Last week I visited New York City for the 2017 AdExchanger Industry Preview, an annual event that focuses on marketing technology trends and ideas for the coming year. This year’s Industry Preview marked the third anniversary of the conference and offered an interesting look at how brands, agencies, and publishers were all tackling data deployment, ad delivery, and more.
Though the panels and keynotes covered different aspects of where marketing technology is going, there were similar trends woven through many of them. For those who couldn’t attend, here are a few key takeaways from the 2017 AdExchanger Industry Preview:
Native will be the New Face of Programmatic
In his session “Native Programmatic Comes of Age”, Ari Lewine, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Triple-Lift, stated that native advertising in 2017 will be a marketing tactic — not a new bucket.
In other words, native isn’t just going to be another box to check off next to banner display, mobile, or video. It can go beyond funnels or devices and offer consumers an experience that Ad Tech currently can’t: digital marketing that doesn’t jolt someone out of their regular browsing. Patrick Keane, President of Sharethrough, went as far as declaring native to be the only viable solution for mobile advertising, where a single native ad has the same power as 300 banner impressions.
Of course, as Sharethrough is a developer of native ad software, these statements need to be taken with a grain of salt. However, the idea that a native ad offers more effective engagement is worth discussing. Development of dynamically-assembled programmatic native advertising will contribute to this idea of a natural ad environment — native ads that can change to fit the format of any necessary publisher. The missing piece, as Lewine notes, is DSP integration. Melding the requirements of different platforms will be the roadblock for native programmatic development.
Header Bidding Offers the Best of Most Worlds
“We’ve all benefited from loosely coupling our technologies together to create powerful chains of capabilities. But we’ve failed at figuring out how these things work together, and how they don’t line up. And when it takes nine calls to nine vendors and seven seconds to start an ad – that’s why people put ad blockers on.”
– Seth Demsey, Chief Technology Officer at AOL Platforms in his panel “Managing the Data”
Simplifying the ad bidding and delivery process has been at the forefront of a lot of discussion in the past few years, with most of it converging around header bidding.
The current waterfall bidding model poses problems for publishers and consumers alike; publishers feel as though they aren’t receiving the real value of their ad space, and consumers deal with varying ad rendering times depending on the number of ad servers that a publisher has to contact before a page loads.
Header bidding flattens this process for all parties, providing optimized ad value for publishers and, at the very least, consistent latency times for consumers; the debate continues on whether page load times increase or decrease under header bidding auctions.
The benefits to publishers, in particular, were highlighted by Criteo CEO Eric Eichmann and LUMA Partner Brian Anderson in their respective sessions. With header bidding offering such impressive growth potential, Anderson additionally floated the possibility that two header-demand players — AppNexus and Amazon — could put a crack in the digital duopoly that continues in the marketplace by Google and Facebook.
Mar Tech and Ad Tech Need to Keep Their Focus on the Consumer
Mark Zagorski, EVP of Nielsen Marketing Cloud, offered an interesting comparison in his session “Marketing at the Speed of Now”: In 1970, consumers saw around 300 ads per day. In 2016, they saw 5,000.
The idea of streamlining the consumer experience ran through every session at the Industry Preview. This makes sense. Consumers are dealing with more marketing engagements than ever before, and they could quickly grow tired of it. As the “Managing the Data” panel noted, consumers cherish authenticity, and the consumer experience is key. Every one of those 5,000 ads impacts a consumer’s perception of a brand. If a consumer feels misidentified or annoyed about the ad delivery experience, that’s an Ad Tech problem.
A part of this is keeping the brand experience in mind. Dina Gowar, Director of Strategy and Operations at Dell, explained that brands see tech as a way to enhance their customer’s experiences — not make it more complicated for everyone involved. Gowar is interested in tech developments that are easy to scale and easy to understand.
As MediaMath CMO Joanna O’Connel stated, “Cookies are flawed.” A large portion of the current advertising infrastructure is built around cookies, and it’s the root of more and more problems as the industry develops. At a time when many are calling for marketers to view consumers as an audience buy — not a channel, device, or media buy — cookies remain device-specific and difficult to track. Joe Stanhope, CP and Principal Analyst at Forrester, said “Consumers don’t care about channels. All they see is an experience with your brand.”
AI will Impact Current Marketing Technology and Create Some Too
Artificial Intelligence has been a buzzworthy term for decades, but it’s finally having a real impact on marketing technology. As Rik van der Kooi, CVP of Advertising Sales at Microsoft, said in his session “Windows on the Future”, “The world of conversational commerce is upon us.” One of the key areas where AI can supplement is search. The application of voice search in personal assistant bots — such as Amazon’s Alexa — brings another dimension to digital search advertising. Voice-activated search results and search advertising moves AI from fringe marketing applications to the center.
It was suggested that conversational commerce holds more potential than simple search, but time will tell. Voice-activated screen-less advertising is a field that is yet to be explored, with new systems for programmatic bidding and creative content to be developed.
Semcasting has been an industry leader in audience building, onboarding, and qualification since 2009. We built our own robust database of consumers and businesses, supported by a patented predictive modeling technology. Our IP onboarding and qualification technology — Smart Zones — is backed by an initial patent granted in 2014 and a continuation patent granted in 2016 for device analytics and attribution in support of the Internet of Things. Semcasting’s Smart Zones technology is unique in that it allows for far more granular onboarding and targeting when compared to other IP-Geo services — being several thousand times more accurate than a zip-code on average.