Display has much to shout about, but it faces challenges in several key areas too. PerformanceIN quizzed Dominic Trigg, Rocket Fuel’s managing director of Europe, about his thoughts on the channel.

Trigg discusses the impact of artificial intelligence on advertisements, display saturation, Google’s rumoured Anonymous Identifier, European Data Protection legislation and industry growth areas in this Q&A.

What do you feel will be the next important step in artificial intelligence for ads?

Dominic Trigg: We are already seeing the high impact artificial intelligence is having on marketing ROI.  The next important step will be the adoption of this by more advertisers, across more marketing channels, helping to minimise inefficiencies.  

Working with one technology partner is also important, as it allows customers to reach relevant audiences across multiple platforms such as mobile, social, video and display, advertisers. 

We are already applying this idea across platforms and are looking forward to having the ability to universally plot a customer’s journey and attribute the user across all mediums. Failing to do this and continuing to work in silos will effectively result in advertisers continuing to pay to reach the same user across multiple platforms, multiple times. Which just doesn’t make sense.

The adoption of programmatic advertising by creative agencies is also an important step forward.  Harnessing the power of AI to test and optimise creative strategies ahead of pitches will be a key asset to them and their clients.  

The number of retargeting technology providers is rising, how far away are we from saturation point?

DT: I believe the industry is quite close to reaching the saturation point and advertisers are now starting to appreciate that re-targeting activity is often being credited at an inflated rate.  What we need to start doing is looking at the impact of prospecting and re-targeting and considering the potential of full-funnel display, and its impact on other marketing channels. 

The ability to prospect and reach new users who are not yet in the conversion funnel, is being applied by only a few players who are ahead of the tech curve and have the ability to analyse and understand customer intent. Advertisers need to ensure they work with one provider who understands prospecting and re-targeting in order to achieve the most powerful outcome.

How much of a problem will it be for third-party ad tech if Google ditches cookies for the rumoured Anonymous Identifier?

DT: At Rocket Fuel, we use our data to inform our models and are always adapting to whichever metric can best inform our campaigns. Decisions are made intelligently via self-learning algorithms that use granular and insightful data to provide a greater impact. As long as data is available to inform these models, and we continue to adapt, there will be less impact than people believe.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge facing online advertising next year?

DT: We need to continue to de-mystify the digital landscape, enabling more marketers to invest and continue to demonstrate the value of creative to attract new customers and increase brand loyalty.  Big data, or rather smart data, is here to stay and it is imperative that conversations about using it in the advertising industry are accessible to clients.

We need to drill down into a granular level of detail to be able to demonstrate purchasing ROI.  Providing insight, reason, logistics and pace that fits with marketer’s expectations is critical to success. Rising to this challenge is going to be one of the biggest factors to continued improvement.  

How concerned are you about the forthcoming EU data protection regulation?

DT: Users of the Internet are somewhat unaware that all the great content they have access to, comes at a price, and this has to be paid for somehow. The vehicle is paid for advertising. However, companies like Rocket Fuel need to be serving relevant content to the user in order to make advertising successful and allow publishers to monetise their sites. 

Earlier this year, The Guardian Media Group, publisher of The Guardian newspaper, announced that after years of losses, the Group is now making a profit. Many of its rivals began charging readers for content, but The Guardian did not follow this trend and saw a 29% increase in its digital revenue. 
The Guardian is using real-time bidding to serve relevant ads to the right user, at the right time. As a result of The Guardian using real-time bidding to get relevant ads to relevant users at the right time, we can only assume that advertisers are getting a lower cost per acquisition with the paper than they would with others. Using the most advanced technology partner to match the user with the most relevant messages will naturally have the greatest effect, so the opportunity to advance this increase in revenue remains an on-going  journey.  It will be interesting to see how the future pans out for The Guardian versus some of its rivals and their pay walls.

Where do you expect to be the next growth market for advertising?

DT: In terms of programmatic advertising, the European markets are a key priority. In the past 18 months we have opened offices in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and the Nordics. We see great potential in the adoption of programmatic advertising in these markets and will continue to invest in them.