Perspective - First party data emerging as the new oil in digital advertising

By James Bayes | 14 December 2023
James Bayes.

The AdNews end of year Perspectives, looking back at 2023 and forward to next year.

What immediately comes to mind when I think back on 2023 is the Matildas’ semi-final match in the World Cup, which captured the spirits of 11.5 million Aussies, making it the most-watched TV moment in Australian history.

While “11.5 million viewers” captured the headlines, I found the breakdown to be one of the tournament’s most fascinating aspects. Amongst those viewers, 957,000 watched via 7Plus, marking a huge milestone for BVOD, which continues to lead the charge toward a converged TV future. Television audiences are fragmenting faster than anyone expected, and the Women's World Cup set a new high bar for streaming that will be challenged again at Paris ’24. 

But looking at the broader state of the market, the global economic downturn prompted several media publications to downsize their workforces. This has impacted all corners of the industry, from tech to agencies, to publishers, to content creators. But it’s this last group we should be most concerned for, as journalists continue to struggle with a funding crisis. Now, more than ever, it’s imperative to establish an effective, transparent, and sustainable advertising industry that actively supports journalism and great Australian content creation.

The last real stand-out of 2023 is how brands have finally started to move away from third-party cookies onto more modern and valuable identity frameworks. After 4 years, Google seems finally ready to do away with third-party cookies in early ’24 and smart marketers are making moves after years of hesitation and planning.  These are frameworks that prioritise targeting precision for advertisers, monetisation for publishers, and privacy control for consumers. At The Trade Desk, we have been seeing great success in Unified ID 2.0, with major advertisers and publishers like NewsCorp, Gumtree, and Australian Community Media (ACM) having already tested the framework. In 2024, we will continue to build momentum on the identity front, while spearheading the whole industry towards a fair, transparent, and open ecosystem that serves users, publishers, and advertisers alike.

As we look to 2024, the Australian advertising industry will be accelerating advancements seen on the global stage, most notably in BVOD and retail data.

At The Trade Desk, Australia is now one of our largest and fastest-growing CTV markets in the world. With all signs pointing to increased CTV investment in 2024, Australia isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon.

In the upcoming year, the dominance of streaming will further disrupt the TV landscape. Streaming platforms will intensify their challenge against traditional broadcasters, vying not just for audience attention but also for advertising revenues. While this presents exciting opportunities for brands, the decision by some to limit access of ads to certain media-buying platforms creates challenges in executing and optimising campaigns holistically.

Across the globe, retailers' first-party data has emerged as the new oil in digital advertising. For the first time, marketers can now build strategies based on actual consumer behaviour. In Australia, there's been a surge in advertisers successfully using Flybuys's retail data, and our recent collaboration with Circana has pioneered ground-breaking advancements in retail media offerings. In New Zealand, we’re proud to be partnering with The Warehouse Group and Market Media to underpin their activation across the Open Internet in what is a transformative partnership for Kiwi advertisers. 

Over the next 12 months, retail data will evolve from merely driving lower-funnel conversions to serving as a comprehensive marketing tool across all types of campaigns. Brands will have the opportunity to use both trade and brand marketing budgets to achieve their objectives in awareness campaigns and sales conversions alike.

The current economic struggles that many have felt in this past year are not lost on me. As we venture into 2024 with a similarly uncertain economic environment, the pressure on marketers to achieve results with limited resources is expected to persist.

Marketers, driven by the quest for ROI in their campaigns, will prioritise data as the cornerstone of their strategies. This will lead them to seek greater transparency, improved measurement, and enhanced optimization as they navigate the new cookie-free era.

James Bayes is VP ANZ at The Trade Desk

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