What a year 2017 was for programmatic advertising! Surely, 2018 can only see more transparency and greater creative execution?

But I'm not the man to ask, so I went in search of some experts. Here's what they said...

Less 'channel-thinking'

Sacha Berlik, MD, The Trade Desk:

People don’t distinguish between different channels and devices, so neither should brands. I hope that 2018 will be the year that brands truly wake up to the fact that advertising should be omnichannel to reflect the needs of today’s consumers.

The most effective way to reach a target audience is to tell them a story across multiple channels - for example, serving ads on Spotify during the consumer’s morning commute, engaging them with an in-feed ad on LinkedIn during their lunch break, and again while they are surfing on mobile on their way home.

As the advertising ecosystem becomes increasingly fragmented, brands and agencies are looking for ‘one stop shop’ tech partners with a full stack of omnichannel inventory, rather than having to work with multiple vendors.

Trusted data as asset

Chris Jacob, director of product marketing, Salesforce:

Direct trusted data sharing is beginning to fully replace the commoditized 3rd party data markets as the primary and most effective way for brands to gain valuable insights to inform their ad campaigns and publishers to increase the value of their inventory for mutual benefit.

We'll see the concept of a data holding significant monetary value to a brand in the same way as brand equity or intellectual property is today. We'll see CMOs, and CEOs, emphasize the value of data and build a complete data asset across their business (including offline and online data, and known and unknown data) in order to deliver on all parts of the consumer experience. 

Optimising the supply chain 

Jim Hawker, owner, Threepipe:

For 2018 we expect to see the proliferation of companies and tech specifically designed at auditing and optimising the supply chain in a continuation of the 2017 trend. This will be fuelled by DSPs wanting to differentiate in a crowded marketplace but we would be surprised if the start-up specialists don’t get there first.

Jack Glanville, programmatic analyst at Journey Further:

While a lot was said about transparency this year, hopefully 2018 will be the year of action. The preference for self-service platforms over black box solutions will grow, in turn shining a brighter light on the questions of media mark-ups and hidden tech fees.

Hopefully there should be greater transparency when it comes to attribution too, triggered in part by the planned rollout of Google Attribution. More accessible than other costly enterprise solutions, this new tool will give advertisers greater clarity on the cross-channel impact of their programmatic activity.

Programmatic TV

Daniel Gilbert, CEO, Brainlabs:

There is an arms race amongst TV broadcasters and digital platforms in terms of programmatic TV. Everyone, from ITV to Sky to Amazon, is trying to crack it in their own way. Because of this, I think we’re going to see a very accelerated progression in programmatic TV, with major breakthroughs happening next year.

Instead of just VOD and OTT advertising being available, I think the first programmatic linear inventory will enter the programmatic inventory pool.

Blockchain verification of legitimate traffic

Jim Hawker:

Another trend we may start to see is companies trying to apply block chain technology for verification but there are quite a few hurdles to this, (not least the speed increases needed) so if this does come it will likely be a late 2018 entry with a limited scope in comparison to what it may be in a few years.

Artificial intelligence to free up creative flair

Sacha Berlik:

AI will continue to be an industry buzzword in 2018. And rightly so – in advertising, AI solutions can be used to apply automated scale, speed and insights in areas such as campaign optimisation and audience discovery. But they haven’t yet reached the level of efficacy to perform all the tasks of a human trader.

Plus, systems that rely solely on AI could make bidding, site list, or audience segmentation decisions without explaining the factors considered in making these choices. This renders it almost impossible for traders to understand key drivers of performance, and leaves no way to apply custom, competitive strategies. 

In this brave new world of AI and data-driven marketing, humans are and will remain in the driving seat. Humans might not have the number-crunching skills to compete with a computer, but we have something far more important, which is relevant experience that can be used in both creative and analytical ways. 

Alessandra Di Lorenzo, chief commercial officer, Media & Partnerships, lastminute.com group:

The advertising industry will embrace the trend of predictive targeting and artificial intelligence. This will hopefully be the next wave of evolution that we'll see in the programmatic space.  

Innovation creates new opportunities. Jobs change and new skills are required, and academia will need to step up to prepare the younger generations for the new roles that are being created every day.

As technology evolves, machines will replace or simplify labour intensive work, giving employees the opportunity to step into more skilled or creative roles. At this point in time, machines still cannot replicate the human touch, with our creative and emotional flair. This is where marketers can continue to add a lot of value and strive to bring better products to the right audiences, while using machines to increase the effectiveness of their ad campaigns.

Chris Jacob:

Brands will increasingly embrace artificial intelligence into their ad strategies. For example, marketers will turn to AI to roll out journey sequencing of messages to audiences and predictive audiences to reach consumers with a given offer.

GDPR as a positive

Daniel Gilbert:

I guess the big question mark is about GDPR, which will come into effect in May next year. There’s been a lot of doom and gloom about it, especially from smaller businesses dreading the costs of non-compliance. Yet the evidence is all in favour of GDPR being very positive for the ad industry: greater transparency will improve the consumer attitude towards personalised advertising, which is so important when you consider just how personalised advertising is going to become. 

GDPR will also help agencies like my own, who use third-party data to improve targeting in programmatic campaigns. Having a better understanding of the provenance and exact nature of these data will definitely help improve the relevance of programmatic advertising.

e-Privacy a potential headache?

Jack Glanville:

Data-wise, GDPR will have wide-reaching effects, but it is the ePrivacy regulation currently making its way through European parliament that could really disrupt the programmatic world. If passed in its current form, cookies will become opt-in on a browser level, which spells real trouble for cookie-based solutions & third-party data providers. 

More on programmatic:

Ben Davis

Published 20 December, 2017 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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