Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Why quality must come first in 2022

By Justin Taylor, Managing Director, UK at Teads

It’s been a busy start to 2022, but there is still time to look back and take stock of the events of last year. For the digital advertising industry, there were monumental changes in 2021 that may well last for years to come; updates in regulation, news scandals, platform changes, and consumer outrage all took centre stage at one point throughout the year.

Due to the various lockdowns and restrictions, we also witnessed a massive shift in consumer habits, which are likely to stick as some uncertainty still lingers. This has made even the most traditional brick and mortar retailers turn to ecommerce as consumers turn to online purchases. 

When we look back on why and how things have changed, there is a clear pattern that starts to emerge. Shifts in consumer demand coupled with how advertisers – plus their buy and sell-side partners – are changing, all stem from a greater focus on quality.

We also saw consumers demanding – with their voices and their wallets – a more ethical approach to brand purpose. By doing so they pushed businesses to choose a side on social matters. There were some businesses that thought this was just a flash in the pan – but they were mistaken. Now the ask is not just for brands to have an authentic voice, but to take more consideration on the impact they have on the world. Customers are increasingly asking for ethically sourced and sustainable products, and in doing so are looking to buy from companies that are doing something about the impact they have on the planet.

Data changes

The industry also reached a huge turning point when it came to data ethics. Consumers have become more aware of their digital footprint and the way their personal information is being used. The response from big tech was most notable when Apple made a significant amount of noise about its plan to improve user privacy. Elsewhere, Google moved the goalposts on the deadline for third-party cookies, which has caused a debate across the ecosystem as companies work towards a viable alternative. This has possibly brought a welcome pause for some in the industry to allow them to test and make improvements to the way they use data (although those who do not use this time effectively will find themselves left behind).

When turning the attention to quality, brands will need to look at all areas of their business, not just the supply chain. Accountability for a responsible and efficient supply chain is no longer just the concern of the media agency, but has reached the brands and up into the boardroom. The C-Suite now wants to know where ads are being placed to understand where there are drops in efficiency and where the brand could be at risk.

Social responsibility, brand safety, funding quality journalism, respect for the user, and sustainable data practices leave brands with a massive list of decisions. Marketers need to take all of this into consideration when thinking about where their media is spent, how it is delivered and what effect – directly and indirectly – it will have on the brand.

More education is needed, and there are some critical gains to be had. We’ve found that SPO (Supply Path Optimisation) has many benefits that go far beyond media effectiveness, including energy consumption and an improvement in environmental impact.

Moving metrics

Another trend we’ve witnessed is the shift towards better quality media metrics, with work on the Attention Economy having come a long way in such a short amount of time. For marketers, the ability to better quantify the impact their ad spend is having on consumers is a huge step in the right direction. Yet it is still early days and there is a lot more to be understood, particularly if there is a measurable link between attention and attribution.

I’ve only just touched upon some of the biggest challenges the media ecosystem is currently tackling. However, they all have one thing that connects them – every part of digital marketing is being put through the wringer, and rightly so.  

The fallout has meant standards are being raised at every step on the consumer journey. This is a fantastic trend that we are seeing across our advertiser, agency, and publisher partners. There is massive room for growth and progress in 2022, and those that are willing to take on the challenge and prioritise quality will only rise to the top.

*Teads is a client of Bluestripe Communications, owned by Bluestripe Group, the owner of NDA.