by columnist James Green
The digital marketing industry is experiencing a major transformation.
The current state of digital is directly tied to data. Data are everywhere, informing marketers about audience interests, consumer intent, and device activity.
As mobile use continues to increase and media is progressively being bought programmatically, consumers expect a seamless and entertaining online experience.
With marketers and their agencies well underway with planning for the year ahead, here are a few trends that likely will be top of mind in 2015.
1. Big Data Will Become Bigger
Companies are sitting on massive amounts of analytics related to sales, purchase history, search activity, site interactions and more.
While this data is valuable, any single data point taken in isolation can give you a very warped view of the customer.
Linking data together and leveraging a historical trail of data points allows you to obtain bigger insights into what your customers are looking for and where they are going next.
The world of big data gives marketers the most complete obtainable customer profile, which informs audience strategies, smarter media buying and creative decisions.
Big data will only become bigger and bigger as data sources are combined.
2. First- And Third-Party Data Will Be A Hot Topic
Within the world of big data is the combination of first and third party data sources. Brands will be retargeting customers based on their buying patterns, combining their own customer data with intent data from around the web.
Marketers want to know when their customers are in market for a good or service so that they can sell to them before they visit a website.
Incorporating data from social, location, search and site will improve the ability to attract customers at multiple stages of the consumer funnel, improving and optimizing your retargeting strategy for both prospecting and retention.
3. Automation Will Continue To Increase
Eventually, all media buying will become automated.
The swapping of insertion orders will be replaced by systems that seamlessly communicate with each other to reduce the duplication of work and improve accountability, measurability and efficiency.
The more interesting trend to watch will be how much media will switch to RTB. Over time, it’s likely that 100% of direct response advertising will be bought in real time; but how far up the funnel this trend will go remains to be seen.
There will always be a place for Super Bowl ads and other high-impact units on high-impact sites. However, these ads will be bought where there’s a large audience and will not be based on individuals, so they won’t be bought through RTB.
That said, over time, more and more advertising is going to be bought in real time, even TV.
4. Ad Fraud Will Still Be A Concern
Ad fraud won’t be much more than a blip on the road to RTB dominance. There are many companies and organizations fighting it.
Fraud, or suspicious activity as it’s sometimes euphemistically called, is simply a duplication of what happened to search at the turn of the century.
Search was easier to control because there was really only one provider (Google), and they fought it directly.
Now, fraud is recognized to be 5-10% of all search clicks. Display fraud is more complicated because of the large number of players in the space: publishers, ad servers, Supply Side Providers (SSPs), Demand Side Providers (DSPs), ad exchanges and other intermediaries.
As of now, there are a myriad of providers that can help, and only the reckless few don’t use these tools to avoid fraudulent activity.
Unfortunately, there will never be a real “crackdown” on fraudsters because these players are based in countries where these activities are not necessarily illegal. So, chasing them down seems unlikely to happen.
5. The Need For Personalized Advertising Will Grow
The opportunities for personalized advertising will continue to grow as the adoption of apps, location based advertising and dynamic creative optimization (DCO) increases.
There are so many data elements available to advertisers, enabling them to transform generic advertising into relevant marketing in real time, regardless of their device and location.
We will see this trend continue into 2015, as purchase, product level and search activity are used to predict consumer intent and therefore, inform which ad to show, and when, as well as what creative elements should be optimized within the ad itself.
In 2014 we witnessed new platforms, channels and technologies that led to major shifts in the industry and positioned data as the main ingredient for finding, reaching and engaging customers.
The biggest theme of 2015 will be “big data” as we see data sources coming together to create meaningful 360-degree customer views and actionable analytics that inform and even transform your marketing strategy.