Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Empowering marketers in 2019: The year of execution

By Ben Humphry, Chief Strategy Officer at iotec

The past year in digital media was all about planning, and now, in 2019, it’s time to set those plans in motion.

Last year saw an array of both challenges and opportunities come to light, causing ripples of change across the industry – and this year, marketers need to push for more of the same.

From new regulations and policies to new, hybrid competitors, 2019 is the year marketers need to implement the chances they glimpsed last year.

1.   Customer data is the new oil

Utilising a brand’s own customer data has traditionally sat within the “marketing” function, as opposed to the “advertising” one, and a brand having a marketing relationship with its audience has generally been viewed as a positive. New regulations introduced in 2018, however, have further reframed the benefits of “martech”, which is now fusing with“ adtech”.

This year, this emphasis on customer data management will bring greater attention on Customer Data Platform (CDP) software. Brands which may have already implemented a Data Management Platform (DMP) strategy are going to need to reevaluate the way in which they use and integrate marketing and advertising data in order to comply with new privacy regulations going forward.

2.   The ongoing implications of GDPR

Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation caused carnage within the digital ad ecosystem. Major publishers like The New York Times ceasing programmatic trading in Europe, and others such as Hearst’s newspapers going so far as to end all publication in the EU because of the limits imposed on processing audience data, which caused shrinkage in programmatic inventory supply.

GDPR was not a one off, however – it was the beginning of a process which will be felt even more keenly throughout 2019. With adtech vendors like Tapad and Drawbridge withdrawing from a Europe that has become increasingly hostile to identity processing, alongside the elimination of third-party dataset processing by Facebook and Google DoubleClick, many marketers have found themselves needing to fill a supplier gap, or withdraw themselves.

3.   Amazon joins the advertising ranks

2018 was the year that Amazon emerged as a significant advertising player, and as a result, brands need to start building out an “Amazon strategy”.

If agencies have been calling out for a third party to the Google / Facebook duopoly, they’ve certainly got it. By last October, Amazon’s “other” earnings, mostly ad sales, was worth a cool $2.5 billion. This new addition, however, should be scrutinised as closely as all of the other players.

Marketers will need to assess the opportunities Amazon offers from its customer insight and familiarise themselves with its technology ecosystem to fully understand its ad offerings.

4.   Machine learning levels up

While programmatic was hailed for a long time as “smart advertising”, machine learning (ML) is fast overtaking it. Put simply, ML algorithms analyse historical data to find patterns, which are then used to inform future decisions. When applied to advertising, this means that code can use historical convergence patterns in order to select the best audience or inventory for a campaign. ML can continually improve and re-optimise these insights, continually boosting effectiveness.

When buyers are faced with selecting and implementing ML, the technology’s complexity can double-down. Thanks to training on big datasets, ML effectiveness got refined last year. Some advertisers may need to look beyond one-size-fits-all solutions and delve deeper into the fundamentals of data science to understand the how the technology can best be applied to their business.

5.   Consolidation calls for a supplier review

2019’s multiple mergers of high-profile media and telco companies has rocked the ad industry boat, and it’s not over yet.

AT&T’s acquisition of programmatic marketplace AppNexus means that environment which previously billed itself as the “independent” challenger is now part of a larger group which has also bought out publishers like CNN, Turner and HBO. The re-integration of Oath in to Verizon Media Group continues the major consolidation of the former Oath’s Yahoo, AOL and the procession of ad-tech suppliers.

All of these big names are now looking to buy up their own adtech arsenal, and as they do, suppliers that advertisers depend on can change strategy overnight, forcing them to reconsider their alliances and build new relationships.