The Four Pillars of the Future Advertising Ecosystem

We are jumping into the new year with a wonderful new guest blog post from one of our members, Audiencerate. Filippo Gramigna CEO at Audiencerate, shares some wise words on the ever-changing digital landscape, touching on the developments and trends marketers can expect to see in the next 12 months and beyond.

It is that time of year when industry experts come together to make their predictions about what lies ahead: exciting changes, emerging technologies, and technical developments are all being considered for success. However, as we look forwards, we also think about what we have that is yet to evolve. 

The spheres of advertising technology and marketing technology have always run in parallel, and we’re now beginning to see them merge. CMOs, marketers, and publishers are starting to understand that to benefit from emerging data technologies requires combining stacks in the most seamless way possible. Where before there was a disconnect, the future will see a bridge being built between these.

In the meantime, while we watch the ways in which the architecture of the landscape is shifting, there are a number of other areas we need to be aware of; the pillars of the ecosystem to come.

Consent

There are a number of challenges currently defining the landscape: Google’s deprecation of third-party cookies, Apple’s increasing privacy restrictions, and shifting legal structures across the globe. We are already on a clear trajectory towards privacy, and while users are becoming more aware of the value of their data, there is still a lot of uncertainty around what “consent” entails. For this reason, it’s up to brands to lead the way and be transparent around how consent and data will be used and managed. Aside from inspiring trust, companies that enact these measures ahead of time will experience less disruption as a result of future changes.

When it comes to actual data collection, brands need to be more imaginative when it comes to getting to know their customers. For example, interactive communications across multiple platforms — social, digital, and email — openly involve consumers in choosing their preferences and shaping their own experience. Consider Airbnb, who got families to pick photos of their ideal holiday and derived shareable profiles from this, combining a fun gaming activity with engagement to reveal information about personal inclinations.

Interoperability

When it comes to future developments to watch out for, technology tools that can offer a solution to our complex ecosystem while facilitating accessibility and usability will be the main contenders. For current and future operations, data tracking will be vital to master, for as methods change, different structures will be necessary to translate the information gathered into viable input.

Among a number of tools that marketers are adopting to streamline internal — and consequently external — methodologies and applications, Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) are one of the technological developments that have been drawing in investors across the board. CDPs prevent data silos and facilitate the communication and transparency companies will need in a future where, far from losing its value, data will continue to reign supreme. The tool builds comprehensive user profiles and simultaneously manages and optimises campaign performance while maintaining privacy at its core.

Collaboration

Effective collaboration has always been at the heart of success. In order to create impactful campaigns, different departments — across advertising, marketing, research, and analysis — all need to be able to communicate and share both ideas and data. Customer relations can no longer be severed from content; all parts need to be integrated into a working whole to achieve the best results. 

But success also derives from external collaboration: be it to source capabilities, to share the burden of investment, or to develop ecosystem-wide solutions through privacy-first environments. The current state of fragmentation and inherent challenges predicts a shake-up of the industry, with many players restructuring their market positioning. Going forward we can expect more consolidation in the form of partnerships or M&As. As an example, we recently partnered with Roq.ad, Europe’s leading independent identity resolution provider, to move closer to achieving cookieless cross-device capabilities and a larger range of data solutions from enhanced targeting and scale options. This collaboration also allows us to extend our reach in proprietary data and data segment markets. Combining forces is all about pooling resources, and doing so can only lead to new creative solutions.

Identity

There’s no question that identity resolution will continue to pose a formidable challenge. Google has received backlash for providing a solution that ultimately favours larger platforms that benefit from more user data. In light of a few satisfactory alternatives, other players have already been developing their own ID solutions, most notably the Trade Desk with Unified ID 2.0 and LiveRamp’s IdentityLink.

The future of IDs is still unclear, navigating questions around authenticated versus anonymous, and industry-wide versus independent, solutions. Whatever the way forward, this is another area where collaboration across disciplines will be paramount to producing the best outcome. Only if publishers and tech companies work together closely can they truly elaborate which solutions will be the most impactful to consumers, beneficial to the company, and safe for all. 

We may only be at the start of the evolution of the digital ad sales ecosystem, but we can already see which areas will be more important in defining the landscape ahead. By staying on top of key pillars — such as consent, interoperability, collaboration, and identity — marketers, brands, and publishers can maintain resilience in the face of change and even be the ones leading the transformation. Each pillar helps support the next, and by looking at the ad tech environment both on a holistic and granular level we can meet challenges head-on to build a better future. 

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