The Next Phase Of Digital Advertising

by , Dec 6, 2013, 3:00 AM
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I’ve spent a lot of my time over the last year talking and arguing about the online display market. I’ve spent a lot of time with publishers who tell me that the SSPs and the exchanges are bad news for them, that yields are being driven down and that they are being forced into putting more prime inventory into the private marketplace deals.

I’ve spent time with the SSPs, exchanges and agencies who tell me that publishers are inflexible, that they don’t know their own data well enough and that they are not moving with the times.

I’ve spent time with advertisers who tell me that they are worried about their brand safety, worried about visibility and worried about transparency

And I’ve spent a lot of time with media agencies who are worried they are being squeezed out by technology and that they are losing out on share.

Anybody who takes more than a cursory glance at the Lumascape slide knows that the current market is unsustainable. There are too many people doing the same thing. And to put it bluntly, there’s too many people doing it badly.

And it’s not as if it’s not in their interests to find a differentiating point. Look at this year’s IPO’s of adtech companies. None could be said to be an unqualified success. On the most basic level, Wall Street is struggling to grasp what separates one adtech platform from another when both have the same major publishers on their books. Marketers are also often hard-pressed to differentiate between the offerings.

We are also all painfully aware that the industry lacks standardized metrics that would make it easy for investors to compare companies. Some claim that impressions serve as the main indicator of a booming business whilst others point to average price per thousand impressions.

So far so gloomy but recently, I’ve been hugely encouraged by some of the meetings I’ve been having. The same buzz words keep cropping up such as transparency, safety, clarity and value. Every week I get press releases about new start-ups focussing on making the display market better for both advertisers and publishers. Could this be the start of Display 2.0?

Last week, I met with Niall Hogan, MD at Integral Ad Science, who confirmed that the market is starting to change. 

“I agree that we are now in the next phase of the digital advertising industry. Digital is excellent at identifying and targeting users; with technology being applied at the simple to more sophisticated end of the spectrum to execute digital campaigns. In order to gain the trust of advertiser brands in the digital environment we, as an industry, need to be more transparent about the advertising environment. While we have the ability to spread the message to a defined target audience across massive scale, we have to be honest with advertisers where their brand is appearing and the quality of the page that they have purchased. It is incumbent on the industry to create a brand-safe environment for advertisers and a quality experience for consumers.”

So the message for the industry seems to be a clear one. It’s no longer enough just to be able to show you can do it. We know the technology is there, we know what can be done. Now we need that next step. Don’t just show us you can do it. Show us you can do it well.

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