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The things that mattered the most in adtech this April

By Zoe Baptie, Account Director,  Bluestripe Communications

Zoe is the resident adtech expert at NDA’s sister company Bluestripe Communications and our monthly columnist rounding up the most important developments in the market each month.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused ripplingly effects across the adtech ecosystem, with news publishers feeling the brunt of the situation. This month Newsworks, the industry representative for UK newspaper publishers, states news brands are set to lose £50m in ad revenue over the next three months, according to The Drum. This is due to keyword blocklists used by some advertisers as brands shy away from appearing alongside content linked to Covid-19. 

Raising awareness of the damaging impact this is having, Newsworks launched the initiative #BackdontBlock, asking advertisers to remove such blocklists from trusted UK news brands so journalism can continue to be funded.

Interestingly, AI media company GumGum released the findings of its study which suggested 62% of all Covid-19 related keywords to be safe. Its machine-learning-based content analysis and brand-safety engine, Verity, found as many as 1.5 million pageviews to be brand safe even though they contained words such as “Covid-19”, “Coronavirus”, and “Quarantine”, Campaign reports

A gloomy outlook

The IPA Bellwether Report for Q1 2020 was released this month demonstrating the far-reaching negative impact from the pandemic, as total marketing budgets showed the strongest reduction since the global financial crisis. Market research, in particular, saw a cut of 21%, followed by events which saw a 15.9% reduction in budgets.

However, there was still some glimmer of hope, as firms expect the UK economy to recover during the coming financial year – let’s hope for a quick recovery! What’s New in Publishing shared industry reaction to the results. 

Similarly, the Advertising Association and WARC Expenditure Report sees UK adpend forecasts plummet 16.7% – or £4.23bn – from 2019. It comes as adpend increased by 6.9% year-on-year to reach £25.36bn in 2019 which was the tenth consecutive year of ad market growth.

The report states ad spend is expected to return to growth in 2021 with a rise of 13.6%, yet levels of investment are not expected to surpass the 2019 total. The downgrading of the projections for 2020 and 2021 demonstrate the deep impact Covid-19 has had on advertising since March.

In other news from April

Independent contextual AI specialist, Illuma Technology, has been shown to outperform industry benchmarks in Online Ad Awareness and Brand Affinity, without the use of personal data or cookies. Its AI targeting technology works by reading the real-time contextual signals driving user attention so that new target audiences can be identified.

The brand uplift study conducted by Kantar shows that Online Ad Awareness grew by 11.9% in a recent Illuma campaign, which is 65% greater than the Kantar UK norm. Illuma also increased Brand Affinity by 14.5%. Other metrics such as Aided Brand Awareness, Brand Favourability and Purchase Intent also performed high. 

A new shiny adtech thing has also launched –a video platform called Union. The joint venture of five leading video technology providers – PlayAD, Project Agora, ShowHeroes, Video Intelligence, and Viralize – will enable global brands to activate video campaigns on the sites that matter the most to their local audiences.

Union aims to help local publishers access incremental spend from global brands that want to support local media at a time when trusted content is needed more than ever.

Available programmatically and as a managed solution, Union brings a unique blend of pre-roll and outstream video formats to market, enabling advertisers to use contextual targeting on brand safe, trusted publishers which reach nearly 300 million users. You can read more about the launch via ExchangeWire

TikTok signed a deal with The Trade Desk making it possible for media buyers to bid for ad space on the network via demand-side platforms from the Asia-Pacific region. According to AdWeek, this partnership is the first time inventory on TikTok has been accessible via The Trade Desk, yet the social media network does have integrations with other DSPs in the region. Speculation is provisions are in place for the partnership to go global. 

Lastly, mobile publisher platform and programmatic ad exchange PubNative has partnered with in-game monetization platform Admix, to expand its offering with ads in gaming and VR environments.

The partnership will give PubNative exclusive access to Admix’s audience of Millennials and GenZ within mobile games and serve in-game ads programmatically through Admix’ssupply-side platform.

It will enable PubNative’s advertisers to reach users playing games in an immersive and constantly evolving environment, while not compromising on the user experience – keeping audiences engaged while driving brand recall in a similar manner to product placement in movies. 

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