Some the changes which have been covered extensively include:

  • Platforms – some which have risen (hello Snapchat) and others, fallen (Meerkat, RIP).
  • Header bidding – which has become a significant challenger to traditional ad exchanges.
  • Advertising on messaging apps – which is tipped to bring big changes to the ad market.

At Digital Cream Singapore, we spoke with dozens of client-side marketers about these changes and how they affect their agenda for the coming year.

Surprisingly, though, most brand marketers were less concerned about the latest technology or platforms and more worried about how they will use digital advertising to deliver value to the business. 

To make that happen, participants on the day identified three things which they consider as priorities if they are to bring success in the coming year.

1) A single view of the customer

Attendees felt that most organisations have plenty of customer data. Nearly everyone has a CRM with customer attributes, most use web analytics to capture on-site user behaviour, and now a significant number have implemented a data management platform to understand what their customers do on other sites.

The problem for marketers, though, is that customer data is spread across several systems. As a result, it is difficult to join up the data and obtain a single view of the customer which links their attributes, interests, and behaviour.

Participants felt that fragmented customer data is particularly problematic for digital advertising. As digital ad platforms need data for segmenting, targeting, and positioning, marketers without a single view of the customer are not able to exploit opportunities and deliver the best value to the business.

One technology which helps marketers obtain a single customer view is a ‘customer data platform’ (CDP).

A CDP is a system which:

  • Combines data from multiple sources.
  • Lets marketers build customer profiles.
  • Delivers messaging across multiple platforms.
  • Uses decision-making algorithms to optimize performance.

While CDPs sound promising, they are relatively new and so marketers will need to conduct more research before they are widely-deployed.

More information about CDPs is available here and a list of vendors is available via the CDP Institute.

2) A cross-market ad buying strategy

Another issue client-side marketers hope to solve in 2017 is how to buy ads programmatically across different markets.

The problem marketers face is that different countries usually have different ad platforms. Marketing managers struggle with becoming familiar with each of them in order to train the regional teams.

Some participants avoid this issue by relying solely on the ‘ad duopoly’, Google and Facebook, to cover multiple markets. Others, however, find this approach limiting and feel compelled to use additional programmatic platforms to reach more consumers.

Another issue raised was that Asia-Pacific does not have many third-party measurement services which help them avoid bot fraud, fraudulent inventory, and unviewable ads. This was particularly a problem for advertisers who operate in China.

Delegates offered few ideas into what managers can do about this besides upgrading ad-buying technology and ensuring that regional marketers keep a closer eye on local ad networks.

According to a 2016 BidSwitch survey of buy-side technology firms in Asia-Pacific, the problem isn’t going away soon – and indeed may get worse. Nearly half (45%) of respondents indicated that there will be more programmatic technology companies in APAC over the next three years.

3) An attribution model

Finally, the most frequently-discussed item on the digital advertiser ‘wish list’ for 2017 was marketing attribution.

Having an agreed method for attributing marketing success to different channels has eluded most marketing teams, participants noted. The issues they face include:

  • Obtaining the view and click data from all of the channels.
  • Calculating the value of each touchpoint.
  • Using the model to dictate media spend.
  • Understanding of the customer journey.

One delegate said that their marketing team overcame some of these issues by implementing a ‘fluid’ attribution model. Their approach was to have all stakeholders meet regularly, review ad performance data and, based on hard data, adjust the attribution model appropriately.

While not perfect, introducing flexibility into the model reduced the stakes for all parties as nothing was ‘fixed in concrete’. This, in turn reduced the politics around adopting a model and led to quicker acceptance.

Still, many attendees felt that they did not yet know enough to develop an attribution model and so 2017 was going to be another year of learning.

A word of thanks

Econsultancy would like to thank all of the marketers who participated on the day and the moderator for the Online Advertising table, Stephanie Myers, Senior Vice President of Digital Marketing at HSBC.

We hope to see you all at future Singapore Econsultancy events!