For those who know me, that’s probably not too surprising. I’m an optimist by nature and have been an entrepreneur for more than 20 years. As you would expect, start-ups and pessimism are pretty much mutually exclusive.
Here’s what I’m excited about for 2018:
Advertising will get better. For so many of us, it seems impossible to make ads truly more relevant, placements more effective, campaigns more efficient and ad experiences more delightful. There are so many barriers, so much inertia in the status quo. However, it is getting better. We are all getting smarter. There are small victories every day, and things will get even better next year.
Consolidation in TV means change and innovation in TV advertising will come faster. The TV landscape will be dramatically reshaped before the end of 2018, with planned mergers among AT&T and Time Warner, Discovery and Scripps, Disney and much of Fox, Sinclair and Tribune. Consolidation will bring change. Change brings disruption. Disruption breeds innovation. We will see a lot of innovation in TV, particularly in TV advertising since it’s a key driver of the majority of the new company combinations.
More talent. This consolidation and disruption will not be a pleasant story for everybody. Many jobs will be dislocated in the process, but there is a silver lining. Many very talented people in advertising will come into the market looking for new opportunities. That is great for disrupting companies that are growing. We thrive on talent.
Also, disruption can be great for those talented folks who needed a nudge to jump out and try new things, leveraging their skills and experience in more fulfilling ways.
What I’m worried about for 2018:
Fraud, viewability issues and bots aren’t going away. As long as two companies help 75% of the online ad market and drive 85+% of its growth, the market will seek alternatives, and it will seek them cheap. This means we will keep seeing lots of folks selling the dream of better, simpler, cheaper online ads that perform at twice the ROI of Facebook ads at half the price, with lots of folks buying into that impossible dream. Result: more fraud, viewability problems and more bots. If it seems to good to be true, it is.
Headwinds in the economy. The past seven or eight years have brought pretty steady economic growth to the U.S., and very strong growth to the equity markets. We are probably going to see some buffeting on both fronts — not good for our industry, since advertising tends to suffer the most in times of economic uncertainty.
Little progress in marketers’ transforming their departments from cost centers to profit centers. This issue worries me the most. For the advertising industry to achieve its potential, marketers need to define themselves and their efforts by how much growth they deliver for their corporations, not how cost-effectively they allocate and deploy budgets. Nothing holds us back more than the focus on CPMs rather than ROI.
I’m not certain we’ll see nearly as much progress in this area in 2018 as should. More old-line marketing companies probably need to go out of business before we see real change.
What do you think? What does 2018 hold in store for the advertising industry?