Eight hopes and expectations of ad tech innovators for 2021

Although the ad tech industry wasn't hardest hit by the pandemic, it still felt the crises of the other companies. Advertising growth had stalled, with projected media advertising spending in 2021 falling from $ 758 billion to $ 738 billion.

Aside from the global recession that benefited some technologies and disrupted others, Ad Tech experienced local disruptions that caused industry leaders to think outside the box. The death of cookies and IDFA, new privacy regulations, shifts in the popularity of ad formats, and the introduction of new technology all added to a feeling of insecurity.

To shed some light on what to expect in Ad Tech in 2021, we spoke to eight Ad Tech innovators from Google, LiveRamp, Epom, and more.

Which events in 2020 were hardest hit by Ad Tech and how can we deal with the aftermath?

Michael Sweeney, Marketing Director at Clearcode

In my view, Google and Apple's announcements of their respective privacy changes were the biggest events of 2020 in the ad tech industry.

Although these events had an impact as they forced companies to assess their current situation and start planning these changes, the real impact will be felt when these changes are made in 2021 (Apple changes to IDFA) and 2022 (changes made by Google Chrome to Cookies from third-party providers take effect).

Abhinav Choudhri, Ad Ops Director at AdPushup

Soon after the pandemic was declared, the world closed to the point that advertising budgets took a nosedive. While the situation is still stabilizing as several countries open up – hence advertising budgets are rising – it has been an unpredictable year.

It seems like advertisers will either have to find and develop technology to access user data while respecting their privacy in order to serve them targeted ads, or they will soon have to say goodbye to all of that.

How will Ad Tech deal with the privacy issues it has encountered?

Jörg Vogelsang, Head of Publisher Growth at Liveramp and owner at 101con

Advertising as a kind of commercial communication between brands and consumers can only work if it is based on trust. Ultimately, this trust is a prerequisite for allowing commercial activities in virtual space. This is the prerequisite for the effectiveness of digital advertising.

Overall, I would expect three important things to happen in 2021. First, there are still many companies that need to implement a CMP. Second, data protection officers in various European countries will continue to review the existing CMP implementations. And third, advertising technology IDs will move closer to CMPs, or even these two technical pieces will be fully integrated.

Abhinav Choudhri, Ad Ops Director at AdPushup

While Google has issued a death sentence for cookies by 2022, it has also selected Privacy Sandbox as an alternative. The project is still in its infancy and there is still no code for marketers to analyze. It is clear that the giant plans to keep its stronghold in advertising with anonymized signals (not cookies) from its browser.

Michael Sweeney, Marketing Director at Clearcode

Despite the data collection and identity challenges, I believe that data will play a bigger role in programmatic advertising in the future than it has in the past, but privacy will be the key element. There are many companies driving the future of privacy-friendly data management. Examples of this are Permutive and InfoSum, both of which raised funds in 2020.

What ad tech trends do you expect for 2021?

Jörg Vogelsang, Head of Publisher Growth at Liveramp and owner at 101con

In countries like Germany, industry associations are forecasting growth in programmatic advertising of more than 8% in 2021. This is also aided by the fact that more formats become available. Omnichannel advertising is becoming more and more a reality. What was previously limited to desktop and mobile will be available for (connected) television, audio, games and on the main street with digital out-of-home.

Jakub Vachal, Senior App Specialist at Google

The use of machine learning and automation in user acquisition is likely to only accelerate when it is rolled out. Many digital networks are introducing more products based on machine learning to optimize enterprise user acquisition.

This allows companies to free up resources and make their marketing activities much more strategic, focusing on the bigger picture and its opportunities: a steady increase in online activity at home and an increase in screen time, accelerating the move to mobile-first behavior becomes. and increasing customer expectations for products that deliver amazing user experiences.

Stéphane Printz, Managing Director at Comcast and Sr. Regional Director at FreeWheel

We believe the CTV component will be a fundamental element of many advertisers' media planning in 2021, with an approach we call "Total Video" advertising that many marketers are already adopting.

Between September and October 2020, together with CoLab, an independent research company, we carried out a study by sending a questionnaire to marketing professionals from the main European countries (Italy, France, Germany, Spain, UK), where 68% of German Marketers are predicting an increase in their investments in CTV equipment in 2021.

Abhinav Choudhri, Ad Ops Director at AdPushup

The invention of 5G takes the foundation to a new level: the audience and consumption of online content will increase as the increase in Internet speed worldwide gives digital publishers and advertisers more opportunities to attract more audiences.

Vijay Ram Kumar, Founder and CEO of Automatad

Programmatic audio. We're still scratching the surface, and several giants, including Spotify and Google, are looking for audio ads. The next would be mobile commerce-enabled formats. In seeking to diversify revenue, publishers are trying to capitalize on trading, and this works especially for those with first-party data.

How will white label ad tech evolve in this decade?

Lina Lugova, Marketing Director at Epom

Although white label software is quite expensive compared to regular SaaS software, we are still seeing an ever increasing demand for white label. Companies with ad spend over $ 20,000 are willing to pay to own the platform and buy direct from SSPs at no markup.

Another option for businesses is to acquire a niche tech solution to enrich their own tech stack and compete with walled gardens. Ad tech deals were on the rise before the pandemic (think how Roku DataXu and Nike bought predictive analytics startup Celect), and I think we'll see it recover in the years to come.

Which user acquisition strategies are no longer working and should be abandoned in 2021?

Jakub Vachal, Senior App Specialist at Google

Many tools and strategies currently rely on device IDs to identify users and inform organizations of user acquisition activities. Not only the introduction of the IDFA pop-up window introduced by Apple for the IDFA collection, but also the general awareness of consumers about transparency and security in data collection will lead companies to adapt their strategies to the new reality.

Solutions that evolve in an environment where privacy is paramount, and companies that adapt their strategies to continue to effectively reach and engage customers, will come out stronger than before – by building strong relationships with their consumers while maintaining the key benefits of performance marketing.

Her advice to brands and ad networks: How should they advertise in 2021 and what tools should they focus on?

Michael Sweeney, Marketing Director at Clearcode

I think the first step is to assess the current situation and really understand the impact these privacy changes will have on your advertising strategies. The good thing is that there are already solutions that can help solve some of these challenges. There is no one-to-one replacement for third-party cookies or the IDFA, but there are solutions that can still help you achieve your goals.

For tech companies in particular, there has never been a better or more urgent time to invest in innovation.

Stéphane Printz, Managing Director at Comcast and Sr. Regional Director at FreeWheel

Based on the research carried out together with CoLab, we determined the current perception with regard to the advantages for agencies and advertisers. Responses highlighted a clear perception of the benefits Advanced TV platforms offer in terms of efficiency, targeting and reach across the buying funnel.

Lina Lugova, Marketing Director at Epom

The most common trap advertisers fall into is choosing all-in-one solutions for a provider. However, each vendor has its own flagships and laggards, so such a decision is not always the most effective.

My advice to brands is to pay more attention to their internal stack and to be able to put together a unique puzzle from the offers available on the market. With ad networks, pay attention to the formats of the rising stars and focus on innovation before anyone else.

Yaroslav Kholod, Director of Programmatic Operations at Admixer

While the trend towards programmatically buying residential property continues to be a top priority for brands, I recommend considering several factors when choosing a platform to work with:

  • Privacy. Does the platform comply with local data protection regulations and practices?
  • Technical skills. Does the platform meet the brand's targeting requirements? Does it have creative management and data management capabilities?
  • Inventory. Does it have access to audiences across different channels and environments?
  • Transparency. Have you known all the details of the inventory performance and the delivery path?

* * *

The main concerns of all featured experts are data and privacy issues. While Google, iAB, Liveramp, and other ad tech giants are working on unified solutions that work for everyone in the industry, their development efforts are far from achieving results. However, with the death of the cookie nearing, the ad tech industry is pressed for time and can expect a unified solution by the end of 2021.

The expansion of the available ad formats and bold experiments with omnichannel, rich media and multi-device advertising are other stops to visit this new year. CTV, DOOH, audio program ads and interactive ad units will soon be available for all DSPs, as will mobile formats.

2021 will be a year of trust and real transparency. Users expect not only loud words, but also strong actions from brands and technology providers around the world.

It may be challenging, but the "Hopes and Expectations" for the next 12 months sound more like requirements that we have no choice but to fulfill.

* Disclaimer: All of the above answers are the personal thoughts of the experts and not the official positions of their companies.

More resources on Ad Tech 2021

Promoting the Developer & Tech Community: A B2B Guide

Programmatic Advertising Trends: Top Tactics, Challenges, and Metrics

Anatomy and current state of programmatic advertising (infographic)

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