Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

What does 2020 hold for adtech?

By Gavin Stirrat, VP Europe, Partner Services at OpenX

We’re fast approaching not just the end of a year, but the end of the decade, and a lot has changed in the advertising industry in that time. Digital is now the largest advertising medium, programmatic has grown to become the primary tactic for display advertising, we have seen the rise of header bidding and the emergence of privacy legislation that has changed the way the industry works.

Moving forward into a new year, there’s a wealth of opportunity for those who are continuing to change with the times, and make the most of everything that new technologies have to offer. We’ve put together a few thoughts on what the adtech highlights are likely to be in 2020.

CTV goes consumer

Until now, the user experience for consumers across CTV channels has been, well, fairly average. Just five years ago, the number of subscription services available was significantly smaller, but with programs now spread across a much broader array of platforms — with a variety of cost and subscription models — it’s becoming much trickier for audiences to access what they want, when they want it.

That mix of over saturation with just a splash of tedium has really hampered scale.

But all that’s changing. We’re now seeing increasingly seamless integration between streaming platforms — not to mention collaboration with TV manufacturers, too.

Many TVs already have Netflix integrations, with Rakuten next to come to a remote near you. And as Roku and AppleTV offer search functions that display results from across all the streaming services out there, it’s clear that the connected TV is becoming far more user friendly for the average consumer.

It’ll be interesting to see how this continues into 2020. Despite moves forward, countless subscriptions still make managing different services — and all the content within them — tricky. But necessity is the mother of invention, and as consumers demand more, we’ll no doubt see some inventive solutions.

Perhaps it’ll be competitive, all-encompassing search services which work with all the channels, and platforms out there, or maybe it’ll be micro-payment backed, or ad-funded. Whatever the answer, user experience must be front and centre or consumers will continue to turn to the big extant players who can provide the majority of what they’re looking for in one place.

Success for the privacy compliant

The winds have changed when it comes to data privacy, with consumers more conscious than ever of how their data is being used — and regulations like GDPR and the upcoming CCPA on the other side of the pond tightening the rules. 

Although regulation has been a concern to many in the industry, we’ve seen a huge amount of collaboration from brands and agencies to ensure standards are met. Industry groups like the IAB have really taken the reigns in guiding advertisers through these new changes, and that assistance has made things easier to navigate.

Regulation really isn’t the enemy, and it’s opened the door to build privacy-compliant people-based marketing solutions. 

The sector is immensely resilient, and if tech providers can work out a way to operate in increasingly strict regulatory environments, there’s every chance that success in the digital ad industry will continue and increase.

A sustainable industry model?

We’ve seen a massive amount of change in agencies of late — whether it’s the upsurge of new agency models — like S4 Capital and Mighty Hive — ongoing consolidation, or just brands looking to in-house their media buys. 

All these developments have the same fundamental aim: trying to find a better, more sustainable way to give advertisers the control they want whilst maintaining profits.

Truthfully, 2019 has been a somewhat painful year, with players at every point in the chain feeling the pinch as the dust settles from past trust issues. There’s a clear willingness to adapt and make a better, more sustainable industry.

Slowing the progress to a new normal, however, is continued pressure for even lower fees, total transparency, and longer payment terms. That makes meeting in the middle around a sustainable model trickier.

With that in mind, it remains to be seen whether 2020 will be another year of jostling, or if the industry will finally figure out a fair way of working for everyone involved.

Roaring twenties?

With digital media spend continuing to rise — and new regulation guaranteeing a fairer industry that serves consumers, advertisers, and brands alike — the twenties could be a real watershed moment for advertising as we cast off some of the issues of the past.

Of course, there’s work to be done — and marketers would do well to reassess the ways they’ve always done things in light of the latest technology. But if we can make the most of all the tools at our disposal — in a privacy-compliant way — the sky’s the limit.