What's next for ad-tech?

If one thing is certain in the ad-tech industry, it's the relentless pace of innovation. So which future trends will have the biggest impact in 2020?

What's next for ad-tech?

Predictions are tricky business in the ad-tech industry. Like any technology-driven sector, innovation happens fast, and can fundamentally change the way we do business. Take the increased regulation around consumer data privacy as an example – a broad regulation forced change on nearly every stakeholder in the industry. If 2018 was the year the industry was upended, then 2019 was a time for everyone to take stock and shape the future.

So, what does the future look like? Based on the trends we are seeing in market today, here are three industry predictions for 2020 and beyond. 

Brand-safety blacklists will become obsolete
Brand safety has evolved significantly since it was thrust into the spotlight in 2017 after a spate of bad ad spots scared major brands and advertisers. In response, many companies created their own brand safety blacklists to serve as an umbrella insurance policy against negative brand associations.

However, the technology which is used to block bad brand associations has become increasingly sophisticated and nuanced, so much so that the premise behind brand-safety blacklists will become obsolete.

In their place, we will see a move to brand ‘suitability’, which goes well beyond simple blocking to include the ability to identify and target premium inventory. Brand suitability will mean advertisers get access to more premium inventory, and more control of their adspend, while publishers will benefit from increases in scale and a more complete match of their high-value environments to advertisers.

We are already seeing this in the market today, with sophisticated advertisers combining positive and negative associations to develop their brand’s suitability profile. The goal is to find that sweet spot for a brand’s advertising and a repeatable process for identifying the right mix of segments that consistently deliver high-value, premium inventory. 

Context data and insights fuel the planning process
To date, contextual targeting’s role has been primarily at the activation and DSP level – to add brand safety measures to campaigns. But contextual solutions can also analyse how people engage with content online, and the more we develop it, the more we see its value as a measure of consumer behaviour.

This is the premise behind Contextual Intelligence, which refers to the insights, patterns, and information made available by analysing how content is consumed and interacted with online, over time. Contextual Intelligence is a very valuable strategy in its own right and – in lieu of high-quality, cookie-based and third-party data, which are becoming increasingly limited in availability – contextual insights are also a safe way for marketers to plan campaigns more effectively.

Contextual Intelligence reveals insights that matter: when people are engaging with content, how trends evolve over time, what product and content categories are most popular, how news cycles ebb and flow during major events, and more. This information can be used to allocate budgets more efficiently, increase scale, learn more about online user behaviour, discover new audiences, and reach consumers in the right mindsets.

Madtech convergence will continue with greater emphasis on measuring outcomes
The convergence of AdTech and MarTech will accelerate in 2020 as marketers lean heavily on their first-party data to inform strategies. Innovative brands and marketing leaders will combine Customer Data Platforms (CDP) and Data Management Platforms (DMP) to develop a complete view of the customer across all channels and touchpoints. They will use this data to map a new customer journey and deliver seamless experiences across marketing, advertising, sales, and commerce.

The next step is proving it all worked, which means marketers will need to rethink their measurement strategies to move beyond verification and focus on proving their impact on real business outcomes. Only when we can connect the dots for campaigns from valid views, to capturing attention, through to influencing sales, can we call ourselves truly data-driven marketers, primed and ready for the future of MadTech.

2020 promises to be a year of innovation in data-driven marketing and I expect that to come from many different places, as the industry seeks to find consumers at the right time, and in the right mood, for engagement.

Mark Ashworth is vice-president/general manager, international for Oracle Data Cloud