Five Challenges the Programmatic Revolution will Face over the Next Five Years

Toccara Baker

Whilst some of the earliest companies to market have started to fall by the wayside as their VC cash runs out, the reality is that on a global level the programmatic revolution is only just getting started. And there are still many challenges ahead. Here Toccara Baker, Special Operations Consultant at Adobe, explains some of the hurdles the industry is going to face over the next five years. 

Video advertising has completely transformed over the last five years, with the rise of mobile, streaming services, and social media all playing their part. Perhaps the most influential technological innovation has been the rise of programmatic technologies, which will continue to evolve and to shape the future of video advertising in the years to come.

Already we’re starting to see the rise of AI enhancing the programmatic buying, allowing for better analysis of data and creating stronger insights, meaning that brands can ensure the right audience is targeted whilst simultaneously wasting less of their ad spend. Programmatic buying is redefining customer loyalty too. By allowing advertisers to target new audiences with content, data-driven buying is allowing them to offer up deeper experiences that go beyond traditional forms of advertising.

Making the best use of data

Without customer data, programmatic wouldn’t exist. But the industry will continually be pressed to ensure it collects, uses and secures this data effectively.

One example is targeting audience segments, where brands will need to think more creatively about how to use data to improve acquisition. They’ll start to overlay first party data – about the consumer and their preferences – with data from partners and publishers, so that video advertising is even more targeted. It’s going to be fascinating to see how this plays out in a post-GDPR environment.

Transparent ad buying will require new business models

Transparency will continue to be a challenge for the industry, and brands must know their true reach across multiple screens and whether the impressions they are buying are: (a) being served where they’re told they will be; and (b) having the desired effect.

To ensure brands know that their ad-spend is in safe hands, an increasingly strategic approach to data will be required across the whole process, from planning and orchestrating to monitoring the ad buy. As transparency hails across the chain, we’ll see video buying and planning teams begin to merge, and offer end-to-end services.

GDPR: driving a people-based approach

The fast approaching General Data Protection Regulation will change the relationship consumers and brands have with data. Not only will it force publishers, brands and agencies to ensure that all customer data is protected, it will result in an industry that is entirely transparent in the data it holds, with consumers able to exercise their ‘right to be forgotten’.

This means the industry will need to take even more of a people-based approach to video. We’ll see advertisers becoming consumer-centric – taking a people-based view of how many times their messages are hitting a person, and how that drives their desired action. If they aren’t respecting their audiences, consumers will exercise their ‘right’, and brands will be forced to say goodbye to their data forever. Never has a case for quality, targeted content been more compelling.

Demand for ad tech talent

As programmatic continues to evolve, skills, or lack thereof, will continue to be a fundamental problem for the industry.

This is especially the case for markets that are only starting to get to grips with algorithmic forms of marketing. Those advertisers are going to need a pool of talent that understands the programmatic marketplace, and they’ll need to learn from markets that have acquired years of experience.

If they don’t, things like brand safety, reputation and customer loyalty will all hang in the balance, whilst also making local companies vulnerable to disruption by those who are willing to engage with data-driven buying. It means that in the coming years, we’ll see talent hubs migrating from established countries – such as the UK and the US – to those that are only just starting to explore.

Brand safety requires talent, not just tech

With the Financial Times recently finding 25 exchanges selling fake inventory on fraudulent sites, and Uber losing millions of pounds on nonviewable ads, brand safety is an ongoing industry challenge. The tech already exists to help combat ad fraud, but criminals are constantly finding new ways to circumvent protections each time the ad industry responds.

Talent — not just technology — will be essential to combating fraud across all geographies. Ad fraud a form of cybercrime that will only be overcome with persistent vigilance and innovation, but initiatives like Ads.txt show there’s much the industry can do to defeat it by working together. 

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