'Bloodbath' or boon – 34 ad tech predictions for 2017

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 14 December 2016

It's a been a weird and wonderful year for ad tech in 2016 – interrupted by the collision of 'martech'. From #adblockaggedon to a slew of mergers and cash injections, there was certainly no shortage of news spanning all things ad tech and automation.

From Salesforce snapping up Krux and Adobe consuming video DSP TubeMogul, to capital boosts for Unlockd and an IPO for The Trade Desk, there was plenty of good news for the space. AppNexus’ long-awaited IPO is also tipped to happen, Pinterest added 15 ad tech companies to up its data and measurement game as did Snapchat – which now works with the likes of Sizmek and Innovid.

Other shifts saw Facebook shrug off Atlas, Moat and Integral Ad Science continue to battle and lest we forget the measurement scandals plaguing Facebook and the publishers that failed to do their programmatic homework.

Regardless of the good, the bad and the ugly in 2016 it's time to look ahead to 2017.

From extracting customer data gold to harnessing artificial intelligence and welcoming BYO algorithms and “just-in-time and precision marketing”, to fast-tracking cross-channel capabilities and scrutinising independent analytics and attribution - there's plenty afoot, and it's a mouthful.

AdNews talks to Google, Adobe, GroupM, Accenture, Salesforce, Publicis, the IAB, Criteo, Outbrain and more, to get a handle on the industry's big predictions for next year.

1. Google Australia head of media technology solutions Rhys Williams says:

Programmatic will go truly mainstream in Australia. It is no longer just a line item on a media plan, nor just a tool for performance campaigns. For the majority of advertisers, ad tech tools and techniques are an integral part of the marketers plan. What will this look like in 2017? More online video will be traded through programmatic channels than through traditional, non-programmatic channels. Data will power the planning, creative decision-making and ad buying more often than it doesn’t.

2. Salesforce APAC senior vice president Lee Hawksley says:

In 2017 we’ll see an accelerated move away from anonymous, cookie-based, scatter-gun approaches to advertising as smart marketers move towards 'precision advertising'. These marketers will leverage ad tech to pull out inefficiencies in the ad buying process and gain greater transparency and control of their spend. Ad tech will continue to drive greater real-time, on demand, in-context engagements and increase ROI on advertising spend. Streams of rich first party data will fuel these capabilities, requiring marketers to rely on data teams and next generation artificial intelligence like never before.

3. Accenture Interactive ANZ MD Michael Buckley says:

The way organisations personalise content is going to change – brands will move towards managed personalisation, with an operating model in a similar fashion to what they’ve created for content management or e-commerce operations. Additionally, more brands will create 'just-in-time' marketing, where they engage the customer at the exact moment of need and avoid wastage. They will focus on creating only content that’s needed, when it’s needed, and attuning it to the needs of interested consumers exactly in the buying mood.

4. TubeMogul ANZ CEO Sam Smith says:

We believe cross-channel capabilities will be fast-tracked in 2017 with a focus on maximising reach and controlling frequency across the entire advertising buy - across all screens and all formats. The emphasis will be on real software to deliver this, illustrated through self-service vs managed-service offerings. We will also see more scrutiny on independent analytics and attribution - correlation vs causation, cookie-bombing and last click attribution will be put under the microscope.

5. GroupM technical operations director Timothy Whitfield says:

Ad tech in 2017 will be a bloodbath. Expect a dozen new foreign companies to enter our market set-up shop, but also expect some more well known ad tech companies to retreat back to a regional support model only. The key focus for all programmatic buying companies will be 'self-service', meanwhile there will be a battle royal for the first party DMP space between all three vendors (Adobe, Oracle, Salesforce). There will be a big push for network speed as people start to equate 'latency with viewability'.

6. AOL Platforms ANZ MD Mitch Waters says:

Every new ad tech vendor into the Australian market in 2017 will have artificial intelligence (AI) including on their sales deck. Machine learning algorithms, especially around cross-device modelling, will become more prominent. We will also see increasing demand from agencies and brands for BYO algorithms. This means the major tech providers will have to quickly find a way to provide this functionality. In parallel the human element will become more important as sophisticated insights will be needed to fully leverage this technology.

7. Adobe APAC vice president of marketing Marta DeBellis says:

The emergence of technologies like AR, VR and machine learning will shape marketing in 2017 and beyond, therefore changing the way marketers can engage with customers and drive experiences. The challenge for marketers will be to learn how to create authentic content for these formats to fully leverage the opportunities they offer. Machine learning and data science offer a simpler way to get insights which will allow marketers to optimise the experiences for their customers.

8. Publicis Media ANZ chief digital and technology officer Jason Tonelli says:

2017 will be the year of ad tech action. As we have uncovered this year, 51% of Australian marketers are focused on how they can enhance the consumer experience and our belief is that ad technology will continue to be the enable to deliver better consumer experiences, but next year we will see the move from planning why to use ad tech and instead start to test, learn and evolve so that we can be more relevant to customers.

9. Rakuten Marketing Asia Pacific MD Anthony Capano says:

Advancement in technology will continue to accelerate the industry and the need for a holistic view into campaign performance will play an increasing role in order to prioritise ad spend. In 2017 we will continue to see the trend of consumer information collected by brands being used to drive creative strategies and performance.

10. Senior research analyst for programmatic strategy and analytics at University of South Australia, Nico Neumann, says:

I hope in 2017 we will see a stronger shift towards more useful automation, less smoke and mirrors and actual operational improvements (so far ad tech has largely complicated everything). I see two developments: 1) New SaaS tools replacing unnecessary manual labour and margin-sucking middlemen such as the self-service platform Blackwood Seven that automates media buying for marketers. 2) Novel solutions and applications that focus on dynamic creative and content creation, ideally leveraging smart targeting simultaneously, such as GumGum.

11. PubMatic country manager ANZ Peter Barry:

The accelerated deployment of header bidding technology across publishers. We have seen great success in this space in 2016 and we see it as key to putting ad decisioning back into the hands of publishers. The end result for publishers is that they will see the true value of each impression. This in turn will lead to significant benefits on the buy side including visibility into a much larger volume of inventory, better cookie data, earlier sessions etc.

12. Outbrain APAC MD Ayal Steiner says:

'Content marketing’ will simply become ‘marketing’ as brands shift creative gears to 'ads' that are not confined by format and have deeper storytelling narrative. Media will continue its move to ‘pull’ marketing through discovery and social rather than intrusive 'push' channels. Native Discovery will continue to flourish while programmatic CPM / pre-roll platforms will find it challenging to keep growing at the same rate. And with that digital is still, lots of fun. lets make 2017 great again.

13. Oracle Marketing Cloud APAC regional vice president Will Griffith says:

2017 is the year the data walls come down! While the walls are being built higher than ever among the world’s media giants, I predict in 2017 the walls to come crumbling down will be those currently dividing marketers, agencies, CRM specialists and IT leading to greater co-operation and a healthy uplift in sales. Modern marketers, with the help of in house data management tools (DMP), will benefit from gaining access to the pot of 'customer data gold' and activate for customer engagement and sales growth.

14. The Trade Desk commercial director ANZ Doireann Ó Brádaigh says:

2017 will be the year of omnichannel buying truly coming into its own and this will be driven by audio as we're already seeing agencies and their brands embracing programmatic audio. My belief is that we'll start to see this encourage an omnichannel buying approach across video, audio and display. As more scrutiny is applied to digital media investments, we expect to see a sharp increase in private marketplace and programmatic guaranteed activity. Brands will seek true leverage across multiple channels.”

15. Mullen Lowe Profero MD Australia Chris Henderson says:

Worldwide spend on IT in 2017 is expected to hit $3.5trillion which means we’ll continue to see companies migrating and upgrading their experience management, data management and service management platforms to cloud computing solutions. More practical applications of AI and machine learning services will be delivered which in turn will continue to evolve interface design from physical to conversational to sensorial. What has the potential to deliver the most impact is the development of blockchain technologies to improve security, transparency and efficiency across all industries. Expect something from the banks in 2017.

16. Yahoo7 director of platforms and exchanges Ben Green says:

From an M&A perspective, expect two more acquisitions between independent ad tech and larger enterprise technology companies and/or telcos. From an audience perspective, desktop ad supply will continue to decline in favour of media consumption and for the first time in 2017. This will impact programmatic display revenues. Publishers, platforms and buyers will respond to this consumer trend by accelerating their adoption of biddable and programmatically accessible native and video ad formats that performance and monetise more effectively across screens.

17. Google Australia and New Zealand head of marketing Aisling Finch says:

Creative agencies will lean into ad tech data more, and use it as a jump off point for creativity. This will allow advertisers to better capture attention and improve campaign effectiveness. In 2017, we will also see early signs of programmatic techniques in the planning, buying and optimisation of offline media (TV, OOH).

18. Criteo ANZ commercial director Pressy Sankaran says:

I think in 2017 marketers will start leveraging more real-time customer data to connect with people, rather than devices, developing consistent brand messaging and experience. Mobile transactions will continue to grow at a significant rate, as marketers continue to shift towards consumer relevant experiences. Also, attribution analysis will become significantly more important, as the complex consumer journey from path to purchase cuts across multiple channels, forcing the need for intelligent measurement and decision making for marketing dollars.

19. Sizmek Australia and New Zealand country manager Imran Masood says:

The conversations in the programmatic advertising world next year will focus on creativity, and building a connected, open ad tech stack. The re-emergence of creative rich media will bring new opportunities to brand advertisers, led by mobile and video. We expect to see a surge of higher-impact executions, once reserved for premium direct placements, move into the programmatic arena. On the data side, we expect advertisers to demand holistic, transparent solutions that handle all of their main concerns, including viewability, and audience verification.

20. Quantcast ANZ MD Andrew Double:

My prediction for 2017 is consolidation – more and more marketers are seeing the value in programmatic and are beginning to take advantage of the confluence of emerging new technologies. As we progress into 2017 we will see the consolidation of technology and data. Data and technology will combine forces, reducing wastage, and allowing us to move one step closer to getting a single view of our prospective customer, allowing advertisers to be more effective and relevant with their programmatic media.

21. Exponential head of strategy APAC Tyler Greer says:

In 2017, those who can integrate first party CRM data, online media consumption, and retail spending habits, with the goal of offering brands a more holistic view of their customers and prospects, will wield enormous power. The bringing together of these disjointed data points should offer brands greater efficiencies and more tight-knit stories. This will also hand data control over to brands themselves, allowing them to work closely with tech partners to maintain propriety over their own customer information.

22. Ve Interactive MD Ashley Wales-Brown says:

We predict more customers will utilise m-commerce with a greater focus on a unified, real-time, mobile shopping experience. Facebook and WeChat among many are both trying to use their data, keywords and retailers to provide a chat and personalised shopping service. In addition there will no doubt more discussion about attribution and methods to improve measurement and reporting.

23. Moat Inc co-founder and CEO Jonah Goodhart says:

Trust and transparency will remain key themes in ad tech as we see the industry continue to evolve.

24. AdRoll APAC MD Ben Sharp says:

We will see more ad and martech companies successfully going public in 2017. Following the success of The Trade Desk hitting the Nadsdaq in September vendors confidence will be reinstated. Prior to The Trade Desk we haven’t seen a hugely successful ad tech company go public since Criteo in 2013.

25. Louder consultant Andrew Hughes says:

Marketer and business focus on the requirement of increased transparency from all media and consultancy services providers into media cost, technology costs and services cost.

26. RadiumOne MD ANZ Adam Furness says:

Business outcomes or bust – ad tech businesses who have a differentiated proposition, solve real business problems and deliver tangible business outcomes will reign. Those that focus solely on their tech and outdated success metrics like clicks and CTRs, will bust.

27. GumGum VP ANZ Jon Stubley says:

2017 will be all about native image advertising, with advertisers opting for ad units that sit within the user flow of content consumption rather than interrupting accessing to content. FMCGs and retailers will lead the charge towards this visual web using advances in image recognition technology to deliver entirely new forms of retail merchandising. Programmatic will become more video and image driven and there will be increasing reliance by marketers on contextual targeting rather than demographic or behavioural data.

28. Datalicious senior marketing manager Daniel Dewar says:

Advertisers and brands will start delivering on years of promises when it comes to true cross-device customer experiences due to maturation in the mobile advertising ecosystem. Acquisition and personalisation remain the core areas of strategic focus for marketers. With mobile consumption (both browser and app) leaving desktop behind and with things like Google ID and People ID becoming more integrated into ad servers, mobile will see greater investment. 2017 will be the year of critical mass for programmatic mobile and mobile inventories will be revalued. The challenge around ad stack silos however will remain.

29. InSkin Media GM ANZ Matt Newcomb says:

In 2017 viewability gets serious - viewability KPIs become the norm in the briefing process. The debate gets more nuanced with discussion around how long an ad is viewable becomes more important than whether it only met the current thresholds. This is part of a wide conversation around attention based metrics, within digital at least, and more broadly programmatic TV takes off.

30. Country manager DataXu Matthew Joyce says:

Programmatic isn’t that scary – it’s about trusting your partner and asking questions. It’s going to be a second language to the ad world in the next 24 months. My prediction is that 2017 will be the year of mobile. Cross-device capabilities will put mobile into more conversations and marketers will be able to understand what is the true value of mobile in the communication to consumers.

31. Mobile ad solution Blis AUNZ MD Nick Ballard says:

As Pokémon Go showed us this summer, mobile-based location data is here to stay and it’s only going to get more powerful. With mobile users sharing their real-time location with a growing number of apps, the volume of location data available to brands is exploding. This location revolution will continue in 2017 and if brands access accurate and verified location data, it will offer marketers incredible insights into consumer behaviour and provide opportunities to optimise campaigns and deliver increased ROI.”

32. IAB Australia CEO Vijay Solanki says:

Measurement will become even more important and we will deliver daily ratings in 2017. We’ll see marketers joining the data dots to deliver more personalisation, targeting and relevance. Digital video will continue to grow and become more impactful at driving brand value. Expect to see new products and standards. Mobile technology will step up to drive the commercial value for advertisers and publishers; and VR/AR will start to move beyond the experimentation phase.

33. Signal ANZ and SE Asia managing director Warren Billington:

Brands will realise that customer data is their most valuable asset for media targeting precision, making identity resolution a business imperative. Siloed marketing systems, fragmented vendors, and the issue of short-lived cookies result in disjointed customer views that must constantly be rebuilt. To understand the customer journey, brands will seek solutions to find the connecting point between all consumer interactions, online and offline, past and present. And they’ll demand portable identity solutions to leverage matched data sets across marketing partners.

34. Unlockd CEO Matt Berriman:

In 2017 consumer choice will become more important than ever. Consumers should be able to take ads when they want them and advertising will shift more to a value exchange model. Consumers aren’t stupid and they know they are being monetised so it’s time for the industry to catch up.

35. Vice president AppNexus Dave Osborn:

The ad tech market has reached an inflection point in 2017, with advertisers and publishers looking beyond programmatic execution and instead focusing on genuine differentiation through people, process and product. Publishers are turning to open technology providers who grant them control and visibility over their data, distribution and revenue, rather than depending on competitive global media companies for short-term revenue growth. Brands are embracing machine learning, and they’ll be able to acquire, engage and monetise their consumers more intelligently and at scale on the open internet.”

Do you agree with any of these points and do you have a prediction to share? Comment below and add your views.

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