What does 2016 have in store for digital publishers?
Wednesday, 16 December 2015 - 12:00pm
Innovative, enlightening and – at times – turbulent, 2015 has been anything but dull for digital publishers. While the ad blocking issue spiked fierce debate across the industry and viewability rose to the top of the agenda, publishers also began to harness the power of automated technologies to drive inventory value and appeal.
So, how will the developments of the last 12 months evolve in the year ahead? We gathered together thought leaders from every corner of the tech space and asked them to share their views on the trends that will shape the digital landscape next year.
The ad blocking evolution
By Jonathan Milne, CRO at Celtra
Ad blocking will continue to be a significant issue in 2016. However, the conversation will turn from the arms race of ad blockers vs. advertisers to how the ad industry needs to improve its practices. A new set of guidelines is likely to be created, advising publishers, advertisers, agencies, media owners, and technology companies how consumer data should be used. There will also be a focus on the number and quality of ads delivered, including the most engaging formats – such as interstitial — and the level of tracking to which consumers should be subjected.
The industry must acknowledge the requirement to adapt to consumer needs. It is only once advertisers and publishers take steps to improve user experiences and create relevant, engaging content that we will begin to see a decline in ad blocking.
Quality will be optimised to fight ad blocking
By Andrew Buckman, Managing Director EMEA, OpenX
The number of UK consumers using ad-blocking software has risen to 18%, and this figure could increase if the industry does not address the issue soon. Consumers are demanding a better user experience and are prepared to block poor quality ads.
The industry must take more decisive action to meet the ad blocking challenge. We expect advertisers to improve the experience they deliver, with a focus on premium native formats. To win back consumers loyalty, advertisers need to deliver engaging, hyper-targeted ads that reach them at the optimal moment. Publishers will follow City A.M’s lead and focus on educating consumers about the role ads play in the free internet, and will ask those who still use ad blockers to pay a subscription for content access.
Tech providers will prioritise quality standards to eliminate malicious advertising, which has increased by 260% in the last year, with 58% of malicious software delivered through popular websites. These issues fuel the adoption of ad blockers, and may also deter premium publishers from fully embracing open programmatic exchanges.
Ad tech companies must commit to higher standards that prioritise quality and offer a safe, positive experience for end users.
A universal standard of viewability will be reached
By Lisa Menaldo, Managing Director UK, Sublime Skinz
Viewability will be crucial for publishers as advertisers expect guarantees on viewable impressions. This year, despite the IAB releasing viewability metrics, an agreed standard remained elusive as brands and publishers disagreed about what constitutes an acceptable level of viewability. For some publishers, low cost inventory is sold with the bare minimum of viewability standards, while for brands maximum viewability is vital for their advertising efforts to come to fruition.
In 2016, we will continue to move towards a global standard, which appeases both brands and publishers. However, this may be a result of consolidation across the industry, which will bring its own problems by reducing competition in the marketplace. No matter what, a global industry-wide discussion is needed; maybe then we will see viewability become the main currency in media trading.
Transparency will be the prevailing issue
By Greg Carroll, Country Manager UK, StickyADS.tv
Transparency will be a major theme in 2016, both in terms of economic transparency and viewability. The demand for transactional transparency will result in private exchange and programmatic direct models becoming the standard for trading programmatic video, as they allow publishers to build direct relationships with buyers, removing the intermediaries involved in open exchanges. By disintermediating the market, private exchanges eliminate arbitrage commission and allow publishers to set their own floor prices and maintain margins, ensuring maximum yields from video inventory.
Viewability is a key issue for the industry and plays an important role in transparency. Brands are no longer willing to pay for ads that aren’t viewable, and big names such as Unilever are taking a stand against poor viewability. As transparency initiatives such as the IAB’s L.E.A.N. Ads programme and the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) gain traction over the coming year, the industry will work towards a unified method for measuring viewability, far beyond the IAB’s current standards.
The inevitable rise of cost per view
By Julia Smith, International Consultant at Forensiq
2016 will bring a growing acceptance of trading inventory using the cost per view (CPV) metric. While the majority of publishers have historically resisted introducing the CPV metric, they will soon follow the lead of technology companies, such as AppNexus, that are starting to trade on this. With the industry increasingly accepting this new model — in which advertisers only pay if viewers see ads for the stipulated time — publishers will need to review the quality of the ads offered on their sites and adopt more advanced tools to assess viewability.
Publishers will therefore explore new and innovative ways of measuring effectiveness and engagement to provide viewability assurances. It will become essential to deliver a site that’s right for the publisher’s user base. In turn, this will result in publishers maximising the potential revenue of their inventory by only offering ad formats that buyers are willing to pay for. The silver lining will be that higher performing ad slots will then enable publishers to achieve higher CPMs.
With digital expected to account for 51% of ad spend in the UK next year, the challenges and benefits of trading with online advertisers will increase for publishers. Yet just as advances in technology bring new opportunities to advertisers, so too will they broaden horizons for publishers. With a wider range of ad formats and trading models, publishers will play an active role in forging the future of the industry, while uncovering new ways to boost revenue and meet the needs of a constantly changing online audience.
Creative needs to be designed for the device and with mobile the possibilities are huge
By Jamie Evans-Parker, Founder and CEO, wayve
The proliferation of digital advertising across smartphones, tablets, digital OOH and numerous other devices, means increasing numbers of advertisers are utilising the powerful potential of each unique channel while running one cohesive campaign.
What we can expect for 2016 is a real focus on advertisers harnessing hardware capabilities to emanate a far more engaging experience. For example, the accelerometer and gyro features in the smartphone and tablet automatically open a whole range of possibilities, including virtual experiences, movement based games, interactive customisation and locational based targeting.”
Mobile will become its own ecosystem
By Ben Walmsley, Regional VP, Northern Europe at Sizmek
Mobile advertising will make major strides during 2016, with the use of location data and dynamic creative resulting in ads being far more personalised and relevant, and branded apps integrating more native advertising. Chinese app developers will start to see the importance of using consistent implementation of MRAID to maximise their ability to bring in advertising, and – when combined with features such as couponing and the ability to pay using smartphones – mobile becomes its own ecosystem. Cross-device tracking and targeting will be a major focus in 2016, with walled-garden targeting unlikely to be a silver bullet due to limited independent data. As latency has a big impact on the mobile experience, publishers will need to evaluate how many scripts to employ to gain a balance between device tracking and page loading speeds.
Buyers will seek audiences not impressions
By Owen Hanks, General Manager – Europe, YuMe
Smart media buyers are no longer buying impressions or sites, but audiences: the consumer in aggregate. Audiences are increasingly difficult to define as correlations between demographics and content consumption become ever more tenuous. Consumers don’t tune into specific shows or watch certain channels, they move effortlessly between platforms and channels following currents of interest in search of engaging content. Throughout 2016, audiences will be targeted through their digital affinities – four in five consumers are more open to ads that are tailored to their interests – with the ads targeting tribes of interest rather than fixed demographics.
Advanced contextual targeting will allow publishers to boost inventory value
By Giovanni Strocchi, CEO at ADmantX
With the threat of ad-blocking looming over the digital industry, publishers must work with advertisers to ensure ad content is as relevant and engaging as possible. In 2016 publishers will dig deeper into their assets to boost inventory value and, more importantly – obtain more detailed knowledge of their audiences. Using advanced contextual data, publishers will be able to segment audiences with greater efficiency, offering stronger targeting options that advertisers will be willing to pay premium prices for. At the same time, by improving understanding of how consumers interact with content and what inspires them, publishers can gain valuable audience insights and develop profiles that define interests and propensity to purchase. Publishers able to offer this transparent view of content and audiences will provide advertisers with the best opportunity to achieve higher engagement, while driving the value of their own offering.