Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

The Forecast: Digital Media & Marketing 2020 predictions

New Digital Age has partnered with Katzy Communications and The Advisory Collective on a research project, The Forecast: Digital Media & Marketing 2020, to discover predictions for digital media and marketing in 2020. Our panel of 23 senior stakeholders was as representative a sample as possible of both our industry (coming from media owner, agency, client, regulator, tech and consultancy background) as well as our society (in terms of gender, age and ethnicity). 

Contributors to this report, with the full list below, included Lara Izlan, ITV; Phil Livingstone, The Body Shop; Leonardo Oliveira, Vodafone; Jules Kendrick, JICWEBS; and Karen Eccles, The Telegraph.

In part one of this report, we focus on bigger-picture trends within our industry; in part two, we will look at the impact of Brexit and how consumer habits might change this year; and in part three, we take a longer-term look at the impact of the crumbling cookie and further changes in the interplay between agency, advertiser and media owner. 

Part 1 2020 Industry Trends

Respondents were asked firstly to talk about what they thought the biggest trends were looking likely to be in 2020.

The biggest trend, mentioned by 11 of our respondents, was that the use of data in digital advertising — whether first, second or third party — would be the biggest topic this year. This was followed by the need to work on attribution. However, brand purpose or social conscience was rated as equally important.  Inhousing and the need for robust regulation were also cited as important trends. 

When referring to data, Phil Livingstone, Global Digital Marketing Director, The Body Shop’s comments are reflective of the general mood: “Concerns around data and privacy will continue — unfortunately.” Although interestingly, and uniquely, Amy Kean, Head of Strategic Innovation, Global Clients, Starcom reflects that “smart brands should be reducing the amount of data they collect.”

As Karen Eccles, Director Commercial Innovation, The Telegraph, points out “Adtech vendors reliant on third-party cookies will reinvent themselves or disappear”; and furthermore, she believes that “consumers are taking more control over their own data, forcing the advertising industry to accept that it is no longer OK to trade on data without people understanding how it was collected”.

Dino Myers Lamptey, Founder, The Barber Shop adds: “The move from data distraction to data action is key – the rightful challenge of meaningless media metrics which is leading to the fall and withdrawal from DMPs. From these ashes rises the pursuit of first-party data to create meaningful CMPs which can start to be used to better understand the effectiveness of marketing.”

A key theme across all our respondents in fact was the importance of continuing the move away from CTR to find a way to connect ROI across an increasing array of digital channels. As Seun Odeneye, MD UK & Ireland, Cadreon, says, ‘The best thing to come out of this ‘post-cookie world’ debate is that clients, agencies and key partners are discussing other ways of looking at attribution”.  He continues, “The industry needs to be more thoughtful when identifying what metrics we should be looking at as key performance indicators. We’ll continue to see momentum in this area in 2020.”

The rise of brand purpose

In the words of Nene Harrison, Founder, Eley Consulting, “brand Purpose will become increasingly important in 2020. As changing political and social forces demand a point of view, we’ll see behavioural shifts from brands that were previously happy to remain agnostic.”

Good-Loop Founder Amy William agrees here,  saying “In 2019, Pinterest posts featuring ‘climate change protest signs’ grew +5961%. Yep, we are now five thousand per cent more vocal about our social and environmental values – fuelling the rise of ‘cancel culture’ as consumers are increasingly empowered to call out brands they disagree with”.

Finally, with regards to trends in 2020, it is worth considering the viewpoint expressed by Jenny Stanley, MD, Appetite Creative “As cookies and targeting squeeze media, it will be interesting to see the pendulum swing back to creativity and creative tech”.

When our respondents were asked what their greatest concern, were and what might need to happen for these concerns to be overcome or avoided, we had far greater consensus.

A question of trust

Chief among the concerns expressed, unfortunately, was the issue of building trust in the industry, via regulation, which was mentioned by seven people.  Who better to clarify where we are on that than Jules Kendrick, Chief Executive, JICWEBS:

“With 60% of UK ad spend dedicated to digital, the proliferation of inappropriate content, fake news and ad fraud is a major concern. In spite of the fact that JICWEBS certifications across all the stakeholder groups have increased greatly, and even with the UK being a world-leader in creating brand safety standards and anti-fraud practices, there is still a real danger that the government could legislate in this area.  It is our job as an industry to prove that we can self-regulate effectively.” 

Aside from concerns about trust and regulation, respondents were concerned by the increase in the concentration of power that the walled gardens might have in light of macro-level changes to the industry. 

 ID5s Morwenna Beales: “Google’s third-party cookies in Chrome announcement creates a real threat for the open digital advertising market. There is a real risk that advertisers invest an even bigger share of their digital advertising budgets with the walled gardens.”

Fleur Bennett, Senior Director, Strategic Accounts EMEA, also points out that as the market was ever evolving, “the supply side needs to be more nimble. Publishers need to create a first-party data strategy to entice brands and move beyond the third party cookie. The speed that TV is converging with digital is exciting, but it also will require media companies to pivot very quickly.

It isn’t about something that might happen in the future, it’s happening now.”

There was also a reasonable level of concern around how data is being used by advertisers.  Tim Hussain of Ebiquity summarises this concern, shared by other respondents: “Advertisers are still not measuring the performance of their marketing investments thoroughly enough and relying on their partners to tell them how they did; advertisers are still measuring media performance in silos without considering the interplay of what is really driving performance”.

Evolution the key to survival

In answer to the question ‘What type of business should be worried, and why?’ We had five different answers — two of which were articulated in slightly different ways by 12 of the panellists.  Eight of those were keen to point out that standing still was not an option, that businesses need to adapt to the changing reality, and another four were keen to point out that brands that didn’t have their own data and were reliant on third parties were likely to be in a tough spot in 2020. 

Regarding the latter, Leonardo Oliveira, Senior Gobal Brand & Media Manager, Vodafone comments that “advertisers that don’t have first-party data will struggle’, and Tim Hussain said “any business which makes money by relying on audience data-led services which don’t own the first-party relationship  – programmatic providers, DMPs, etc – will be in trouble”. 

Bennett pointed out that “The name of the game in the next year will be flexibility and efficiency. Companies that can move with the market and innovate ahead of the market will win. We’re seeing interest in so many new channels from OTT to audio to innovative commerce channels.”

Yasser Hussain from Exit Bee put it most succinctly — “If you add value, you will survive and thrive.  Quality wins, hence the success of companies like The Trade Desk and The Economist”.

The penultimate question of section 1 asked our panel to consider what positives they are hopeful for from our industry in 2020 — whether by sector, consumer or industry as a whole.

Better metrics and attribution were the top wishes for three of our respondents, as was the concept that in 2020, we might start to re-evaluate media, with quality inventory being valued more highly once more. 

With regards to metrics and attribution, and re-evaluation of media, Dino Myers-Lamptey covers both in his response; “2020 should be the ‘big remeasurement’ — when we strive for universal metrics that finally bridge the divides between long form ‘broadcaster’ video, and short form ’social’ video. 

Tbe promise of programmatic

The ICO and GDPR will be good for consumers and will increase the emphasis on first-party data and contextual targeting, decreasing assumptions about what the data means, and increasing the advantage for those who understand the consumer journeys.” 

In addition, Anna Forbes, UK GM, The Trade Desk says that the quality of advertising technology will have a positive impact for the consumer: ‘Advertising is set to get better and better for advertisers and consumers alike in 2020. The combination of smarter tech and better insights means it’s easier than ever for marketers to reach their target audiences in prime environments.

For consumers, thanks to the power of programmatic, advertising content is more relevant and less intrusive than ever before’ — so perhaps, at last, the promise of programmatic to deliver fewer, but better, ad spots, might start to be realised in 2020.”

The final question in section 1, which closes part one of our report, asked respondents ‘Who will succeed this year?  What business would you build an ethical display advertising platform. 

Rob Webster of Canton suggests that such a platform should incorporate privacy by design, and, keeping the concept of programmatic, should move away from RTB, based on first-party data for ease of privacy compliance and control. 

On a related but completely different idea, Nene from Eley Consulting suggested that a consumer-facing super-streaming service might be a successful endeavour. By the end of 2020, users overwhelmed by choice will be crying out for a single-source streaming platform with a consistent UI and highly intelligent recommendation engine. “I’d build an aggregator platform specialising in OTT services, creating a secondary market for one day or season passes,” she says.

In part two of our findings, we will look at the impact of Brexit and the Cookiepocalypse. 

Survey Respondents

Lara Izlan, Director of Advertising Data & analytics, ITV; Phil Livingstone, Global Digital Marketing Director, The Body Shop; Leonardo Oliveira, Senior Gobal Brand & Media Manager, Vodafone; Jules Kendrick, Chief Executive, JICWEBS; Karen Eccles, Director Commercial Innovation, The Telegraph; Rob Webster, Founder, Canton Marketing Solutions; Dino Myers Lamptey, Founder, The Barber Shop; Nene Harrison, Founder, Eley Consulting; Juliet McCutcheon, Sales Director, Channel Factory; Paul Frampton, President Europe, Control v Exposed; Tim Hussain, Global Managing Principal, Ebiquity; Yasser Hussain, UK Country Manager, Exit Bee; Jenny Stanley, MD, Appetite Creative; Amy Williams, Founder, Good-Loop; Anna Forbes, UK General Manager, The Trade Desk; Gavin Stirrat, VP Europe Partner Services, OpenX; Amy Kean, Head of Strategic Innovation, Global Clients, StarcomAnonymous, General Manager, global mobile app analysis company; Morwenna Beales, VP Key Accounts, ID5; Seun Odeneye, Managing Director UK & Ireland, Cadreon; Louise Nylander, Global Marketing Director, Unruly; Maria Cadbury, Founder, We Are Spring; and Fleur Bennett, Senior Director, Strategic Accounts EMEA,