Commentary

In 2015, It's Time To Turn Words Into Action

I recently received a vintage dictionary from a former colleague. Whether it was a thoughtful gift or a subtle hint to boost my vocabulary, it coincided (ironically) with what the advertising industry needs to accomplish in the year ahead.

2014 was a year defined by words. Heated discussions surrounded the right approach to programmatic, the growth of multiplatform ad buys and the evolution of digital to be more than just online.

In the midst of the wall of words, however, was a notable dearth of action. Terminology was refined and definitions were debated, but if industry progress is defined by measurable achievements, then as much as we hoped the industry would change in 2014, much actually stayed the same.

As we look toward 2015, can we finally expect the level of progress that all of us have clamored for? The answer depends on whether the words of this coming year will turn into action, and whether that action will generate demand. With that in mind, here are three words — and more importantly, their definitions — that need to change.

1.Programmatic

Programmatic was without a doubt the most discussed and debated topic in advertising this year. (The Association of National Advertisers even went as far as to vote it the 2014 Marketing Word of the Year.) In 2015, the idea of programmatic will evolve from efficiently selling remnant and direct response, to the development of common mechanisms for selling a range of inventory more effectively.

While conversations about the topic will become more focused, we are not likely to see a common set of automated technology platforms. The definition of programmatic must be tweaked to focus on technologies to automate fragmented media buying and include audience targetability – something still limited to an elite club of media companies who control consumer data.

As with ad buys, the industry will need to define a standard system of measurement that can help us determine what works and what doesn’t when it comes to programmatic.

2.  Ad Buy

Multiplatform deals are by no means a new conversation topic in the industry, but will 2015 be the year that agencies demand fully integrated media buys that blend linear and digital components from order to delivery to invoice? Or will multiplatform remain yet another topic to contemplate. 

Without a standard measurement to support a range of distribution outlets (TV, OTT, online), television and digital will continue to be mere line items within deals that lack the ideal amount of synergy.

A specifically defined – and widely accepted – system of measurement, coupled with true agency demand, will be the driving force behind finally turning multiplatform from a concept into a reality.

3.  Media Company

The media landscape is rapidly changing, and with more anticipated mergers and other deals on the way, the services that a media company provides will extend far beyond the traditional concepts of programming and distribution. And thus their needs for selling and delivering advertising. 

Media companies will be defined by their ability to connect consumers across devices, provide data-rich insights into consumer behavior and provide services that include not only linear distribution but digital. The definition of “media company” will, without question, have the most marked impact on 2015.

Looking Ahead

Ultimately, 2015 is a year in which true demand must be created, big risk must be pursued and conversations will need to progress into actions. This combination of demand, risk and action will lead to industry change, and only then will definitions evolve into practice.

Without these three inputs, 2015 will be another year of heavy dialogue without much noticeable change.
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