The Next Big Thing(s) For Online Advertising: Predictions for 2015

The online advertising world is both exciting and challenging, as it often changes overnight. Blink, and you may miss out on a key development. In 2015, we will see a variety of solutions offered to  the market providing improved experiences around user-driven personalization of advertising.

More specifically the following paragraphs outline my thoughts on some of the big ad tech marketing trends expected to develop next year.

First, there will a focus on programmatic targeting of content, not just ads.  Although programmatic targeting of advertising is now very common for brands and advertisers, in 2015, we’ll see a critical mass of publishers begin to leverage behavioral data to programmatically targeted content to optimize experiences for users on publishers’ sites. Content will be personalized and specifically aimed at individual consumers on websites and blog pages, similar to the way ads have been targeted until now. Medium-to-large sized publishers will also invest in data management platforms and in-house programmatic resources.



Publishers will develop sophisticated in-house capabilities for behaviorally programmatic targeting of premium advertising.

Historically, publishers have worked with ad networks and other programmatic ad tech partners to outsource their programmatic ad targeting. However, in 2014, a number of larger publishers started to bring this capability in-house, and invest in the infrastructure to manage their own audience data, such as data management platforms. The success of these early movers will encourage more publishers to follow suit in 2015. Publishers will start to charge advertisers the same rates (and likely higher) that have historically been paid for run-of-site premium inventory for behaviorally targeted inventory.

Also, content marketing spend will need to deliver a more measurable ROI impact. Currently, many popular and influential content marketing platforms are used to power native advertising campaigns. However, these types of campaigns have been treated as brand campaigns in terms of the metrics of success used to measure their impact, including page views, retweets, likes, etc. In 2015, we’ll start to see more sophisticated means of measuring the impact of content marketing campaigns, leveraging multi-attribution techniques to understand the downstream impact on conversion caused by these higher-funnel marketing activities. For example, a brand might spend $1M on a native advertising campaign, but not understand to what degree – if any – that investment impacted ROI.

In 2015, marketers also will become more interested in correlating their spend on content marketing to a more measurable impact on overall sales and ROI, and technology partners will start to offer the means to measure that impact.

In the mobile space, a critical mass of merchants will finally optimize their mobile affiliate tracking capabilities.

Mobile phone usage has continued to escalate, with 2014 seeing mobile devices and tablets overtaking desktop computers as the preferred means of browsing on publisher and retailer websites. While the browsing experience has largely been optimized for mobile devices, the same cannot be said for tracking of performance campaigns on mobile devices. Conversion rates on mobile phones are significantly lower, many mobile browsers do not support cookies and affiliate tracking technology is still playing catch-up on mobile devices. Next year, we can expect to see retailers work to continuously improve conversion tracking and affiliate payouts, in order to satisfy the demands of their increasingly-mobile publishers.

Separately, I believe the start-up bubble will deflate slightly, and result in consolidations of a fragmented ad tech start-up market.

The last few years have seen an avalanche of entrepreneur start-up companies, many focusing on the ad tech space. While this has resulted in a great deal of innovation, and publishers and advertisers have benefited from a wealth of choices for optimizing their ad spend, we’ll start to see this slow down as some of these companies will struggle to raise successive rounds of funding.

In 2015, we’ll unfortunately see many of these ad tech start-ups struggle, and opt for consolidations with other start-ups.

Also next year, point solutions will struggle, and clients will shift their desire to want to work with more full-funnel marketing suites.  This likely will result in further consolidations of the fragmented ad tech market, resulting ideally in stronger conglomerates offering their customers a number of key services combined.

Finally, Adblockers will become as big a problem in 2015 as “viewability” was in 2014.

The increasing technical sophistication of the ad tech market, and the increasing demands on accountability by advertisers, saw ‘viewability’ become a dominant theme in 2014. Technologies that can filter out automated bot traffic, and determine if a human actually saw an ad, are regularly used now despite it reducing impression metrics significantly. This movement will continue in 2015, with attention turned towards ad blocker software.

Ad blockers (in the form of toolbars and browser extensions) have quietly gained popularity, by users wanting a faster, ad-free browsing experience. However, a little known fact about these ad blocker companies is that they monetize by charging ad companies so their ads bypass their blocking software. While a marginal problem in the early days, the popularity of these ad blockers means that ad revenues for publishers are impacted, on average about 20 percent, though up to 50 percent for publishers with a tech-savvy readership.

Alicia Navarro is CEO of Skimlinks

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