Three Great Reasons Why 2018 is the Year of Opportunity for Ad Tech

The new year provides an opportunity for ad tech to tackle the issues that challenged the digital advertising ecosystem in 2017, issues like brand safety, viewability and fraud. Here Amit Dar, strategic partnerships lead at Taptica, explains why 2018 will provide opportunities for collaboration between advertisers and for more focus on the customer experience.

2017 was a challenging year. Aside from the political upheaval, the commercial world seems to have been batting off threats – Brexit, taxation, economic slowdown – left, right and centre.

The digital marketing industry has been by no means immune. There have been well-documented issues over ad fraud and viewability. Concern grew over walled gardens – do they offer too little transparency while limiting brand control? Brand safety was a hot potato as marketers felt driven into a content Wild West. I haven’t even gotten started on GDPR. Feel depressed yet?

None of these issues have disappeared as we tip into 2018, and they’re not likely to go anywhere fast. But instead of another 12 months of challenge and trauma for marketers, I see potential and exciting opportunities. You may be sceptical, but I think the brickbats of 2017 were just what the industry needed to get back on track.

We’ll get back to the customer

In the digital sector we have a tendency towards navel-gazing. We obsess over data and algorithms, can be guilty of prioritising form over function and generally losing sight of what it’s all about – the customer.

I said I hadn’t got started on GDPR yet but in 2018 that’s precisely where we should be starting. Yes, it is legislation and with it comes the costs of compliance and heavy fines if brands fall short. But only if you’re still looking at it from your digital echo-chamber.

It’s a chance to collaborate

Right now, huge numbers of advertisers serve untargeted nonsense, bunging up people’s phones and then we’re surprised customers ad-block. Why? It’s time we started doing things differently.

But it is a highly competitive marketplace. Who jumps first?

GDPR levels the playing field. I’m willing to bet companies have privately been wishing they could take some time and spend some money getting their data houses in order. It’s easier to step back from yet another relentless mobile retargeting campaign and invest in the back end if everyone else is doing it.

GDPR isn’t the only thing that presses the reset button. Good things are coming out of the transparency and fraud issues of 2017. In particular, the recognition that industry challenges are too big for a single player to swallow whole. We’re going to see more mutually beneficial collaboration cleaning up the landscape as marketers, together with partners, band together to demand transparency and value.

The 2018 reset is going to launch a whole world of opportunity. It is a chance for digital marketers to be their best selves.

A chance to get creative not creepy

Ad tech has the chance to become more valuable, more responsible as it adapts to new data regulation. It won’t feel the need to chase the customer all over the web, pestering them for data and serving obnoxious mobile pop-ups until it’s just not worth viewing content any more.

A focus on user experience and responsible monetisation ultimately creates a more sustainable ad tech ecosystem.

It’s also a chance to move forward creatively. We thought digital was clever, targeted, personalised but with low quality volume buys and a focus on clicks rather than user experience, ‘spray and pray’ never really went away.

Instead, we have to work with the quality data and insights that remain to think intelligently about how our customers want to interact with us. We know video engages customers on mobile, let’s flex our creative muscles to deliver an experience that adds value, instead of ticking them off.

Let’s make 2018 the year where digital marketers got inspired, pushed the boundaries of the possible, got creative and audacious, surprising their customers – and themselves.

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