Commentary

Oath's President Of Ad Strategy, Publishing Predicts Major Changes In 2018

For Tim Mahlman, president of advertising and publisher strategy at Oath, the focus for 2018 centers on ads.txt, programmatic transparency, video ad measurement, and more.

It’s time to rethink mobile ad engagement

We know that the average U.S. consumer spends a total of 5 hours a day on mobile devices. So why hasn’t innovation on the mobile advertising and content experience followed these usage trends? Traditional display ads just don't play in a mobile environment, and ad blocking is a good indication of how consumers feel about the content. Mobile is the most important screen for global audiences, which should make it the most coveted real estate for brands and a place for innovation. Are we ready for a real shakeup in the mobile ad format space? Get ready for publishers to introduce new ad formats that actually improve the consumer experience and boost engagement as a result. We'll see a heavy focus on transforming mobile native and video ads this year. It’s about time.

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Programmatic will be more well-lit
Programmatic spend has grown more than 72% over the past three years, and is now the backbone of digital advertising. It gives buyers smarter, data-driven transactions at scale. But some advertisers are concerned about transparency challenges in the programmatic ecosystem, and recent issues have weakened trust.

Still, four out of every five dollars spent in digital display are transacted programmatically today. Advertisers are cautious about brand safety, but they are also mindful of the unique value that programmatic provides. We’re also seeing programmatic marketplaces and DSPs evolve to bring together the benefits of automation with increased quality controls such as blacklists and whitelists, as well as transparency with well-lit auctions and improved attribution. These gains will continue in 2018.

Publishers will get on board with ads.txt in 2018 
Just a few months ago, the IAB launched ads.txt to bring more transparency to the programmatic supply chain. This is a more secure way for publishers to publicly identify the platforms authorized to sell their inventory, helping to limit bad actors. The idea is that as more publishers adopt ads.txt and post it to their domains, advertisers can avoid counterfeit inventory and have more confidence in what they buy.

In 2018, ads.txt adoption will explode among publishers. It’s still relatively low right now. But advertisers are increasingly demanding more tools for transparency. They want an accurate representation of media impressions and who is selling them. And they want to safeguard against counterfeit inventory through arbitrage and spoofing. Ads.txt helps. Oath has supported ads.txt from the beginning and has already implemented it across many of its properties, with plans to complete across all its sites. Oath is also collaborating with publishers and approved resellers, and will begin enforcing ads.txt across its platforms and filtering inventory on domains where DSPs buy. 

Video will change the measurement status quo
Agencies, vendors and publishers are finally beginning to embrace more advanced measurement techniques to provide advertisers with more context around performance. Expect that trend to continue in 2018. Video's emergence, in particular, has changed the way we measure success. It’s chipping away at traditional, flawed measurement systems. The industry is realizing that it doesn’t make sense to pay attention only to views, for example. Instead, it’s finally beginning to migrate to a performance curve with clearer intelligence on what works and what doesn’t. This fuels more credible insight into ROI and elevates transparency across the board.

The shift away from the strict CPM-focused model -- even if that shift has been slow -- is a good sign for all parties, and will engender more accountability from the ground up.

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