The IAB recently announced that digital ad spend rose 16.6% in the first half of 2014 alone -- with British companies spending a record 3.5 billion pounds on digital advertising in just 6 months. Recent figures from ZenithOptimedia show that it will account for 28.3% of total ad spending by 2016, but at the expense of the erosion of more traditional media.
We all know that aside from consumers going online, the biggest change for the industry has been programmatic. However, events like ad:tech London have reminded us that programmatic is no longer an add-on -- it is modern media buying. Whether we are talking about RTB or programmatic direct, the scale of the market means that to advertise effectively online brands must embrace programmatic -- and online is increasingly taking over. When everything from our watches, to our cars and to our fridges becomes connected, being "offline" will increasingly become a thing of the past.
So where do marketers sit within this new online, programmatic world? Well, the answer is that they are just trying to do their job in the most creative, most effective way possible -- and they are fast realising that programmatic is the way to achieve this. What we are seeing, however, is that as programmatic becomes more ingrained in marketing practices, and marketers become more attuned to how it works and how it can benefit them, they become more critical. They demand more insights, and more accountability, which means as an industry we need to iron out the flaws in our processes together to achieve something that really works and is mutually beneficial.
Issues such as brand safety and viewability are bound to come to the fore as marketers naturally expect more from digital advertising. After all, online advertising is driven by tech and algorithms, whereas traditional media like broadcast TV can’t offer the same type of accountability and measurement because the data simply isn’t available. The four ‘Summits’ that make up this year’s ad:tech conference echo this and summarise the key concerns for today’s advertisers: Future Media & Technology, Data-Fuelled Marketing, Engagement & Experience, Platforms & Devices. What this says is that media is changing at a breakneck speed as consumers pick up new devices and new behaviours, and marketers are chasing to catch up -- but that at the core of overcoming this is data.
Data is disrupting the industry enormously from a marketer’s perspective -- and while they can see the potential, they aren’t necessarily seeing the results that they would desire. There is a need to reassemble and rework processes around this brave new world, but without the assurance from data feedback and results, how are marketers supposed to know whether this big step is one worth taking? There are also strategic concerns that need to be addressed, as digital must be part of a broader campaign that connects online to offline channels. For this kind of strategy to take place we need to make sure marketers are well informed and in control, which means providing them with the tools to activate and act upon their data, rather than doing this for them behind a curtain.
What is becoming clear is that this is the next step. The industry has been through a huge growth stage, and now it’s ready to mature and work in a way that is clear, accountable and effective. We’re all doing great work to improve advertising, but there is still work to be done in order to maximise the opportunity for our industry as a whole.