Analyst Refines Outlook, Says Digital Is Having A Moment: 'Not A Good One'

Wall Street analyst Brian Wieser has refined his estimate for U.S. ad growth this year, projecting that 2017 will expand 4.4%.

The revision is still in the “4% to 5%” expansion range Wieser published in “key challenges” for digital and advertising, which represent the bulk of the marketplace.

“Advertising is facing challenges on many fronts, especially within the two largest media, digital and television,” Wieser explains, noting the Big 2 media categories are suffering votes of confidence from marketers for different reasons.

“Digital advertising is having a moment, and not a good one,” Wieser explains. “Beyond ad quality issues, we have concerns that marketers will concern themselves more with the basic trustworthiness of media owners and the capacity to use personal data going forward, as well as the underlying effectiveness of digital media more generally.

"Ad quality issues of viewability, brand safety, fraud and bots are problematic, of course, but ultimately seem relatively manageable for marketers vs. the latter group of problems.

“Facebook’s recently publicized issues around mismatches between audience data provided for planning purposes vs. data from global census bureaus and its initial inability to find ads from Russian propagandists follow on several other incidents over the past year, all of which compromise claims Facebook makes to marketers.

"This has tangible implications. A significant share of spending on advertising occurs simply because it is perceived to be effective, or because tools used to assess spending effectiveness are really used to justify a choice or refine preexisting budgets. Whether a collection of media and creative choices are actually the most effective is a subjective question, even in a world awash with data, which is why marketer trust matters.”

Wieser’s report goes on to cite concerns of marketers ranging from Procter & Gamble to Uber to Restoration Hardware.

“P&G eliminated $140 million in digital advertising in the second quarter. As conveyed in a lawsuit with one of its advertising agencies, Uber eliminated spending on app installs earlier this year. Restoration Hardware eliminated most of the keywords it was buying from search engines,” Wieser notes. “In each instance, each company indicated there was no negative business impact [from the changes.]”

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