2019 Trends: Greater Accountability and Digital Advertising Transparency

Posted on December 07, 2018
By Matt Kaplan, Content StrategistContent Strategist

In 2019, we expect brands and their advertising partners to focus more on accountability and digital advertising transparency. Next year, transparency and control will be increasingly critical to everyone from the head of media buying at major brands down to advertising agencies and everyone else in the online advertising community, as issues around brand safety and lack of transparency become too big to ignore any longer.

Note: This is the first in our series on top trends for 2019. Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts all about what leading figures in the mobile advertising and marketing space think will become pervasive in the new year.

Where Marketing Campaigns and Media Spending Currently Fall Flat

Digital media companies have been rapidly embracing programmatic advertising and real-time media buying across mobile apps. According to our latest report, mobile programmatic spending rose over 300 percent between the first half of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017. And, between January and June 2018, 56 percent of all in-app ad spending was conducted programmatically.

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But, all is not rosy in this new, more automated world. While programmatic has promised greater transparency, for many brands this has not been the reality. In particular, concerns around brand safety and an overall lack of transparency have emerged as the biggest issues cited by brand advertisers throughout both 2017 and 2018.

As brands look to spend more on mobile in-app advertising to more effectively reach and impact today’s mobile-first consumers, they want to be more confident in how they’re allocating their media budgets and whether real people are seeing - and acting on - their ads. This is especially key as ad fraud rises to record highs.

These concerns are also being raised on the end user/customer side as well, which helps to explain why laws like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are shining a brighter light on digital advertising practices and approaches. From all sides, the digital advertising ecosystem is under pressure to become more transparent and trustworthy.

“I expect that consumers will continue to demand more transparency and control over adtech use of their data,” said eMarketer Analyst Yory Wurmser. “Many U.S. companies already have adopted much more transparent data policies and easier opt-outs in response to the requirements of GDPR. Companies that move slowly in creating clear opt-outs and that are opaque with their data policies will run into problems. Industry-wide, I expect more regulations (CCPA is next up), but in the long-run, it will be good for the ad industry and will force them to provide more clear value for their data use, either by providing direct incentives for data, or by making data-sharing transparently worthwhile for consumers.”

In 2019, The Programmatic Ecosystem Actually Increases Transparency

While these issues have been laying dormant for years now, they will be increasingly put to bed in the coming year. In 2019, expect everyone in the digital advertising ecosystem to put more and more focus on transparency and openness throughout the entire supply chain. So what kinds of efforts can be expected in this arena?

For starters, new technologies designed to increase transparency will come to the fore. The recent introduction of Ads.txt for in-app environments and the Open Measurement SDK are just the tip of the iceberg here. It would not be surprising to see ad tech-focused blockchain applications - which have been long on hype but short on results so far - actually make real headway in 2019.

Additionally, supply chain partnerships will continue to push these initiatives forward. While these kinds of transparency-focused arrangements were starting to make real headway in 2018, walled gardens and siloed approaches still ruled the roost in 2018. In the new year, expect openness and cross-organizational transparency to be the norm.

And last but certainly not least, all digital advertising players will increasingly put their money where their mouth is in terms of prioritizing trust and transparency. For too long, the industry has paid lip service to these values while still allowing issues to run amok. That will end in 2019.

“The biggest issue in mobile marketing today is trust. As more and more companies enter the fray, with varying levels of technology and frankly, legitimacy, it becomes increasingly difficult for buyers to ascertain what is real and what isn’t,” says Mike Brooks, Senior Vice President of Revenue at WeatherBug. “That said, as more and more advanced types of fraud are being uncovered and taught to even the most basic buyers, the advertisers in the mobile space are going to optimize their spends toward partners they can trust to not perpetrate these schemes. I think this is finally the year where advertisers start talking with their money, and moving it to people they trust and business models they understand.”

To learn more about how WeatherBug approaches in-app advertising, read our case study.

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