4 Predictions For 2016: Centro's Kelly Wenzel Says System Consolidation Is A Must

I spoke with Kelly Wenzel, chief marketing officer of Centro, a digital advertising technology firm that’s on the front lines of marketing technology. Wenzel thinks consolidation of ad tech systems, the arms race for talent, data and customer service are key for 2016:

1. Platform consolidation. Digital advertisers (both agencies or brands) will begin to consolidate their use of systems, tools and external partners. Centro recently surveyed digital media buyers and planners and found that 41% log into four to six software platforms (excluding MS Office and email); 30% use seven or more.

I think 2016 will be the year that the mergers and acquisitions activity we’ve seen in ad tech will finally be felt on the front lines. This trend will accelerate as more advertisers push for unified tools instead of the best-of-breed, feature approach.

Not only do planners and buyers have to log into multiple systems to get their jobs done, but they’re antiquated systems. People are still operating in silos, and you don’t get the holistic view across media channels to get a better view. It’s inefficient and ineffective.

The consolidation needs to offer fewer systems, fewer log-ins and more holistic systems to give a unified view across all platforms. It’s about the impact of the M&A activity being reflected in the tools the people on the front lines are using. We’ll see the beginning of consolidation in 2016.

2 Talent scramble. We’re in an arms race for talent. In our survey of digital media professionals, we found that 43% intend to leave their positions within the next 12 months. Everyone is waging a war for talent: brands, agencies, startups. Opportunities abound, which puts greater pressure on employers to boost employee engagement and happiness.

There’s a staggering cost to people leaving.

[We found] the biggest source of frustration was insufficient tools and resources -- that [people] don’t have the time-saving tools they need to do a good job all in one place.

If you’re looking between at four and 10 systems a day, not including email, PPT, Word, it’s a time suck. Imagine if you could log into a single system of record. You’d have more time for ideation, creative and strategic thinking. When you have higher engagement, you see higher productivity.

3. Commoditization of DSPs. In the same way that the open RTB homogenizes publisher inventory, agencies and advertisers are now commoditizing DSPs. Everyone has one, and they all have access to roughly the same inventory and third-party data sets. 

In open RTB, all impressions are treated equally, and there’s very little value placed on the safe, well-lit publisher vs. the long-tail, shadier sites.

The race to differentiate will largely depend on two factors: access to a very proprietary data set and a superior level of service.

4.Programmatic direct gains momentum.  Programmatic direct gains momentum as the space matures. There are a variety of flavors for doing it: direct-order automation, private exchanges, private marketplaces, and more.

As buyers arm themselves with more ways to access inventory, they will push publishers to put better-quality supply within those channels....There will be high demand for that quality inventory.

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