Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Get your digital house in order for 2022

By Craig Tuck, Chief Revenue Officer, The Ozone Project

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day and, as we launch into another new year, the signs all point to further success for the digital advertising industry at large. Just like Nina Simone sang, some might already be saying “I’m feeling good” as the market awakens post the festive break.

Yet very rarely is this kind of success created overnight. We’re more likely to see sustainable success through well-thought through plans, brilliant execution, all driven by clear and clever strategies that pre-empt the needs of customers. And as we come out of a torrid two years of market uncertainty – arguably in a better shape than many of us may have thought back in early 2020 – it got me thinking about how we can secure the foundations necessary for our industry’s longevity.

Whenever one wants to build, they will need quality foundations – a bedrock that creates both stability and a platform for growth. It’s such a well-founded belief that we often talk of foundations in our arguments, beliefs and even within organisations. Ultimately, they exist to make whatever we do safe, secure and stand the test of time. Can you really build a house without the strongest foundations? Well actually you can, just as long as you don’t need it to stand for very long.

Have we been wise or foolish?

There’s an old children’s song about two men; the wise man who built his house upon the rocks and the foolish man who built his house upon the sand. Centuries ago, dwellings tended to be simple affairs, built around an earth floor, which – not always by design – wasn’t designed to last.

While these buildings may be able to support the downward thrust of its load without a foundation, it’s the sideways motion that creates the problem.  As the ground changes temperature and consistency with the seasons, it expands and contracts, causing instabilities that make the building lurch. In the old kid’s song, this was succinctly summed up when the weather changed:

“The rains came down and the floods came up,

And the house on the sand fell flat”

The reasons mentioned above for collapse and instability could just as easily be applied to programmatic advertising today.  For example, did we really think when the Open Exchange was ‘built’ that it could support the downward force of the gargantuan digital budgets that come with a growing list of load-bearing requirements, such as Brand Safety, Addressability, Transparency, Measurement, Efficiency, Effectiveness and Business Outcomes? Personally, I don’t think many thought much beyond the amount of money they could make from these transactions. If this were a house, it’s simply a roof on top of some paper-thin walls with no real support.

Let’s build a better way

As we take 2022 by the horns, it’s as good a time as ever to enact the change that our advertiser and agency partners are demanding happens within programmatic advertising. The common theme in every customer-facing meeting that I have these days is how do we underpin what appears to be a house with significant subsidence.

At The Ozone Project, we have a preference for quality new builds as opposed to DIY, makeshift renovations. A key part of our role is to provide the tools, expertise and foresight to ensure that any new house is built upon solid foundations. Putting our clients on the strongest footing is the premium, editorially governed content that lies at the heart of our platform, and more importantly its ability to capture the attention of real, identifiable people up and down the country in contexts driven by their passions and interests. Obviously, I would say this about Ozone, but we also believe that this foundation serves every other part of our industry’s ‘building trade’ incredibly well.

It provides the strongest possible base for the bricklayers forming the walls around certain rooms (Curators and Agencies) and the suppliers of beautiful wallpaper and soft furnishings (Format and Creative Specialists). It makes life easier for the plumbers and electricians linking up all of the utilities in the house (Intermediaries, DSPs, SSPs, DMPs) and the home security experts keeping the property safe (think Infosum or Permutive). It ensures the roof builders and window manufacturers (IAS, DV, MOAT) only have to focus on keeping the house wind and water tight. Investing in the right foundations means that the work of all of these ‘trades’ will stand the test of time, and provide a solid standing for future iterations.

Firm foundations for our future

Thinking back to that old children’s song, whatever became of the wise man? Well, when “the rains came down and the floods came up, the house on the rocks stood firm”. The lesson is surely to be more wise man (or woman).

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that there are two types of ‘houses’ in programmatic advertising; the one characterised by the premium display market, built on quality ‘rock-like’ foundations, and that of the open marketplace constructed on the less reliable, shifting sands. If we want to secure the long-term future of our sector, we must do it by building on the most solid foundations – at the end of the day, none of us want to end up face-down in the ground.

For the team at Ozone, we have built a premium display marketplace that is underpinned by quality and scale of audience. With these foundations in place, the welcome mat is now in place for marketers and ad partners to build whatever it is they need to house their digital ambitions for 2022.