’s, Walmart and Kohl’s and started to offer services like site-to-store purchasing and beacon notifications. Target recently announced that it would start testing beacon technology in 50 major cities nationwide, and Macy’s has recently expanded its beacon program nationwide.
In the UK, Waitrose recently started using iBeacon technology at its Swindon store to deliver price promotions to customers when they were near a particular aisle. In 2017, customers will increasingly expect this kind of service, and there will be a significant increase in high quality cross-device data vendors to help marketers drive online prospects to real-world locations and enable accurate attribution.
Customer identity becomes a marketing reality
Marketers are getting ever more savvy about what their data can and cannot do for them. While demographic data from third-party sources can fill in blind spots about customer behaviour, it’s not able to explain a customer’s full relationship with a retailer on their path to purchase. In 2017, marketers will protect their own interests by shifting to a first party customer identity strategy. This will be made possible by leveraging the technology and capabilities of third parties to provide a holistic view of their customer.
Data, privacy and regulation become front and center
The ICO, the UK’s data protection regulator, recently released the results of its 2016 Annual Track survey, finding that only one in four UK adults trust businesses with their personal information, but would be willing to share data with businesses if privacy was guaranteed.
In 2017, regulators will continue to regulate beyond the cookie, bringing to market new regulation around the capturing, use and transport of consumer data. Europe will be on a clear path to compliance of the 2018 General Data Protection Regulation roll-out in the EU, whilst more will come from both the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission around how our industry (including ISPs and telcos) use data. This will require particular attention from cross-device vendors, since cross-device advertising requires significant data processing.
Addressable TV goes mainstream
Addressable TV allows the insertion of ads on a household level through special set-top boxes, with advertisers buying audiences on an individual basis. This allows for some tantalising possibilities, including selectively segmenting TV audiences and serving different ads or ad pods within a common program, paving the way for a better, more personal TV experience. Expect advertisers and online players to strike up deals to programmatically serve ads to TV apps via Roku, Apple TV and similar, moving beyond large ad buys.
Customers are also now watching TV while using other devices (such as smartphones) while watching TV, opening up new channels for cross-device conversations. Whether it’s a reminder on my smartphone that the new Game of Thrones episode is available, or a promo code that unlocks a limited time offer page, TV marketing is no longer about reach and frequency, but creating memorable cross-device experiences.
Gareth Davies, CEO, Adbrain