For marketers working in digital 2018 was a year of change. Volatile news cycles put the media spotlight squarely on brand safety, programmatic took center stage for mobile marketers, and the industry at large renewed its focus on bringing transparency to the digital supply chain. These were big shifts, but they weren’t unexpected. Our IAS experts anticipated many of these trends way back in 2017 and our solutions rose to meet them. With that in mind, our prognosticators have turned their eyes to 2019. Below are some of the big themes, opportunities, and challenges we foresee in the year to come.
The Big Picture
The big story for marketers in 2019 is going to budget. Specifically, deciding where and how to spend it. Marketers will be expected to know how much money to spend and where to spend it in order to drive maximum impact, increase ROI, and build brand awareness. That’s nothing new, but budget decision-makers will be more focused on outcomes than ever. Greater transparency will drive demand for results-oriented spending and marketers will be under more pressure than ever to produce results from every dollar. That means avoiding areas of potential waste due to fraud, unviewable impressions, or unsuitable context, will all be critical.
Look for the number of custom viewability definitions used by media buyers to continue to expand in 2019, especially in EMEA. However, the proliferation of diverse custom definitions will likely lead to some logistical headaches for all parties. Expect the widespread use of multiple custom viewability metrics to drive consolidation around a smaller set of metrics to increase efficiency and accuracy of time.
Expect brands to continue moving their advertising in-house in 2019, especially programmatic. Programmatic reached maturity in 2018, with publishers pushing more premium inventory than ever into programmatic channels and marketers moving the majority of their digital spend away from direct deals in order to achieve scale for their campaigns. In the coming year, we expect brand marketers to take a more direct role in managing programmatic transactions in order to maintain control of their data and better align execution of their media strategy with ROI.
With the continued adoption of the Open Measurement SDK (OMSDK), we will also see brands starting to use programmatic to purchase more in-app advertising. DSPs will focus on bringing equivalent measurement, transparency, targeting capabilities to in-app that buyers are accustomed to with web.
2019 will be a great year for mobile transparency. As we look at the progress that major players are making in their adoption of the OMSDK in 2018 – we look forward to achieving true mass adoption which will really move the industry forward meaningful mobile transparency 2019 and beyond. Additionally, it will be great to see the impact of the Open Measurement initiative really drive the industry toward greater heights in VAST video measurement for the web as the VAST 4.1 specs incorporate the Open Measurement standard for the web as the mechanism of measuring web VAST inventory.
Expect the sophistication of schemes to increase in 2019. Fraud is always an arms race, but the next phase of this war will be automation driven. In this new reality, artificial intelligence and machine learning will be indispensable. As marketers pursue scale, fraudsters will follow suit and only solutions that are able to match that scale by combining deterministic rules-based methods with intricate machine learning techniques will be efficient.
Fraud in mobile
Mobile in-app fraud was a growing issue in 2018 and will continue to be a challenge in 2019. We anticipate that the industry will stop relying on the app-store for vetting mobile apps and start taking this type of fraud more seriously. App-stores, while very efficient, still cannot reasonably be expected to catch all types of fraudulent behavior. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Advertisers should invest in pre-bid risk segments to ensure high-risk mobile apps are excluded from their mobile-app strategy.
Fraud in OTT
As more OTT inventory becomes available on open exchanges this channel will become more attractive to fraudsters. The focus in 2019 will be on verifying that OTT ads are actually served on OTT devices. Expect verification providers to focus on detecting and preventing fraud patterns similar to the ones in web/mobile, and on identifying emerging OTT specific tactics as this medium gains traction.
As the broadcasting industry continues to grow, we’ll focus our efforts on expanding our integrations in that space. We continue to focus on diversifying our capabilities within video and mobile in-app, both in measurement and optimisation. Continue to grow our publisher business by expanding our reach in additional EMEA and APAC markets.
The OTT space is heating up in a few promising directions, but it’s also a complicated landscape. Although we would love for 2019 to be the year of Programmatic TV, we aren’t fully there yet, there’s just too much heavy lifting still needed to truly bring linear and digital video advertising together into a programmatic supply chain.
However, 2019 will focus on educating the market about connected TV platforms and how they are different from other digital platforms and can lead to different buying strategies beyond viewability. Right now, advertisers are demanding their OTT inventory to be measured for verification, to further efficiencies across campaigns but as we move into 2019, you will see advertisers shift to valuing audience targeting and exposure metrics as useful OTT measurements. Publishers will also benefit from this shift, as it is more accurate to measure OTT ads with audience targeting and exposure metrics rather than verification.