New Year, New Thinking

It’s that time of year again when we all take a moment, pause, recharge, reflect, and take stock of the last year. Many use this time to be with family and friends; others use the time to strategize and plan how they will attack the new year and take no prisoners. I’d like to think everyone does a little of both. I do believe 2013 will be a pivotal year for the industry, and thought I would share a few hot topics that everyone needs to keep in mind as they execute throughout the year.

  1. Economic conditions. With the ongoing struggles in Europe and our own “Fiscal Cliff,” we must be prudent with our investments. Now is the time to capture as much revenue as possible. Make key hires and capture as much market share as possible, giving you ample runway to weather any future economic storms that could present themselves.
  2. Viewability. Marketers always want their ads to be seen. However, only paying on “viewed ads” is ludicrous and no other medium in history has been held to this standard. This topic is one of great debate, but I would challenge publishers to consider the sheer number of ads they place on their pages. The practice of putting ads side by side or stacked top to bottom must stop, as it looks bad for consumers, and more importantly has a direct impact on performance. No more than three display ads on a page, please.
  3. Privacy/DNC (no, not the Democratic National Convention, the election is over). Europe is leading the pack with this topic. The Netherlands already has adopted an opt-in scenario where the only way to actively target consumers, based on previous behavior or detailed attributes, is with their opt-in consent. Many other countries are following and Microsoft is pushing hard to support the Do Not Track standard in the browser giving ultimate control to the consumer. If you are in the audience-targeting business, both these issues are front and center. If either is widely adopted, it will completely change the way targeted campaigns are executed. I envision an entirely new set of companies focused on solving for ways to identify patterns of performance and target based on truly anonymous activities.
  4. Free is never free. The freemium concept has been alive and well for many years now, especially in the mobile app marketplace and with ad-supported services like Pandora or Gmail. But remember that there is a cost to everything. As consumers, the impact may be very small at first, but once a single company gets you hooked and knows everything about you, the outcome is quite scary. The same holds true for businesses. There are a few companies that are giving away professional services like ad serving, optimization, corporate email, etc. in order to gain direct access to ad inventory and the attributes associated with it. This gives more control to the company while also enabling them to sell advertising at scale and with great knowledge. The publisher’s position in the ad marketplace quickly erodes as a result.
  5. Power to the platform. The concept of a single platform provider that gives publishers and marketers more control over their digital business isn’t new. However, in the last two years every company was building a platform – from mobile ad servers to DMPs to DSPs to reporting companies. In my opinion, you don’t have a platform until you have a well-integrated system covering all, or most, of the necessary components of the digital ad stack – contract management, inventory management, optimization, ad serving, data management, and analytics. There are only three or possibly four companies that are global in scope and can provide the right level of service to grow your business in 2013 and beyond.

2013 promises to be an exciting year in our industry. I see video, mobile, and display converging, wrapped in audience data, and clients executing cohesive campaigns globally. This is a big leap and will require new thinking and new ways of approaching and managing clients. Have a great year!

Brain image on home page via Shutterstock.

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