Digital advertising is a change driven business. To better understand the impact of top priorities and concerns in the year to come, we asked over 150 professionals about the challenges they face, the upcoming opportunities they consider most important, and how those factors will drive industry-wide change – and direct ad budgets – over the course of 2019.
From data privacy, fake news, through to social media and AI, the research highlighted a resounding call for better collaboration between agencies, brands and publishers, as well as greater transparency across the digital ecosystem. The key findings from our latest UK Industry Pulse report were:
Data privacy: the forefront focus
With the arrival of GDPR, data privacy has moved to become the top UK priority for the advertising industry – over half (55.5%) of all respondents felt data privacy was the top challenge for 2019, a significant 39% increase compared to the IAS Industry Pulse survey last year. It appears a sense of positivity towards the future of data protection has been instilled amongst UK respondents, nearly two-thirds (65.3%) said data privacy regulations improve business function. However, concerns do remain, with over half of respondents (61.2%) agreeing new regulations pose a significant threat to the entire digital advertising ecosystem. This mixed reaction to data privacy highlights a need for greater understanding of new and upcoming regulations and insight into how businesses will be impacted.
UK industry misalignment
When assessing the key priorities across the industry, we found distinct misalignment amongst UK respondents. Agency respondents agreed data privacy was the most pressing issue for 2019, brand respondents chose lack of consistent measurement across the entire media plan, whilst publishers opted for ad fraud.
Buy-side misalignment was further highlighted when looking at where future opportunities lie. Brands remain focused on multi-touch attribution and have begun to see greater opportunity in cross-device measurement. Over 2019, we expect to see more industry initiatives tackle measurement across the entire media plan – Unilever, for example, are beginning to show the possibilities of this.
In contrast to the brands, half of agency professionals (50%) surveyed are placing bets on AI and machine learning as the top future opportunity for digital advertising in the UK over the coming year.
Tighter collaboration and improved communication between all will be crucial this year if we are to successfully address key priorities such as consistent measurement and ad fraud head on.
Transitioning to transparency
Transparency was an overwhelming industry desire revealed in our research, with both brands and agencies calling for greater insight into the quality of digital media – specifically, 83.3% of brands perceived an overall lack of media quality transparency as the main threat to ad budget expenditure. Social media was also flagged, with more than eight out of ten (84%) of respondents noting that social platforms do not provide adequate transparency.
In a conclusive statement, seven out of ten (70.2%) of buy side respondents said that without greater clarity into social media platforms, their social budgets will be impacted in 2019. Social media platforms must act now, providing more meaningful insight into performance and measurement, or risk losing greater budget allocations. We have begun to see social platforms already begin to address the need for greater transparency, with the partnerships they are creating with third party measurement and verification companies. At IAS, we have recently announced our brand safety work with YouTube and our upcoming release with Facebook.
Opportunity of Amazon, AI and video
Overall, across the UK digital advertising industry, the greatest future opportunities were felt to be within video, AI and machine learning. Just over two fifths (41.1%) of respondents saw the future in video advertising, whilst 40.2% saw this in AI and machine learning.
When looking at platforms attracting larger ad budget allocation, Amazon was found to be set for a boost – with a majority (81.6%) of respondents believing Amazon will gain a larger portion of UK budgets in 2019. UK respondents are seeing that online consumers do not just visit the eCommerce giant to make a purchase; they also use it to discover and research relevant products. Amazon provides an attractive environment where consumers are ready to complete a purchase, making for an easy sell to buyers.
The UK Industry Pulse report clearly reflects the need for closer agency and brand collaboration, greater transparency into media quality, and wider understanding of data privacy regulations. To capitalise on the opportunities in 2019, the industry must work together to realise the true potential of digital advertising. Reaching the right audience, with the right message, at the right time on the right device is no mean feat, but by first finding agreement on the challenges ahead, in 2019 we have a chance to get closer than ever before.