Perspective - The continued impact of the cookieless battle

By Josh Wilson | 13 December 2023
Josh Wilson.

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

2023 was dynamic as ever and there was a lot of hype and anticipation on what is to come next. Here were the recurring themes and my thoughts. 

Firstly, the prominence of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI and ML) emerged as a common thread, reflecting the industry's excitement - and need -  for these technologies. While not novel to those entrenched in ad tech and programmatic advertising, the renewed focus from the marketing sector underscores a fresh perspective on the potential of AI and ML.  

User privacy and legislation changes are still a concern here, so as much as it is exciting, we still need to have a human touch to the way we proceed with this technology. I do foresee the buzz of AI and ML cooling down as the industry starts to notice that the implementation of such technologies do have a limitation on transparency. For example, we are currently seeing such issues play out with Performance Max and Search Generated Experiences.  

Australia, positioned as a frontrunner in ad tech maturity within the Asia Pacific, showcased a distinctive adoption of sustainability in the advertising supply chain. The country's proactive adoption of sustainable practices has permeated the marketing sphere, with an increasing number of Australian brands aligning themselves with partners who prioritise sustainability in their technological endeavours. Until the industry as a whole considers sustainability as the norm, it will continue to be spoken about. This is especially so in South East Asia, where sustainability up-take is not as quick as what we are seeing in markets like Australia.  

We also witnessed the continued impact of the cookieless battle. Two prevailing camps have emerged: proponents of contextual targeting and champions of behavioural targeting. The latter staunchly asserts that first-party data is the future, though scalability remains a formidable challenge. In the evolving landscape of the marketing industry, there is a potential shift towards alternative monetisation strategies and increased ad spends, especially within walled garden platforms. This could lead to these platforms opening up their inventory to the broader open web supply, as exemplified by X (formerly known as Twitter) making its inventory accessible via Google Ads. 

As a by-product of the move towards cookieless environments, more open networks, and a heightened focus on privacy, measuring the success of digital advertising campaigns may become increasingly challenging for brands sticking to traditional approaches. Brands that adapt with sophistication, employing a variety of systems and exploring methods such as mixed media modelling (MMM) or a holistic approach to their marketing efforts, will likely thrive. It serves as a reminder that in the realm of marketing, existence is meaningless without accurate measurement. 

Lastly, the ad tech industry's talent crisis is not over, but there are signs of improvement. In 2023, the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and global media advisors MediaSense surveyed more than 1,000 advertisers, agencies, ad tech companies, and media owners, nearly half (48%) reported that the industry is facing its worst talent crisis ever. 

However, there are some positive signs. The WFA survey also found that more companies are reporting zero job vacancies. Additionally, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Australia 2022 Industry Talent Report found that the job vacancy rate may be close to peaking. 

With so much change expected in the industry, skilled professionals will be in high demand. While the number of job openings may decline temporarily as the industry adjusts, new jobs are likely to be created soon. 

At Crimtan, our continuous efforts to enhance our commercial team involve actively seeking top-tier talent. Ideally, we aspire to find candidates who perfectly align with every item on our wish list. However, the pursuit of A++ candidates has become increasingly challenging. Given the specialised nature of our work, the key lies in identifying individuals with the optimal combination of experience, skills, and cultural alignment.  

In our diverse array of roles, we particularly stress the importance of cultural fit and professional experience. While skills can be cultivated over time, recent successful recruitments highlight the value of candidates with extensive professional experience who seamlessly align with our organisational culture. And it’s these successful candidates who have informed the desire to replicate this approach across all markets we work in. This refined strategy enables us to have an abundant pool of candidates, allowing us to match the right role with the right candidate, ensuring a harmonious fit within our organisation. 

Josh Wilson is JAPAC Commercial Director at Crimtan

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