The Search For A Single Stack: Answer To Video's Fragmentation Problems?

There are more digital advertising formats, channels and devices than ever before, providing numerous ways for brands to connect with consumers. This is exciting for both advertisers and publishers, but also daunting. With multiple technology options for every channel, each of these formats and executions must be considered independent of one another. Video itself is exploding, especially on mobile screens, resulting in a marketing ecosystem that is changing faster than the tools designed to transact the media.

The LUMAscape illustrates the over-abundance of fragmented and disparate point solutions that marketers must navigate to push their video messages out across all screens. It’s not much easier for publishers, who are forced to use several systems to monetize and optimize the display, video and mobile inventory these marketers are buying. Both parties are crying out for holistic solutions to better perform the operations required to execute video campaigns and tie those campaigns together with other marketing channels. Today, however, those systems are virtually nowhere to be found.



Mobile’s rise further contributes to this problem. Advertisers and publishers weren’t prepared to handle the mass consumer migration to mobile devices that began with the iPhone’s launch in 2007. Desktop-first technologies were simply not engineered to manage ads on mobile devices.

Emerging companies developed dedicated technologies to solve the issues plaguing mobile. The solutions, however, were limited, focused on a single outcome rather than the entire marketing puzzle. While they addressed pain points such as ad serving, targeting, measurement and data management individually, the market became flooded with solutions, resulting in new problems like fragmentation, breakages, inefficiencies and increased costs.

There are parallels to the auto industry, which saw a surfeit of manufacturers in its early days. Between 1900 and 1909, the number of worldwide auto manufacturers fell from nearly 500 to 253. By 1929 there were only 44, with 80% of output coming from Ford, Chrysler and GM. The strong manufacturers survived by consolidating various parts of the supply chain under one roof, increasing efficiency, lowering costs and delivering products that performed during an era where these abilities were paramount.

Ad tech is crowded and cannot sustain the amount of competition and the resulting inefficiency of its numerous players for much longer. Marketers and publishers, enticed by the promise of high-impact formats like video and mobile, are confused about where to go to drive growth and improve their own efficiency. They are ready for ad tech’s Model Ts: workhorse solutions that simplify and streamline, moving the market from point A to B more efficiently and effectively.

Their quest is pushing digital advertising forward, and leads to the promise of the illusive single stack. Instead of using a series of disparate mobile, video, social, display, rich media, native, data and brand safety technologies, advertisers and publishers are recognizing the need for a single source for all their media buying and selling needs, addressing transparency, attribution and viewability.

Standardization is driving the innovation needed for single-stack solutions, and major industry players are building these stacks through strategic tech acquisitions and partnerships. The industry consolidation we saw in 2014 and the first half of 2015 will further accelerate in the coming years.

Quality concerns will remain in focus, especially in video, mobile, and emerging markets. Technologies will put more pressure than ever on rooting out fraudulent inventory and those who fuel it. And with a firm grasp on how consumers convert, marketers and publishers will benefit far more than they do in the current last-ad-seen attribution model. Advertisers will allocate spend where it’s most successful, providing more cost effective results.

Ultimately, we’re all driving toward increased performance, simplicity and efficiency. And as attribution, transparency and standardization take center stage, single-stack solutions are becoming more inevitable. With them, advertisers will see better returns, which is good news for publishers and innovative ad-tech companies alike. Maybe there really is that Model T in ad tech’s future.

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