It's not easy to determine which direction performance marketing will take next year. To get a new perspective, we asked 21 experts from a variety of North American companies what they expect will be the biggest industry developments in 2015.
Konstantin Dieterle, Managing Director
A stronger focus on video: As well as video previews now being available in the iOS 8 App Store, we expect to see TV and YouTube continue to boom, as well as mobile video advertising. The latter is currently the fastest-growing category in mobile advertising, and video eCPMs (effective cost per thousand impressions) are eight times higher than banner ads.
Maor Sadra, VP Strategic Development
Social features and social media virality: We will see many more social features added to games, just like King’s new 'Candy Crush Soda Saga'. Word of mouth, especially leveraged through social media platforms, will create a virality-based ecosystem which puts users in the driving seat and vindicates their preferences. This will increase supply and improve ROI for advertisers.
Charity Stebbins, Senior Content Strategist
Next year, we'll see consumers increasingly resisting brands that don't cater to their specific content needs. As a result, we'll see SEOs and search engines turning their attention from keywords towards targeted content. It wouldn't be surprising to see algorithm shifts in line with this; search engines will start serving content based on relevance to a searcher's persona. Brands will increasingly start segmenting their content by persona and buyer's journey stage to stay ahead in the market.
David Shay, SVP Marketing
The digital content consumption behaviors of internet users has been evolving at an escalating pace. Rather than visiting websites and portals to consume content in a static experience, increasingly consumers engage models that allow relevant content to ‘find’ them where they are. Content curation tools and social media sharing behaviors have turned the world of content consumption on its head. In 2015, the winners will be advertisers that find ways to tack into this evolution, packaging and delivering their message in ways that can be delivered seamlessly to a consumer inside an experience they define. 2015, then, will be all about advances in content marketing and native advertising.
Julie Ginches, CMO
2015 will be the year of the empowered CMO: She will be smarter, bolder, and more powerful than ever. With access to customer data that will give them Amazon-type powers, they will chart new and creative ways to persistently engage their customers, connecting media and purchase touch points on offline channels and multiple devices.
Mark Zagorski, CEO
The industry will see the dawn of the TV DMP [data management platform]. The proliferation of smart TVs and set top boxes that have digital data capture capabilities means TV is playing a bigger role in harnessing consumer data to not only make ads more accurate, but also for measuring the performance of ads in both the online and offline worlds. The TV DMP will be the backbone of this shift as media owners and advertisers seek an efficient way to ingest, manage and make actionable the influx of "TV Everywhere" data.
Marketers will wake up to the biggest threat of the walled gardens of online media - the handful of companies attempting to control access to consumer data that their advertising relationships generate. In 2015 we’ll see the power shift as marketers begin to demand their data back, so that they have the flexibility to move their data from partner to partner, and determine what media works. Agencies will be their biggest advocates in this effort, and it will make the once cozy "agency-media" relationship get downright chilly.
We will take a serious step closer to the marketer's ROI "Holy Grail" - correlating ad exposure to purchase across online and offline channels. The connectivity enabled through the growing "data cloud" of consumer information and digital media touch points will reach a tipping point. TV, mobile and desktop ad experiences will be connected to online and offline purchases at a census, not sample, level that will enable marketers to build dynamic marketing mix models that will take advantage of increasingly fluid media buying solutions.
IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau)
Anna Bager, SVP and GM of Mobile and Video
Mobile: 2015 will be a key year for gaining a better understanding of measurement in mobile as well as cross screen. We will be able to get a clearer picture of growing mobile media consumption among consumers, potentially shifting buyer perceptions and behaviors in the process. There will be increased interest in the areas of mobile programmatic and mobile data.
Video: We will be focused on providing meaningful guidance around video creative and delivering, including frequency capping, ad skipping best practices, etc. There will be a rise in original content production- often from unexpected sources. This uptick will help solve the current "lack of inventory" problem and potentially drive the industry ahead in creating better business models and further increase monetization opportunities.
Scott Cunningham, VP of Technology and Ad Operations
Automated direct: 2014 kept the momentum going in discussion surrounding the safety of the supply chain. We will see more focus in 2015 on automated direct in programmatic, and we'll see companies' M&A strategies follow suit, with newly acquired units allowing them to now be in direct relationships with sellers. Ultimately, these marketplace shifts will require that compliance programs have a bigger role to play in the name of transparency.
Fraud: 2014 was the year that we talk about wasted ad spend on fraud. 2015 will bring more conversation about the wasted ad spend on inefficiencies in the supply chain. Stakeholders are going to put the focus on ad operations - looking at how it matures, finding ways to reduce friction and costs.
Ziv Eliraz, CEO
Viewability and intent: Viewable, above the fold ads don’t overcome banner blindness or give good ROI without proper, intent-based targeting. Above the fold, viewable ads are necessary, but not enough to get superior ROI. Real-time, intent-based data derived from content, searches and other behaviors is what truly matters when it comes to targeting. This foundation of data not only ensures that ads are visible to the right audiences, but that they also drive engagement and conversions.
Cross-device targeting: The mobile channel is one of the fastest growing channels, and one of the most important to consumers right now. Data points like high performing time zones or days of the week can be layered to create more robust mobile profiles and target users on the go. This can help advertisers boost CTRs while simultaneously reducing CPAs by up to half. The advertisers that take advantage of the channel now as it grows, delivering integrated multichannel campaigns targeted by intent data, will be the ones that lead the pack.
Integral Ad Science
David Hahn, Senior Vice President, Product Management
Media quality will finally matter: Premium publishers who are producing good content, and advertisers who are looking to purchase good content, are becoming increasingly fed up with the issue of watered-down media quality. Buyers are complaining that their ads are being served to sites which, while perhaps contextually relevant, are poorly written and badly designed, with sometimes as many as 12 ads appearing on page. Even the most upstanding citizens in the greater media ecosystem are being adversely affected.
2015 will be the year that the industry finally does something about it. With the development of technology to help differentiate between premium publishers, amateur bloggers and everything in between, the industry can finally reach a consensus on the valuation of ad inventory, thus reducing wasteful spending and improving performance.
Tom O’Regan, CEO
Intent Data: In 2015, it will be intent data that becomes the gold standard of B2B marketing. Along with the shift toward standardized use of intent data, will be the gravitation toward marketing platforms that can handle the wealth of data necessary to drive that intent insight. These platforms must be able to parse multiple, continuous streams of data and act upon that insight in a timely manner, using automation tools and sophisticated algorithms. 2015 is going to change the face of B2B marketing, and it’s going to be intent data that drives it.
Madison Logic Data
Erik Matlick, CEO
Big Data: 2015 will be the year businesses take actionable second and third-party data sources and apply them to the marketing ecosystems that they have been assembling. B2B marketers have spent the last several years developing and implementing their marketing machines. By investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the infrastructure to handle big data, they are now ready to apply additional data sources outside of their own first-party data. With the necessary infrastructures in place and third party data sources widely available and actionable, medium size businesses will be able to compete with the largest organizations in the usage of Big Data.
Denise Colella, CEO
Fraud, viewability and transparency: These will all be watch words next year and they’re all interrelated. Ad fraud has become a very public issue, and non-human and otherwise bogus traffic accounts for anywhere between 10 - 40% of global display inventory. Expect a swathe of products emerging in 2015 to both tackle fraud and better deliver viewable impressions, as they're two sides of the same coin. Transparency will come to the fore as advertisers demand greater insight into where their ads are appearing; the increasing importance of PMPs and the move away from open exchanges are symptoms of this. Solving for ad fraud, viewability and transparency are all very important in attracting brand dollars and prioritizing these issues for 2015 is an indication the industry is growing up.
Direct relationships between brand advertisers and publishers will become increasingly important again: Brand advertisers want to appear in safe, well-lit environments and ones that enhance their brand – exactly what premium publishers offer. Advertisers want to use valuable first-party data to target their campaigns – exactly what premium publishers offer. In the programmatic world, private marketplaces are helping to facilitate these direct deals between advertisers and publishers. While we’ve seen in the past few years a growing distance between the buyer and the seller, now we’re beginning to see this trend reversing and the parties reuniting for the benefit of both sides. Direct to publisher relationships and fewer partners enables brands to have a better control over where their advertising is appearing to ensure it is brand appropriate.
Mobile, Mobile, Mobile: There will be a continued acceleration towards a mobile-first world as mobile traffic continues to explode. In addition, the growth of wearable technologies will help reinforce the growing pre-eminence of mobile. All ads must be created with the mobile audience and experience in mind. Mobile means not only a smaller screen, but an inherently different way of searching for, consuming and interacting with content. Mobile video in particular must be seamless and not disruptive to the viewer's browsing experience, with close attention paid to length of ad, image scale, font sizes and how ads stream to the user.
Online Rivaling TV as a Branding Medium?: John Lewis’ decision in the UK to air its latest Christmas ad online 36 hours before it was shown on television is indicative that digital is proving itself a medium to deliver audience at scale for brands – something that was once purely the domain of television. Fragmented TV audiences, the growth of mobile as the screen of choice for media consumption, the ability for online sharing and the immediacy of digital metrics to determine the attitudes of consumers means we may well be seeing a sea change in how brands are approaching digital.
Jenn Vlahavas, VP of Account Strategy
Viewability: As marketers continue to leverage viewability as a key campaign performance metric, they should consider moving away from a simple 'percent of impression' model to a cost-per-viewable-impression (CPVI) approach. A partner that measures at 45% viewable at a $3 CPM provides a greater value to a marketer than a partner that drives 65% at a $7 CPM. As the measurement landscape grows, we need to ensure we're examining the metrics in a way that truly measures the impact of marketing dollars.
Eric Picard, VP of Strategic Partnerships
Internet of things: Smart watches, new wearable technologies, data collection of human behavior, thermostats, interactive surfaces on kitchen appliances and other consumer devices will all extend the data footprint of consumers as well as creating the opportunity to develop advertising footprints.
Blurring lines between RTB and direct: Media Buyers will be able to fluidly mix budgets and optimize spend across RTB and direct buys.
Edwin Lee, VP of Global Retail
Cross-device targeting: Mobile and cross-device will become mainstream. Q4 2014 will see lots of data around mobile and tablet with many retailers having mobile and tablet optimized sites. The actual buying of things will be shifting to mobile/tablet where traditionally people bought on desktop.
Attribution: Retailers are becoming smarter about cross or omni-channel measurement. They will continue to reach for the truth of their measurable/addressable media against my online and offline sales.
Marketers as techies: As more and more budget shifts towards digital, marketers must become more tech savvy and understand the ins/outs of data/tech to drive business outcomes.
Marketing centered around tech: Marketing departments need to re-engineer for new business processes focused around technology. People, processes and technology need to come together to drive marketing.
Puneet Mehta, CEO
To date, all of the focus has been placed on generating the click, with little to no attention paid to the post-click experience (which today is a generic mobile site with no clear CTA at best). In 2015, brands and agencies will seek to drive engagement and conversion beyond the click by optimizing landing pages for mobile consumption and consumer action. In 2015, we will also see an increased focus on user context in mobile advertising, with brands experimenting with weather, location, traffic and other situational factors to drive conversions through relevance.
The emergence of ad networks in the physical world. Beacons will open the door for new OOH [out of home] advertising platforms. Brands will bid on the rights on advertise to a person based on their precise location, through Beacons, via third-party apps and brands with a physical presence (stadiums, retailers, restaurants, hotels, etc). These new "advertisements" will need to move beyond simply offering a discount (i.e. getting an offer from a shampoo brand in the beauty aisle at the grocery store) as consumers increasingly have offer fatigue. Instead brands will bid for the right to engage through rich content that ultimately motivates behavior. CPGs [consumer packed goods brands], for instance, will bid for the right to suggest a recipe for dinner tonight in the pasta aisle.
Tony D’Anna, CEO
Email will continue to have the highest ROI of any digital marketing channel. 2015 marks 37 years since the first commercial email, but despite the lack of headlines, innovation still continues in this space. Email is adapting to and is energized by the mobile macro-trend. It is becoming more dynamic, using device type and recipient location, and more personalized, based on past-user behavior and enriched demographic data. Marketers must not overlook the importance of email as a key, if not central part of their marketing strategy. Email may be heading towards middle age, but it's still the marketing breadwinner after almost 40 years.
Mike Sands, CEO
The year of cross-channel experimentation: Study after study shows that orchestrating marketing activities across channels is a top priority for brand and agency marketers around the world. But there’s no silver bullet for keeping up with perpetually-connected customers as they move between smartphones, laptops, tablets, stores, call centers, kiosks and more.
The marketing technology ecosystem starts to separate: Modern marketing is defined by complexity. Marketers operate in a tremendously sophisticated and fluid environment defined by a multitude of touchpoints, tools, data, and suppliers. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of steps from ideation to execution, all assisted by numerous technologies.
Identity becomes the key to cross-channel: In 2015, marketers will focus on the ability to connect customers as they travel from smartphone to desktop to store to call center – not just for tracking customers, but to build rich profiles of their likes, behaviors, purchase histories and loyalty status.
The year of first-party data: 2015 will be the year that marketers make first party-data their top priority. For many years, marketers relied too heavily on third-party data. It was convenient to buy tons of data, though it wasn’t cheap. And the practice inspired some bad habits among advertisers, who assumed that the data was fresh and true, and targeted their ads accordingly.
Programmatic moves beyond display: 2015 is the year that programmatic becomes the norm for marketers. And it’s going to be everywhere, literally, from mobile and video to television and billboards.
Mobile is on the move: Another year, another “year-of-mobile” declaration. But this isn’t the screen that you used to know. The latest advancements in mobile technology now have mobile devices interacting with physical spaces through beacon technology and financial systems through mobile payments systems, such as Apple Pay. As mobile is no longer self-contained as a channel, 2015 will be the year the mobile scope widens and the savviest marketers will jump into this brave new world of data opportunities.
Personalization will take center stage: Consumer expectations are rapidly shifting to a cross-channel, personalized, real-time world. Consumers have quickly grown accustomed to streaming video providers that remember where they’ve left off when they switch between a laptop and tablet, airlines that notify them of upgrades or impending flight delays on their phones, and stores that allow shoppers to place an order online and then pick up the items in a brick-and-mortar store just down the block.
Data Co-ops will thrive: The ability for two or more separate businesses to collaborate and drive better measurement and personalization is set to grow in 2015 as concerns around privacy, data leakage, and security are addressed by enhancements in technology platforms. With these concerns abated, data co-op strategies will move to a level of detail not seen before.