The ad industry this year has faced its share of surprises and disruptions, proving once again that making predictions in this industry is tricky business. But if anyone is able to, it’s the ad industry’s CEOs – the people who have a good overview of what’s going on across the industry and have the inside track on upcoming trends. That’s why each year VAN asks a selection of CEOs to gaze into their crystal balls and predict the themes that will emerge over the year ahead. Here’s what to expect in 2018:
Scott Ferber, Founder and CEO, Videology
Over the past decade, the proliferation of devices has led to an explosion of digital touchpoints, and as a result, an explosion of data points. Data’s original promise—better targeting, clearer insights and last touch attribution— led many advertisers straight to these digital channels, creating the walled garden giants that are now threatening television. In 2018, TV will fight back. Data is no longer the domain of the digital-first players. Collectively, broadcasters can compete against the likes of FANG in terms of data and scale, and surpass them in terms of premium content and immersive engagement. But it must be a collaborative effort. I believe the industry is ready. We’re already seeing efforts to create common data sets, define new metrics, agree on standards and coalesce around compatible technologies to make advanced TV advertising as seamless as possible for advertisers. There is more work to be done as “TV” transforms across devices, but 2018 will be a year of collaboration for media companies, and a year of new opportunity for advertisers.
Mary Keane Dawson, CEO, The TRUTH Agency
The long running questions about media spend transparency will finally become actions in media transparency. We know from our own research that clients have had enough talk, so I’m confident in saying that it will be the year of affirmative action but also possibly a few public scandals both in big agencies and publishers. This is a positive as it means we’re starting to highlight and expose bad practice. Automation will finally take hold and we will see fewer people joining the industry and more and more people leave it. I also predict that there will be massive consolidation in the ad tech space next year. Hold on tight – 2018 promises to be a roller coaster of a ride!
Mike Shehan, CEO, SpotX
Digital television viewing is growing with more consumers viewing their favourite shows via the internet. In 2017, we have seen global OTT ad spend grow 18-fold. This has been led by the US but is also affecting EMEA where the ‘big five’ television advertising markets are developing OTT ecosystems at varying rates. Connected television advertising revenue along is predicted to reach €825m in these five markets by 2020. In 2018, we’ll continue to see this growth of data-driven television advertising as media buyers seek to address audiences with targeted ads and reach them on all screens in premium environments.
Pierre Chappaz, Executive Chairman, Teads
The European Parliament has voted for this new regulation, the aim of which is to protect the data related to internet users’ browsing histories. Currently, people give their consent for each website they visit to install cookies. The new regulation will require internet users to authorise cookies only once, when they first connect to their browser. As the default choice is to refuse, it’s likely that few people will make the opposite choice. ePrivacy would lead to the near disappearance of cookies in the EU!
As the media’s business model relies on cookies for targeted advertising, this could have a detrimental effect on publishers. By doing away with cookies, you’re inevitably reducing the online advertising market to the players that collect data without relying on cookies: companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon. Let us hope that the European Union stands by the European media and amends this dangerous project.
Ross McCray, CEO and Co-founder, VideoAmp
The linear TV market while facing continuing declines in ratings, will actually grow in revenue again in 2018. There is a flight to quality mentality with the biggest brand advertisers right now who have concerns around the well-known issues of fraud, brand safety, and measurement aspects of digital. That said, the TV industry isn’t going to sit still, there will be a continued push to enable more audience-based campaigns on linear TV that can leverage a brand’s or agency system’s first-party data. This opens the door for the few technology providers that can actually provide software and data solutions to power both buyers and sellers of linear TV.
OTT’s growth will make those content experiences and TV shows a bigger part of the 2018 upfronts. This again will require solutions that help connect user data to both digital identifiers and linear TV viewing data. These are things that must happen for the industry to continue to grow, and to stay competitive with the FAANG giants in Video (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google).
Michael Jaschke, CEO, glomex
In 2016, around 70 percent of the fixed line and 60 percent of the mobile internet bandwidth was already used for video – with a strong trend towards further growth. While today the online video industry is still trying to find ways to properly monetize the incredible amounts of inventory that is being created, the upcoming regulatory updates are going to uproot many of the current business models, as those circle around data collection methods that will no longer be legal. This will be a painful, yet extremely productive process that will bring forward entirely new models in 2018. Our prediction is that the new regulations will seriously damage many businesses, but they will ultimately put the user back where he belongs: in the very centre. The industry will find new and better ways to combine user experience and monetisation.
Marc Rouanet, CEO, Sublime Skinz
The advertising battle between in-app and mobile web browsers is rife and this will continue in 2018. But while a few select apps are absorbing 85 percent of consumer time spent on mobile, this doesn’t mean brands will be switching their entire budget to in-app. Instead we will see initiatives around mobile web delivering better user experiences and usability, benefiting from a wider reach and cultural diversity.
The industry will continue to demand consistent viewability metrics that can be used across the board – particularly for high impact ad units – leading to vCPM being used as a key trading metric. In addition, CTR will finally lose its footing in favour of more meaningful engagement metrics.
Finally, creative programmatic will become established, allowing brands to target both context and audience at scale, building engagement and elevating brand equity.
Kerry Bianchi, CEO, Visto
While AI is a hot topic of conversation, it’s more an overused buzzword than a revolutionary change to the ecosystem. In 2018, I expect the conversation will mature, moving past hyperbole toward understanding. We’ll begin to see more understanding that today we’re really dealing with machine learning, not true AI. Once that foundation is set, I expect there will be an acceleration of progress.
I expect to see more buzz about blockchain as a potential solution to the ad industry’s transparency problem, however it’s still at its very early stages. I suspect 2018 will be a year with a lot of talk and little action, as the industry has yet to fully understand what applications are appropriate for digital advertising.
Especially given the political environment leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, I expect “fake news” will remain a common feature of the industry discussion. It would be naive to believe bad actors could be 100 percent eliminated. Still, their efforts can be greatly stymied by an industry working together to create processes to quickly identify and take action that, hopefully, gain more widespread adoption as they benefit all legitimate players.