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#2018Trends: Integration of data, tech & creativity is still key

2018 is the year to realise the promises of effectively integrating data, tech and creativity to truly understand consumer journeys, and engage audiences in meaningful ways, that lead to tangible business outcomes.

2018 could also be the year that we see the term Programmatic becoming extinct. Fundamentally the walls between consumer touch points, media channels and their trading approaches will dissolve. The only variable would be whether a media investment decision has been taken on the basis of relevant data or not. Therefore, innovation in the programmatic space would ironically not only eliminate the word, but actually unify various components of data, platforms and creativity.

Advertisers should not isolate and evaluate the performance of Programmatic on its own merit. Integration is still the total sum game. Advertisers need to sharpen their focus on achieving real understanding and insights about their audiences. Only then can the most suitable media and messaging strategy to effectively reach and engage them be determined.

Data remains a hot topic. The search for quality data, and demand for bespoke data solutions has created a surge of Data Scientists and Analysts specialized in delivering various data needs, i.e. from management, analysis and segmentation of client’s big data, to mining multiple data sets for predictive modelling practices, to application of data in ad targeting cross-screen and across devices.

For advertisers, in some cases, cost of such data services including data and platform costs are becoming unavoidable incremental cost components for campaigns, adding to the importance of achieving positive returns for such investments.

Tech will continue to evolve, with the expectation of increasing open API driven automated platforms that will unify communication and workflow between advertisers, publishers, vendors and programmatic media channels.

Other areas to watch are the AI developments and its applications, e.g. personalisation, product experiences, demand predictability, supply chain management, and connecting sellers with buyers through surgical precision targeting.

It was recently reported that Artificial intelligence was forecasted to lift China’s GDP by 26 per cent, or $7.0 trillion, by 2030. The report quoted one such industry to be impacted as Retail and eCommerce, e.g. Alibaba’s AI-powered virtual stylist, FashionAI claimed to have the ability to recognize millions of clothing items, then pair such information with the tastes of designers and digital shoppers on its ecommerce sites to provide brick-and-mortar shoppers with a real-time fashion consultation.

eCommerce retailers are also transforming into publishers. Amazon, Alibaba, T-Mall etc. giants are gaining ground, capturing advertiser spends by promising data and targeted access to their millions of spending customers. Incidentally, some of these players are also contributing to a growing league of walled-garden publishers. With the lack of visibility into these environments, advertisers would be burdened with the added pressure to weigh-out the pros and cons of working with these partners.

From a market perspective, we may expect rapid development to continue in China. As with past years, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see the emergence of new players, new commercial models or data regulations, further fragmenting an already complex media ecosystem. Regardless, focus and attention on China is not likely to dwindle, as global brands continue to explore, test and learn, to determine the optimal approach to operate in this market.

Last and certainly not least, brand safety, anti-fraud measures and transparency continue to be top on the priority list, where advertisers, agencies, tech partners to publishers, all need to play a part. Advertisers should insist that they will only work with partners allowing third-party verification and adopting best practices in ensuring their environments are free of fraudulent clicks and malicious content.

Conversely, to ensure their ads are showing in brand-safe environments, advertisers should also be prepared to pay for higher CPMs, opting for quality over quantity.

Yean Cheong

Yean Cheong is the Head of Programmatic at Cadreon, IPG Mediabrands APAC.