Finding Constants in the Age of the Unexpected
6 February 2018 12:44pm
From Brexit fallout to Facebook-Fakenews-gate, 2017 scored high on the unexpectedness scale. Right now, only the foolish would attempt a look into the crystal ball.
Or so you’d think. But in fact, in the ad industry what we’re seeing right now are some very clear constants within all the wider uncertainty.
Instead of the usual lofty predictions on VR, AR, blockchain and (probably) jetpacs, what follows are some slightly more mundane prophecies. Trends we’ve followed and seen mature for quite some time.
Granted, they might not feature in whatever is the modern equivalent of Tomorrow’s World. But on the plus side, I would argue, they’ll be far more valuable to your making your marketing a success in 2018:
Transparency, Data & GDPR
2018 will see the continued expansion of anti-fraud efforts led by the IAB, like ads.txt and ads.cert – all of which should hopefully mean a much harder time for fraudsters.
But if ads.txt has already seen strong adoption on the publisher side, increasing transparency and counteracting domain spoofing, what of the agency world?
If there’s one thing as sure as death and taxes in advertising, it’s that once we have a benchmark we can all get behind, there will invariably be those who adopt that new standard in name only.
If you don’t believe me, just see the examples listed in this anonymous Digiday ‘confessions’ piece from an ex-media exec. These include selling i/o-based campaigns disguised as programmatic to add margin, paperwork change tricks that get around contractual guarantees on rebates, and the elephant in the room – inaccurate 3rd party data, arbitraged and sold at more than ten times the original cost.
All is not lost for advertisers though. One ray of light comes in the form of GDPR. This new, stricter EU privacy legislation demands user opt-in for all types of tracking, and may even be the end of 3rd party data as we know it.
Crystal balls aside, we can only hope this is the case, for the future of all honest, client-focused advertising businesses.
2018 will be a big year for transparency. Get it wrong, and the writing’s on the wall – some are already predicting more than 60% of brands taking programmatic in house within the next five years.
AI, Machine Learning or Something Else Entirely
Perhaps even more than transparency, artificial intelligence was the ad industry’s new favourite buzzword in 2017.
The author Arthur C. Clarke famously said “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” – and with AI, this quote springs readily to mind.
But also bear in mind this alternative version of the saying: “Any technology, no matter how primitive, is magic to those who don’t understand it.”
In 2018, I hope to see a more solid general understanding of AI develop. In many ways, the same process we’ve been through since the early days of programmatic. Also, more practical, concrete uses of AI that materially help brands succeed in marketing – say around viewability, for instance – and maybe even counteract fraud in these areas too.
Here’s to agencies helping clients move past the ‘magic’ stage, to the point where we can better interrogate the hype, and who knows? Maybe even separate true AI from machine learning, and the rest that is something else entirely.
Browsers & Tech Giants: the New Ad Blockers
Back in the digital ad trenches, 2018 should see the old conflict between commerce and user experience come to a head in the shape of the Coalition for Better Ads. With its standard for acceptable ads set out, and backed by ad giants like Google, expect the coalition to start penalising publishers who ignore it in February, via its policing mechanism - the Chrome browser.
Of course, it’s hard to argue the Coalition/Google don’t have a point – over-intrusive ad formats do need clamping down on. And perhaps only a digital giant like Google (sorry, the Coalition) has the heft to pull something like this off.
But on the other hand, with Google reportedly paying an eye-watering annual whitelisting fee to AdBlock Plus, it’s not an entirely altruistic move. It also neatly fails to confront other problems in advertising – principally retargeting – which arguably have contributed to ad blocking just as much, if not more than interstitials and other aggressive formats.
Constants within Uncertainty
So, in conclusion – as much as things change, many others stay the same – and at Addition Plus, our aim is to be that constant for our clients amid all the uncertainty.
We look forward to a productive 2018, as well as to redoubling our efforts around communicating with the wider industry.
Managing Director, Addition Plus