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Marketing Predictions for 2016

As we move closer towards 2016, it’s the time of year to take stock of 2015, assess where the industry stands and look at the key trends for the future. Here are my predictions for digital marketing in 2016.

Smarter attribution

Attribution has been a hot topic for the last few years, however we still see a large part of the market applying a last-touch attribution model with limited understanding of how media buys effect each other.

It’s refreshing to see advertisers taking positive action to understand multi-touch attribution, working directly with specialist companies and technologies to help them achieve this, as opposed to just talking about it. I’m hopeful that 2016 will be the breakthrough year for mass multi-touch attribution adoption. This becomes even more interesting and fruitful as the conversation changes from screens to audiences and understanding how consumers interact with brands across multiple devices in different stages of the consideration cycle. There’s still a long way to go, however the potential of joining these dots gives marketers something tangible to strive for.

Creative will be closer to media automation

With the rise of native there has been renewed focus on the relevancy of creative to audience and environment. Until recently, programmatic has focused on the executional side of media buying with less focus on the creative message, with the exception of dynamic creative optimisation (DCO) which is now a common tool for online retail. Recently we have seen advertisers looking to bring their creative agencies together with their media buying partner at a much earlier stage with a view to understanding how to marry creative and audience in an engaging way without losing the efficiencies that media automation is delivering.

Death of in-app?

The value of mobile app vs mobile web has been an ongoing debate, with many believing that it’s a closed contest – apps having won hands down. However data shows that this is not the case now. Mobile browser traffic is two times larger than in-app traffic and is growing 1.2 times faster in developed markets. In a few years’ time smartphones will begin to look more like an extension of the desktop, heavily driven by responsive design, larger smartphone screens and increased speeds.  Introduce 5G to the mix and speeds will increase even more.

As a result, we’re seeing a rise in available inventory on mobile web. This is good for advertisers as it simplifies the need for SDKs and tracking, however advertisers need to be aware that desktop ads are usually not suitable for the mobile environment. The relationship consumers have with their phones are very different from the one they have with their desktops and the creative messages used should add to the user experience, not be an intrusion.

Viewability clean up

It won’t come as a shock to anyone that viewability has made the list again. Media owners have been pressured to step-up solutions along with expectations, and the response has been to optimise sites to deliver higher viewability. Advertisers also need to be careful that they are not focusing on hard viewability targets that when achieved actually have a detrimental effect of their business KPI’s.  Marketers need to think about viewability as cost per ad seen rather than percentage viewability. An $8 CPM with 75% viewability has a higher cost per ad viewed that a $4 CPM ad with 50% viewability.  While viewability is an important metric advertisers should not lose focus on their primary goal of hitting their target audience cost efficiently. Finding a balance that delivers against several KPIs can take a little time, so I would also advise advertisers work closely with programmatic partners for a period of time and resist the urge to change regularly. Every time a new vendor is on boarded the process to find the right balance begins again and advertisers are back to square one.


About Tim Webster:

Tim Webster is CSO and co-founder of The Exchange Lab. Prior to that Tim held senior roles at ad networks, MediaBrokers and Technology Brokers. Here he helped to launch ad serving technology Atlas Europe, which was acquired by aQuantive in 2006 and Microsoft in 2007.