Sarah Stashuk, Aristotle Interactive‘s Director of Digital Media & SEO, went to New York this year for the 2017 Advertising Week and Google Partner Summit. Every year, Advertising Week is an opportunity to catch up on the latest and greatest trends in advertising and get a feel for the state of the industry. These are some key takeaways from the trip, and from what we can see, advertising is becoming more complicated than ever.
#1: The advertising industry needs standards
The industry needs a common set of standards with regulations, oversight and transparency. There is no definition of an ad impression, and it’s estimated that at least 50% of programmatic ad impressions are never viewed by a human. Agencies selling ads often have a conflict of interest, if they are getting higher compensation for selling their own platforms or partners’ platforms. Unlike many legal and financial institutions, there is no clearly defined standard of fiduciary duty in the marketing field.
#2: We need to focus more on the user experience
Top priority is to deliver a frictionless user experience. People are increasingly demanding and impatient due to the mobile mentality, and Google is encouraging advertisers to use AMP pages to deliver content faster. Google is making it a best practice to send AdWords to AMP pages and are probably getting ready to release a pretty dramatic update to landing page quality score to make this happen.
#3: Programmatic buying can damage brands
There is a movement towards programmatic advertising for media buying paired with human intelligence for branding, creative and strategy. However programmatic is wrought with controversy due to concerns for brand safety. If a computer can drive your car, they can probably buy your ads, but will they show up on an ISIS site? Also programmatic with real time bidding creates latency that may result in such a delay (2+ seconds) that no one wins the auction.
#4: 1st party conversion data is the most valuable
The industry now only truly values 1st party conversion data, and the big players are doing everything they can to get their hands on it. Yet companies like Adara and Arrivalist are selling the ability to track your ad impression to the sale via 2nd and 3rd party data to validate the ad spend. Post-impression conversion tracking — even with first party data — is only correlative at best.
#5: We don’t see eye-to-eye on attribution models
There is still disagreement about attribution modeling. The industry has been utilizing the last click or impression model by default, but Google is pushing everyone to use their new data-driven attribution model to get a more balanced view of the contribution that each ad impression and click has on the final outcome. However, there is much talk about “walled gardens” of Google and Facebook, where you are only seeing data within a closed system and are having an experience that is tightly controlled by the owner of that space.
#6: The agency marketplace is getting crowded
The role of the agency of the future is unclear, but it is an increasingly crowded space with new agencies popping up every day. Perhaps for large brands like Unilever, the agency will be used for overall branding, and in-house teams will be used for day-to-day creative adjustments for product roll-outs, etc. Larger brands seem to still trust agencies for media buying above programmatic, due to concerns about brand safety.
#7: Organic content is essential for large brands
Large brands seem to be more focused on organic content creation to answer search queries, such as Unilever’s All Things Hair.
#8: Digital out-of-home ads have a lot of potential
Digital Out-of-home advertising is claiming to be the antidote to the problems of ad blocking, ad fraud, and limited viewability of the digital ad space. This includes billboards, lobby ads, elevator ads using facial recognition software to dynamically deliver relevant ads while collecting data. They say they are building the “new responsive city.”
#9: YouTube is becoming more conversion-focused
Google is releasing new YouTube performance features to increase conversion-focused advertising on YouTube.
#10: There needs to be more industry transparency for our customers
There is an urgent need for increased education for the general public, because advertisers are spending their money and the public doesn’t understand how to select a trustworthy agency or how to evaluate the results.