A Year Of Ad Tech In Review

According to author Xavi Beumala, CEO and co-founder Marfeel, it has been a year of drastic change for the online publishing and ad tech industries and we are bracing for even more changes before 2018 comes to a close. There has been an inordinate rush to adopt and implement significant business changes

More than any other year in recent memory, says the author, 2018 has really tested the business models of all publishers. It’s only logical to understand that another year like this, where the gatekeepers of digital publishing suddenly, and significantly, change the rules of the game, would be problematic. 

iI’s hard to quibble with the stated goals of these initiatives, says the report. So much has been forced on the industry. It’s been shake-up after shake-up with publishers and ad tech scrambling to comply in order to keep their heads above water.  

Here's a recap of some of the major changes that have happened affecting the industry, says the report. The challenge for publishers of all sizes is that they have been burdened with the responsibility of implementing these technical changes or suffer the consequences, which in most cases meant significant losses in ad revenue. 

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A brief summary of activities shows that:

  • Ads.txt – October 2017: The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) launched ads.txt (authorized digital sellers) to reduce domain spoofing and arbitrage inventory in the open marketplace. From mid-October 2017, Google and other buyers stopped buying inventory on sites that didn’t have or include all correct providers on their ads.txt.
  • Facebook News Feed algorithm change – January 2018: In response to backlash from critics in regards to facilitating misinformation from foreign entities in connection with the most recent U.S. presidential election, Facebook changed its news feed algorithms to de-prioritize posts shared by businesses and media outlets. 
  • Better Ads Standards – February 2018: In order to combat consumer frustration with online ads that disrupt their experience, interrupt content and slow browsing, the Coalition for Better Ads was formed to develop and implement new global standards for online advertising. 
  • GDPR compliance – May 2018: The ambiguity of this law forced publishers to rush and develop, deploy or utilize third-party consent mechanisms, like CMPs (Consent Management Platforms), to ensure GDPR compliance. Ad techs still need to provide publisher’s with programmatic ad revenue to help keep them in business, says the report.
  • HTTPS Adoption – July 2018: Google Chrome unleashed what amounted to a cattle-prod to force publishers to upgrade from unencrypted websites. This became a big headache very quickly for those sites that haven’t obtained new HTTPS certs from other authorities.: Google speed update – July 2018
  • Google decided to make fast page loads a new factor in search rankings for mobile sites, with slower sites sinking lower in search results. While it’s readily acknowledged that page loading speed has undeniable benefits, says the report, it basically represented another “can’t ignore edict” that forced publishers to quickly make some hard decisions about their infrastructure.: Google’s stealth algorithm update – August 2018
  • What was called a “broad core” algorithm update was the most recent curveball thrown at the ad tech industry by Google, catching many publishers by surprise. These are sites with a lot of health, medical, diet, nutrition, financial stability, or happiness content.

Beumala concludes by noting that everyone understands change is a constant in the business world. The only conclusion you can draw right now, looking at the big picture, is that it’s complicated. But such a relentless influx of change, combined with the knowledge that more is coming, increases the threat that the business models of professional digital publishers become harder to execute.


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