How long ago January 2020 seems – and yet how quickly we find ourselves here, 12 short months later.
It was around this time last year when Google made its seismic announcement that it would be phasing out support for the third-party tracking cookie on its market-leading Chrome browser.
Apple and Firefox had already made headway in this area, banning third-party cookies by default, meaning that publishers, advertisers, agencies and everyone in between were already plotting alternative strategies – but while Chrome was still in the game, the going was still good enough. Budgets shifted and the status quo pretty much continued.
Now, though, there is a definite line in the sand – no third-party cookies from this time next year. Change was now a given and the programmatic ecosystem would have to evolve, quickly.
And then came the Coronavirus. Every aspect of life turned upside-down, with communications (mostly digital) on the frontline: companies given the permissions to make wholesale changes to their marketing strategies in order to serve and survive.
A perfect storm to evoke change for the better.
It’s one of the reasons why we have launched themed months across New Digital Age – the chance to explore how marketing, media and digital is accelerating as a result of the pandemic, but also to drill down into the opportunities ahead as we seek to rebuild. Our first, in November, explored how gaming as a media channel is becoming mainstream and why advertisers are seeking to redress the balance between the scant ad dollars spent against consumer appetite.
And last month, we discovered why programmatic is overdue a renaissance despite (or more likely because of) those disappearing cookies. With a swing towards first-party data, collaboration and a privacy-first approach you could argue that digital advertising is returning to marketing basics, to real people and their wants and needs, but supercharged by new tools and technology.
We brought together some of the industry’s top thinkers to discuss programmatic’s future in a roundtable debate and consensus was clear: programmatic, hooked on low prices, shortcuts and undemanding but often meaningless metrics, had perhaps lost its way.
Yet the promise of programmatic is real. Across the month we have heard from practitioners across the ecosystem about the opportunities ahead. And we will be publishing three pieces from that roundtable that illustrates just where we are as an industry and what next to expect in the year ahead.
Which brings us on to January, and 2021: our Mobile Month. The mobile is our most personal device, a bridge between the real, digital and virtual worlds. It is already the favoured way for most of us to access the internet and is being leveraged as a valuable tool in the race to open up the world again, for governments, advertisers, publishers and consumers alike.
These are desperate times, but exciting times. As an industry we should take stock at all we have achieved over the past 12 months and sally forth. We have often talked of the need to change, but rarely gone far beyond the words themselves. That’s all changed now: from inertia to action.
Resilience, innovation and creativity will define 2021’s success stories.
Happy New Year!