Advertisers Must Change With Times Or Fall Behind

“A body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it, and a body in motion at a constant velocity will remain in motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an outside force.”

Newton’s First Law of Motion, aka the “law of inertia,” while more than 400 years old, is applicable to today’s marketing, advertising and media industries.

Content from the recent raft of industry conferences reinforces the notion that any organization or executive that isn’t consciously changing is at risk. Consider these topics that received attention:

  • Data. Companies must address tech gaps and evolve their infrastructure and staff to analyze data effectively and capitalize on the resulting insights.
  • Programmatic growth. The need to enhance efficiency will foster programmatic expansion in both digital and non-digital marketplaces, affecting metrics, costs and staffing.
  • Higher standards: The ANA’s Media Transparency Report, which tackled fraud and transparency concerns, was discussed at multiple conferences –  and behind closed doors.
  • Potential of AI, AR and VR. The appeal of new offerings such as Alexa and Pokemon Go indicate that these technologies will gain traction in consumers’ lives and marketers’ budgets.
  • Changes in video consumption: Increased penetration of “cord nevers,” “cord cutters,” OTT viewing and mobile streaming will shape how marketers and media companies purchase video advertising and sponsorship.
  • Rise of ad blockers: Consumers’ concern about annoying ads and data collection is spurring increased use of ad blockers – and native advertising.

The trajectory of these trends is subject to debate. But there is a bigger question than the path of change: the rate of change. Will advertising and media companies take the steps necessary to address the new realities? Evidence suggests that many will drag their heels, putting them at risk of falling behind.

The existence of questionable environments in the media ecosystem is not news. However, surprisingly few advertisers have made the tough decision to pay for more desirable contexts by regularly monitoring where their ads appear or stomaching the higher CPMs that accompany higher quality sites.

One example: a recent New York Times op-ed piece stated that many advertisers profess ignorance that their ads have appeared in sites violating their policies of avoiding racist environments. A new industry group of tech executives, formed to combat injustice, resorted to sending several advertisers screen shots of their ads surrounded by hateful language to force them to examine their practices.

Why must a third party take on responsibility that should reside with the players who determine and approve media placement?

Managing the ongoing increase in data requires companies to adopt new technologies, hire appropriate talent and address the internal rivalries and silos that hinder capitalizing on data insights. However, several executives at a recent data conference bemoaned that their companies are not moving fast enough to give them a competitive edge or keep up with ever-changing consumers.

Many companies have decided it is too expensive to be an early adopter. That’s understandable. Even so, it is important to experiment in areas ripe for change.

On a positive note, some TV networks are testing new targeting options with lower rated dayparts, Time Inc.’s print programmatic exemplifies exploration in print, and the DPAA is developing programmatic standards for digital out of home. But many more organizations equivocate rather than move forward.

Which brings us back to Isaac Newton. Outside forces are acting on our industry. Will your organization have the courage and commitment to encourage change or  – deal with the consequences of wait and see/playing catch-up? Will you rest, resist and rust? Or challenge, change and climb to new heights?

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