What next for digital advertising?

We'll see significant developments in how both data and cross device attribution are used to boost ad campaign performance, says the vice president for EMEA at Yahoo.

Nick Hugh: the vice president for EMEA at Yahoo
Nick Hugh: the vice president for EMEA at Yahoo

In the past couple of years, programmatic, native advertising and content marketing have quickly evolved from the realm of prediction to 'must buys' in most marketers' digital planning, alongside search and display spend. So what next for digital advertising?

2015 was a year in which we saw a notable rise in discourse in two areas: ad blocking and video. In 2016 we can expect a sharper focus on these two areas, with them both driving innovation in very different ways. 

Alongside this, we'll see significant developments in how both data and cross device attribution are used to boost ad campaign performance.

Ad blocking - the industry will fight back

Whilst ad blocking won’t be the Armageddon that doomsayers are predicting, the industry will realise that it has a collective responsibility to act. Publishers will adopt a more user-centric, additive approach to advertising which will bring native advertising to the fore and the buy-side will adapt accordingly.

Native advertising ticks all the boxes when it comes to improved ad recall, higher purchase intent and increased brand favourability. The rise in ad blocking will drive even more innovation with this ad format, delivering yet higher audience engagement and ROI.

Ad blocking companies will try to sell ads around ‘their’ audiences but will struggle to get market adoption within the advertising community.

Video will come of age on digital

The rise in video will be threefold. Firstly, we’ll begin to see a format shift. Horizontal video has perpetuated in popularity simply because it is a legacy of platforms such as TV and cinema.

However on mobile, now the dominant platform of all, vertical video is an invariably better user experience and we can expect to see more campaign videos made in portrait mode.

Secondly, mobile video will go fully programmatic and begin closing the gap with time spent watching video on desktop. Advertisers will start to see greatly improved in-app targeting driving better value and performance from their buys.

Last but by no means least, we’re going to witness a huge growth in social video. In 2015 we saw between two and six times growth in social video actions across the various platforms, according to comScore. Millennials will continue to drive this growth and it’s expected that by the end of the year social networks will be their primary destination for video views.

Social video will be an opportunity for marketers to utilise what is a familiar format in new and exciting ways, such as in the use of GIFs. Tumblr, often hailed as the home of the GIF, has a staggering 23 million GIFs posted every day and GIFs will become a staple tactic of brands seeking better social media engagement.

The dawn of a new era of data

We all know that data is key when it comes to delivering ads to the right audience, but in the coming year we’ll start to see data being used to shape creative design and messaging to drive new user acquisition, as opposed to dynamic creative being limited to known or current customers.

Key to this will be creative agencies and media agencies working even more closely together to utilise publicly available media owner data.

At Yahoo, we have an open data platform that allows advertisers to use their first-party data and third-party data, as well as any Yahoo data, including from Search, Mail, Flurry or Tumblr to create audiences across both Gemini and BrightRoll, our native and programmatic offerings respectively.

Having a collaborative and open approach to data will see the dawn of a new era for data, one that will let creative agencies develop messaging based off proprietary user insights from media owners.

Cross device attribution develops

Understanding and recognising users across devices will become an essential component of digital marketing. It will no longer be acceptable to not recognise the majority of your users’ across devices and sequential storytelling will become an expectation, not an ambition.

Measurement will remain critical and we’ll see improved cross-device attribution and offline sales impact measurement tools increase in importance.

Nick Hugh is the vice president for EMEA at Yahoo

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