The future of automated trading
To a journalist writing about the global media industry, online trading seems to evolve more rapidly than any other part of that great machine.
It was only five years ago, during a previous Automated Trading Debate, when the question of whether out-of-home might one day “go programmatic” was asked.
At the time there were bemused looks and even a little stifled laughter from some in the room.
Today digital OOH has plugged into the online world and inventory is sold according to the weather or sporting outcomes as it embraces the best of digital across millions of connected screens.
It’s just one example of how much has changed – and continues to change – thanks to technological advances, experimentation, changing consumer trends and almost unstoppable market disruption. And, of course, human vision.
But it can be hard to keep up. And for this reason alone, Mediatel continues to host the Automated Trading Debate to help the industry spot new trends, map current problems and help the sector evolve responsibly and profitably.
As we approach the end of 2019, what new trends should the industry be focused on?
There are many – from the rise of gaming as a new and independent media channel, to problems in performance marketing measurement, which we've highlighted in our news reports – but three key themes should also be noted during this crucial business planning period.
Firstly, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is currently in open dialogue with the industry - including brands, adtech vendors, publishers and trade bodies - as it wraps its head around real-time bidding, third-party cookies and GDPR compliance.
Legislation is forcing the industry to evolve and dig deep with new tech solutions"
It poses tech challenges for the entire supply chain, and could result in hefty fines next year for those that don’t step up. It also means third-party cookies – the staple of online marketing for the last 25 years – are as good as dead.
Consumers want better control of their data and the law has changed to enable this. It is therefore becoming harder to transact against personal identifiers and for brands who want to reach the ‘right consumer at the right time for the right price’, challenges await.
Yet ultimately, ditching the personal identifiers and ensuring compliance marks a return to good-old contextual-based advertising - but what was not available in the past is sophisticated machine learning to make it work much better for consumers, advertisers and publishers.
No one knows exactly what will happen – but legislation is forcing the industry to evolve and dig deep with new tech solutions. This might involve some headaches, but ultimately it helps the market mature and step into its next life stage. To many, it shows adtech is really growing up.
Other changes that might have a profound impact on the market include technologies such as blockchain. To many blockchain – synonymous with cryptocurrency, but only because it is the foundation that makes it work - is notoriously complex, yet its innate transparency could help solve adtech’s opacity issues, as well as ad fraud.
What is lacking currently, however, is any sense of scale. The industry also needs to educate itself about blockchain’s future application – and perhaps brace itself for the more collaborative behaviours that will be required to make it work.
So it is fair to say the use of blockchain in media trading is still very much in its infancy, but as a new tool, many experts believe it will define the future longer-term – so now is the time to dive in and understand how it could benefit clients and businesses.
Finally - and this will come as no surprise to many - the industry must continue to pay close attention to the online triopoly: Amazon, Facebook and Google.
The latter two seem to defy regulatory pressures and the majority of online adspend continues to flow towards their platforms.
Yet new platforms are coalescing around them – The Ozone Project, which pools publisher inventory is one such example. Couple this collaborative effort with the aforementioned regulatory changes and a potential move back to contextual targeting, and 2020 could mark the beginnings of something new and interesting.
It would certainly offer advertisers better choice, and simplify the ad buying process – all by offering scale, brand safety and marketing efficiency.