Two thirds of the year have vanished at a faster rate than ever before.
2017 is coming to an end, and everyone in the media and advertising industry are enjoying the remainder of their summer nights, taking the last couple of breaths and sips of their tropical drinks before facing a daunting Q4 with soaring budgets, optimistic revenue targets and immense pressure from clients to make this their best year in the history of mankind. Before everyone (myself included) start stressing out, it makes sense to stop and take a quick look into the crystal ball of 2018, and see what the future might bring to agencies, publishers, ad tech and marketers:
Publishers using their strength to provide authentic brand experiences
The dominance of walled gardens is suffocating the revenue stream of many publishing and media companies, as Zenith estimated the 64% of global ad spend growth between 2012-2016 was captured by Google and Facebook. This makes it difficult for media companies to remain competitive and innovative, especially when digitalization threatens their traditional publishing models. There is a need for publishers to find new revenue streams, and to use their strengths to differentiate themselves. We have seen this with Condé Nast who has lately made interesting strategic acquisitions in a social data and marketing platform (CitizenNet) and Event Technology Platform (Ribyt). I think we will see this trend continue, and see more media companies making strategic acquisition and business decisions to find ways of providing authentic personalized brand experiences through creating great content and empower it with powerful data.
The manifestation and commitment to improve consumer experiences
300x250s and auto-play video ads have been putting food on the table for many families since the first internet ad was bought back in 1994 by AT&T. This has, and still remains, the bread and butter for many publishers, and you will still find countless 300x250s scrolling down the infinite sections of Mashable.com.
Everyone knows and recognizes that it has become to cluttered, and it severely depreciates the consumer experience when browsing content online. With Coalition for Better Ads ambition to establish a better standard for online advertising, and Google’s latest commitment to support this coalition to build a better web for everyone, the most important players in the ecosystem representing agencies, advertisers and publishers are all committed to implement change. This should start to manifest itself seriously throughout 2018.
The death of unintentional agency silos created by specialization
As media and advertising has transformed into becoming more data-driven at a hyper growth rate in the past five years, it has been necessary for agencies to quickly build and establish highly skilled specialist functions to service all types of media buying; from search and social to programmatic display and video. This has created unintentional silos over time, as each specialist function has been focused on their own little walled garden in terms of planning, optimization and measurement. With the increased accountability being put on agencies to prove how they deliver on tangible business results, and technology becoming a commodity that everyone has the same access to, it is becoming even more important to deliver integrated solutions to clients and brands. Pitch decks with divider slides sectioning out the search strategy, social strategy and finally the ‘programmatic’ strategy will become extinct. As the majority of businesses move to more intelligent and dynamic zero-based budgeting (ZBB) models, agencies will need integrated teams to strategize, implement and optimize media across audiences, formats, screens and inventory to most effectively deliver on client business goals and objectives. Agencies will adapt to this, and job descriptions will start to become much more hybrid and diverse in 2018.
The hype around Programmatic will taper off
Programmatic has for long been glorified as something very distinct and unique in terms of media buying, but it is simply just another way of transacting media, and the currency has remained the same since it became a term = online ads. The ecosystem has overgrown with technology that enables media buying automation, and it is now seen as a normal commodity that everyone has the same access to, rather than a distinct component of one’s marketing- and media services. Whether we are talking about search, social or traditional display ads, clients will expect and assume it is automated and based on data-driven decisioning. This will happen gradually globally, depending on the maturation of the market, and should increasingly demonstrate itself across US and Europe, more slowly making its presence in Southeast Asia and China.
To some these predictions might seem a bit apparent, obvious or straight-up boring, but I personally don’t think 2018 will be the year of something extraordinary. Merely, I believe it will become a year where we stop and take a breath, improving the overall quality of the existing marketplace, setting ourselves up for future success and longevity by fixing the basics and fundamentals of the entire ecosystem before taking the next leap.