Adtech 2020 predictions: Regulations, crumbled cookies and 5G

Paige Murphy
By Paige Murphy | 17 December 2019

Adtech in Australia is about to get a makeover following last week’s announcement that the ACCC will start an inquiry into the digital advertising tech supply chain, focusing on digital display ads.

This follows on from the consumer watchdog’s inquiry into Facebook and Google which saw the federal government announce plans to introduce a binding online privacy code into the Privacy Act.

Overseas, California is also preparing to launch the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) which has already influenced a number of vendors based in Silicon Valley and the products they are offering both in the States and internationally.

As privacy ramps up, there have been many discussions on what future lies ahead for the cookie with some arguing it is crumbling and others saying it is facing an “identity crisis”.

In previous years, adtech had been tainted by the likes of fraud and bid caching but this year saw vendors band together to promote transparency and the open internet, while taking on the walled gardens.

While many are still around fighting, one of the biggest news stories of 2019 was independent buy-side platform Sizmek filing for voluntary bankruptcy in the US before being snapped up by Amazon shortly after.

The shining star of 2019, which some believe will continue to carry the limelight in 2020, is video.

The growth in connected TV (CTV) and over-the-top (OTT) saw the industry seek to capitalise on it with the launch of new products, expansion of current offerings like Pubmatic’s unified platform or in some cases make new acquisitions like Xandr with Clypd.

With 2020 lurking in the shadows, AdNews called on senior industry members to share what they predict will be the biggest trend for the year to come.

IAB Australia CEO Gai Le Roy
I see three key areas for our industry in 2020. The first is that marketers will shift their focus and investment from refining and automating their media channel planning and assessment, towards developing killer creative and optimising for the variety of environments and platforms that they use. Secondly, after a very tough 2019 in terms of budgets, I’m expecting to see innovation from both media and marketing alike as creative thinking surfaces some new approaches and products in market. Finally and perhaps most importantly, industry and government will urgently have to work together in 2020 to find the balance in data privacy, respecting consumers without thwarting innovation.

PubMatic regional director ANZ Peter Barry
2019 was all about transparency – of supply, demand and fees. This will always be important, but it feels like we are coming out the other side of the fog. 2020 will bring fewer, deeper partnerships between tech vendors and buyers/publishers, driven by the desire for a clean media supply chain. This means the barrier to entry will be higher, which will lead to consolidation toward the end of the year. In Australia, header bidding will bring its well documented upside to the video space, and through a more global lens we will see further pressure on walled gardens to change their ways (Sacha Baron Cohen’s speech was fantastic).

MediaMath VP partnerships & country manager ANZ Yun Yip
We’ll see more companies address some of the unintended consequences that adtech’s rapid evolution has thrown up; consequences like fraud, privacy issues and poor user experience that threaten to overshadow the benefits of technology-enabled marketing. We’re already seeing change. My own company has already reengineered our entire supply chain to create an accountable, addressable and transparent environment. I’d expect to see other players follow suit. A cleaner supply chain fuels growth for brands and content owners which, in turn, incentivises a healthier digital ecosystem for everyone, as well as providing an alternative to the “black box” opacity of walled gardens.

Quantcast managing director APAC Andrew Double
Following GDPR in Europe, CCPA in the US and the ACCC Digital Inquiry, 2020 is shaping up to be Australia’s biggest privacy moment in recent memory. Next year, Australian companies with consumer-first privacy policies will have a competitive advantage. There’s already a race to find the best solution and the brands that will win are the ones that have planned ahead, and have a track record of privacy-by-design. The ACCC is aiming to create much needed, drastic changes however major disruption to the business models of the likes of Facebook and Google is not going to happen overnight. To provide more choice for the industry, we’ll see further collaboration between advertisers, publishers and first-party data providers.

Impact APAC managing director Adam Furness
In 2020 we will continue to see a shift in how people choose to discover, and ultimately purchase, products and services. Consumers are becoming numb to traditional selling and advertising which means that businesses must look beyond traditional sales and marketing strategies. In addition, media fragmentation and the fact that almost all new digital ad dollars today go into just two companies makes it harder and harder for brands to connect with consumers. This means the ‘Chief Growth Officer’ role will require a greater focus on new partnerships, alliances and channel opportunities to drive top line revenue.

Taboola founder & CEO Adam Singolda
Next year, we’ll see brands reprioritise what matters most: profitable growth, not just growth for the sake of growth. Historically, growth has meant spending more to build market share on the hope that market dominance will eventually translate into pricing power and eventual profits. But that model will shift. As the cost of user acquisition continues to grow, 2020 will see marketers place a greater emphasis on loyalty. Mary Meeker cited this in her last Internet Trends Report (, noting customer acquisition costs might be 'rising to unsustainable levels'. Building long term relationships with consumers, learning how their affinities for things ebb and flow, and delivering constant improvement in marketing messages will be key to 2020 business success.

Oracle Data Cloud regional director AU & NZ June Cheung
2020 will be the year where brands move beyond the foundational metrics of viewability, fraud-free and brand-safe media inventory. The ecosystem will evolve to understand how effective media was in capturing not just eyeballs but consumer attention. Moreover, brands will begin to demand the ability to measure attention in environments such as Connected TV, Audio and Digital Out of Home.

Lotame managing director ANZ Luke Williams
The demand for transparency and trust in advertising has a direct impact on how marketers work with and buy data. Ten years ago, audience-based data targeting was novel and attractive. It created value out of remnant inventory for media companies and more actionable online inventory for marketers. This novelty drove interest, which drove the need for scale. Today, we’ve seen a shift from scale to “quality” — who’s the provider, how do they source, data accuracy, recency, and more. With GDPR, CCPA and privacy crackdowns, a quality-first approach is good for consumers and good business — and the future of our industry.

Rubicon Project country manager ANZ Rohan Creasey
We see 2020 as the year when marketers will embrace adtech vendors with established open and transparent omnichannel technology instead of vendors with proprietary systems. I also see encouraging signs that the Australian advertising ecosystem will work more collaboratively to develop standardised identity tools that function as a community asset.

GumGum SVP global commercial development Adam Schenkel
Contextual advertising, the centuries old way of reaching relevant audiences by placing an ad next to brand or product related content, will continue to enjoy a renaissance – boosted by technological advances in sentiment analysis. The shift towards mobile advertising has strangled the effectiveness of the cookie, which along with GDPR, consumer data privacy concerns and a renewed focus on user experience, means brands are seeking alternate methods of targeting consumers. Contextual advertising is now highly sophisticated thanks to the use of AI-driven natural language processing (NLP) sentiment analysis across both image and text. This has the potential to open up highly valuable inventory and drive real advertising ROI for brands whilst delivering a positive user experience for consumers.

Xandr senior director, market development JAPAC Samuel Tan
As government regulation of consumer data becomes more prevalent (GDPR, CCPA and perhaps what is to come off the back of the ACCC recommendations), cookie-based targeting and re-targeting will be significantly challenged. Against this backdrop, a golden age of contextual advertising is likely to emerge as advertisers go back to the basics in order to reach audiences in premium, brand-safe environments. This is a real opportunity to present more relevant advertising to consumers, as advertisers marry messaging and positioning to environment, rather than relying on cookies to follow a user around the internet. In parallel, publishers and broadcasters will double-down on building / growing their signed-in audiences. In doing so, they will develop a better understanding of their users’ preferences, serving more compelling experiences which will drive greater visitation and engagement, and greater value for advertisers. This content-driven virtuous cycle will help maintain an open internet.

Verizon Media head of platform sales Andrew Gilbert
Identity, trust and control for consumers’ first-party data will be the underlying challenge throughout 2020. This isn’t just about determining a consistent way of identifying people in mature digital channels, but also extending that to emerging formats like audio, DOOH and connected TV to give a full view of the customer. The market will shift away from technology platforms which are trying to build highly complex identity solutions but are falling short, and move towards those with a consistent first-party identity layer underpinning all their capabilities - i.e. companies with memberships and login details. This will future-proof the marketing investment of brands for the future.

Near co-founder & chief revenue officer Shobhit Shukla
2020 will see personalisation of consumer experiences reach a new level. Businesses will utilise data enriched with spatial, temporal and behavioural attributes across online and offline consumer touch points to create compelling physical and virtual experiences. Data-as-a-service will go mainstream driven by adoption from various app economy publishers and retailers to drive better consumer acquisition, retention, product offerings, and measurement of various customer-centric projects. As modern consumers consume media in a seamless manner across multiple channels, we will see brands including Digital OOH, Connected TV and OTT TV advertising, along with their existing advertising channels, as part of their omni-channel marketing efforts. This will drive adoption of programmatic advertising practices across most channels and formats with improved media effectiveness measurement across online and offline channels in an integrated manner.

The Trade Desk director of business development ANZ Stephanie Famolaro
As we look towards 2020, brands will want to drive more value and will either explore or expand their work in programmatic. Efficiency, transparency and ownership will be major drivers of this change – doing both more and better work with less. In that context, customisation will come to the fore: brands want more bespoke approaches, and; agencies want to scale solutions across their portfolio. The key question for all advertisers will be what is happening to TV? Viewers aren’t disappearing, they are just accessing content online. The measurement and efficiency brought by Connected TV will accelerate the growth of programmatic this year, particularly as viewers look to watch the Olympics anytime, anywhere.

Amobee head of sales and client services Andrew Dixon
Agencies will lead the conversation on the convergence of linear + digital video. Broadcasters have been leading the TV-digital convergence for three years, and this year they’re making strides with the introduction of VOZ and the announcement of a unified BVOD buying platform. In 2020, media agencies will take the lead to represent the needs of the buy side by breaking down the traditional silos between trading desks and TV investment teams by building out their own Converged TV capabilities.

This is Flow managing director Jimmy Hyett
2020 will see the demise of the media channel. An old school and outdated methodology that’s mismatched to an evolved future of media consumption. Technology and data fed content has reshaped the way our audience consumes content, with traditional channels unapologetically claiming other channels as their own. TV streaming on desktop and mobile, radio bundling podcasts and smart home devices, print selling its own online replacements and digital, everything is digital. The approach to media will receive a much-needed reboot, and intelligence will overthrow tradition for those brands and agencies who don’t want to be left behind.

WP Engine country manager ANZ Mark Randall
In 2020, consumers will happily hand over their data to companies who promise to build personalised digital experiences unique to them. Consumers are becoming more comfortable sharing their personal data with companies. In 2020, Gen Z will control 40% of global spending power, meaning marketers will have to adapt if they haven’t already. We recently published a report that found 45% of Gen Z will provide data to prioritise a personalised experience over privacy. Another recent study found that 90% of consumers expect good value in exchange for the data they share with companies.

Criteo ANZ commercial director Colin Barnard
Due to rapid shifts in technology and the number of distribution channels, marketers must evolve or perish. While Australia has always been a low app market, this is changing, and if marketers don’t incorporate apps into their omnichannel strategies, they’ll fall behind. More and more, apps are offering superior experiences and far better re-engagement than mobile web, a trend that influenced the launch of Criteo’s App Install ad solution this year. And blended with the right balance of AI and Machine Learning, and greater risks in creative design (e.g Augmented & Virtual reality), marketers will stay ahead of the curve.

Switch Digital CEO Lee Stephens
There are some major “OH GOD!” moments around the corner. Let’s talk 5G for starters with speeds of up to 30x faster than a top speed NBN100 plan. Don’t think mobile data speeds, think wireless home broadband. The whole fibre to the home debate is yesterday’s news. It’s happening now and the carriers all have their pricing and packages in-market. What happens when data gets faster? Consumers move in droves. In June 2019, Australians consumed the equivalent of 17,699 years of Netflix or HD Connected TV cumulatively, up 25% in just one year. Like Blu-ray, the NBN may be just a $60B transition technology.

MiQ CEO ANZ Jason Scott
Within the industry connectivity will play a huge role in 2020, with Digital Out of Home and Connected TV likely shifting from its emerging-technology status to utterly transforming the way traditional media is thought about. For consumers, 2020 will be the year 5G becomes a reality. Our research shows that as a result, connected devices, wearables and voice technology will become more deeply rooted in the way consumers interface with brands and platforms. As technology becomes more entwined with our daily lives, we’ll see a greater focus on company transparency and consciousness about data privacy.

DoubleVerify programmatic business director Jimmy Whitbread
In 2020, we anticipate that Australian marketers will continue to push for transparency into the quality of their media buys - beyond just viewability. Increasingly, they will demand that ads are not only viewable, but also that they are shown in an environment that is fraud-free, in the correct geography, and alongside content that does not compromise their brand's reputation. With new measures in place, clients and agencies will invest more time and resources in seeking partners who have the technology to validate the efficiency and effectiveness of their media buys, in particular partners who are able to streamline quality delivery through programmatic channels.

Tealium APJ vice president & general manager Will Griffith
In light of GDPR enforcement, and the upcoming CCPA, regions across the globe are looking to implement similar regulations regarding consumer data, with Australia being no exception. Alongside sectors that are already well regulated, such as finance and healthcare, companies in other specialisms need to be prepared for the arrival of new privacy laws and the ways these will define how their business interacts with customers. Data readiness strategies will be a key focus in 2020, ensuring companies stay ahead of privacy requirements without significantly impacting their bottom line. To do this, marketers should look to utilise Customer Data Platforms with machine learning capabilities to automate data orchestration. This will give businesses more time to focus on the real task at hand – providing a greater customer experience, planning ahead, and being ready to respond to new privacy laws.

Convert Digital managing director Andrew Waite
2020 will open up creativity and personalization for marketers with the growth in the availability of APIs to facilitate Headless Commerce. Headless commerce allows brands to disconnect the front end design from the backend, removing platform design constraints to create unique experiences. With the increase in development on headless environments we'll see; speed to market on new campaigns and initiatives decrease, an increase in a sales across new channels such as kiosks, endless aisle, apps and better user experiences across the board.

VizTrade managing director Simon Larcey
2020 will see a revolution in programmatic advertising. A cookie-less future is guaranteed as new ways to find audiences will evolve. Enhanced contextual advertising and consent will become the priority. The old saying in advertising goes, data is the new oil. Well my prediction is that data is not the new oil and in fact, consent will be the new oil. Finding innovative ways to gain informed consent from consumers and deliver permission based advertising is the future of programmatic. The days of following people around the web and third party cookies are gone.

Eyeota business development director ANZ Jimmy Aoun
With the anticipation of new ACCC legislations and IAB’s launch of the Data Label, 2020 is set to dive deeper into the realms of a cookie-less and privacy-first future. We will see a shift towards transparency and consistency and increased demand from marketers for details on how data is verified as well as standardisation of data collection practices across the ecosystem.

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