By Tobi Elkin
I’ve always thought Jordan Bitterman, Mindshare's chief strategy officer, North America, is a really smart guy. Since he’s in the thick of the real-time/programmatic media universe, I touched base with him for his 2016 predictions.
1. Viewability will only become more critical, not less. Here’s why: Most CMOs are still of the television generation, from a time when ad environments were safe, secure and guaranteed. In order for any marketing organization -- but especially those helmed by seasoned CMOs -- to move dollars into digital channels, safe, secure and guaranteed must be part of the offering.
Viewability, as a term, will go away at some point, but the concept will soldier on.
2. Ad blocking might be the best thing to happen to the industry. It’s taken up an outsized part of the conversation in 2015. While it’s threatening to the way things are today, it could just be the best thing to happen to the industry. And I don’t mean for that to sound like Pollyanna.
Let’s think of it this way: An entire generation of consumers has been able to customize every part of their media lives -- from the news they read on Twitter, to the friends they're connected to on Facebook, to the video content they consume across channels.
Yet, when it comes to advertising, the majority of what gets served doesn’t take that dynamic into consideration. The rise of ad blocking is happening at the same time as the shift to mobile. Now is the time for publishers and marketers to do things differently.
3. I believe we will see the beginnings of an industry “Bill of Rights” in 2016. Marketers will promise to be more respectful in the ways they use data to deliver messaging. Publishers will promise to speed up content delivery (by reducing the number of tags on a page) and to respect the privacy of their users. Consumers willeventually, perhaps in 2017, begin to understand that content comes at the small cost of being exposed to brands. This is an opportunity perhaps equal to the challenge it looks like today.
4. Creatives who understand how to use data to form or inform their work are at a major advantage. Our industry goes in cycles: Sometimes the publishers are ahead of the agencies, sometimes brands are ahead of publishers -- and so on. Right now, creatives are lagging. I say that with love and respect, as someone who admires the creative product and the many creatives I’ve worked with over the years.
But here’s why the lag: Media, and media companies, are a wellspring of data. And data is the new oil that makes the ad business run effectively.... And while there are many that do leverage data, there simply aren’t enough of them who demonstrate a positive tension between art and science.
Unfortunately, we won’t see that positive tension truly flourish until 2017. Until then, real-time creative will be something on the horizon, but not quite in the grasp of the average creative department.
5. The majority of marketers will acknowledge programmatic and its place in their current and future plans. We have just turned a corner on programmatic. While the word “programmatic" still carries a lot of baggage, over 50% of digital display and roughly 40% of digital video advertising are bought that way (both figures according to eMarketer).
Those data points represent tipping points. From here, we’ll see genuine efforts by major industry players to bring cross-platform solutions to programmatic desktop, mobile and television.
But, more importantly, these are important plateaus because once we feel an ownership stake in something, we also feel a requirement to make it better.
At the end of the day, programmatic is simply data-driven decisioning -- or “automated intelligence,” as I like to call it. That’s all it is. The transparency discussion, the disclosed vs. non-disclosed argument -- all that is a distraction from the main reason it exists in the first place: to harness data to make informed and effective decisions.
My prediction is that we will look back on 2016 as the year when the industry tossed aside many of the negative perceptions of programmatic and began to collectively make it a more successful venue in earnest.