What’s shaping marketing budgets in 2018?

06/06 By IAS team

A savvy marketer knows how to stay on message, no matter what the message is, but behind the scenes the best marketers always have their eye on the bottom line. The way budgets are apportioned, and what drives those decisions can provide valuable insight into marketers’ real priorities. Last year we surveyed over 800 digital advertising professionals about the challenges and opportunities they expected to face in 2018. We paid particular attention to the issues that were top-of-mind for budget decision makers within agencies and brand marketing organizations to see if they hold up now that we’ve hit the half-way point in 2018.

Unsurprisingly, in the era of ISIS videos and Trump tweets, brand safety was a top concern across the board with 53.8% of all the marketers surveyed reporting that the issue was their top concern. However, when we looked only at budget decision makers the challenge became even more stark with 58.5% reporting the risky content was their top concern going into 2018. Those concerns don’t show many signs of abating now that we’re midway through 2018.

An eMarketer study published earlier this year confirmed a flight to quality inventory from top advertisers. CMOs are increasingly seeking out platforms and publishers with a proven track record for safety and brands have been thinking twice about open platforms like YouTube and Facebook where user-generated content can be tough to verify. In a few cases even pulling budgets temporarily from platforms that can’t offer protections. On the agency side, holding groups have been pushing the brand safety issue to the fore by demanding that platform provide greater transparency and by appointing executive level brand safety officers to lead the conversation with clients, publishers and industry peers.

While brand safety issues rightfully had marketers on edge entering the new year, ad fraud was close behind. While dangerous content can do lasting damage to brand equity, ad fraud represents an outright theft of marketing dollars that’s bound to be galling to any budget decision maker. That’s probably why 48.5% of them listed ad fraud as their primary concern versus just 42.8% of digital advertising professionals overall.

A wave of sophisticated new scams targeting mobile environments, combined with tough-to-track tactics like domain spoofing have kept ad fraud in the headlines. That’ not likely to change as a series of high-profile investigations have begun to shift the perception of ad fraud from a costly nuisance to a criminal matter. The industry has taken steps to push back. The recent launch of the IAB Tech Lab’s Open Measurement SDK (a movement IAS helped to launch) has provided app developers with a way to help combat some of the most insidious forms of mobile fraud and verification providers like IAS have worked to develop the capabilities needed to spot stealthier tactics like domain spoofing.

It’s clear that the challenges and opportunities identified by industry leaders in 2017 continue to shape conversations, and budgets, as 2018 wears on. To learn more about what digital advertising professionals foresaw for 2018 check out our 2018 Look Ahead microsite for survey results and insights on tactics, technology, barriers and budget drivers.