The Changing Digital Landscape

The Changing Digital Landscape
January 31, 2019
Reid Vineis

Digital advertising is changing every day. There are new regulations, new products, and new innovations all the time. It can be hard to keep up.

Here are three of the big trends to look for in 2019 that smart marketers need to be aware of.

1. A Shift from Platform Focus to Audience Focus
The lines between all platforms online are blurring. Social media sites are expanding their display inventory. E-commerce sites like Amazon and WalMart are becoming large publishers in their own right, and traditional media companies are adding online properties via connected TV.

For marketers, there is less concern about what platforms to spend on and more on how to reach the target audience.

This is why an omni-channel strategy is so important today. If a campaign is only buying on two or three platforms, they are missing many eyeballs. A comprehensive strategy will buy display, mobile, OTT/VOD, and walled-garden social media networks.

Think first about who your target audience is. From there, you can identify the right platforms and allocate spend appropriately. Don’t get hung up on chasing one medium because “that’s the way it’s always been done.” Follow the eyeballs.

2. Stronger Attribution & Measurement
Attribution and measurement have improved dramatically in the past few years. It used to be that for many campaigns, digital advertising had a “spray and pray” approach. There weren’t many good ways to measure the bottom of funnel actions such as offline purchases.

Now there have been real improvements in the technology. This has allowed campaigns to shift focus from vanity metrics such as impressions and be more focused on those KPIs that directly correlate to specific business goals. 

As expected, major brands particularly in retail and CPG were the first to adopt these new technologies. However, as the tools have improved and become more accessible, SMBs and even political campaigns now have access to top-notch measurement.

Savvy campaigns these days are using tools such as brand lift studies, real-world foot traffic, purchase history data and return on ad spend as the true arbiters of online ad performance.

3. Increased Regulation
2018 was the first year that real regulation came to political digital advertising. It is expected in 2019 that regulation will come into its own.

Last year, we saw the major platforms (Google, Facebook, Twitter) self-regulate political advertising in the midst of regulatory pressure. It should be expected that state legislatures across the country will adopt transparency measures that require reporting and compliance of political advertising. Additionally, data privacy regulations such as GDPR in Europe will impact the targeting of digital campaigns.

While transparency will ultimately be good for the industry, it will have two direct implications on marketers. First, regulations will put a premium on having strong first-party data. If you own the data and have acquired it properly, you should be in the clear. However, those campaigns that only rely on 3rd party data are going to struggle as many of these sources go away.

The second change is that regulations will force marketers to have to quickly adapt. Agencies and organizations that are not staying abreast of these changes are going to have a hard time when the time comes to deploy ads.

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