Brand safety and context have become “more important” considerations than cost when planning media campaigns, according to WARC’s Marketer’s Toolkit 2020, a finding which highlights the fact that programmatic advertising is at a crucial moment in its development.

Seven in ten (72%) advertisers in a global survey by WARC agree that cost is now taking a back seat to other factors in media planning, while half feel programmatic has failed to live up to its potential, citing brand safety and ad fraud concerns.

Cheryl Calverley, Chief Marketing Officer, Eve Sleep, points to another programmatic-related issue: “Whilst you might harvest a sale tomorrow, what you can’t see in your data and see in your numbers is the number of customers that have been, quite frankly, annoyed by your programmatic.

“Until I can find programmatic execution that is quality and delivers a quality environment, I will really struggle with it,” she says.

The return of context

These concerns around programmatic audience targeting mean that media owners have revived their case for the benefits of context, but they need to do more.

Mark Wagman, Managing Director, MediaLink, argues that “in a real-time world, a marketer must again prioritise targeting based on the consumer’s environment –whether text, sound, sight or motion”.

“Publishers and content owners must make operating against an understanding of contextual relevancy easy and painless,” he adds.

A deep-dive into the Marketer’s Toolkit chapter on Technology suggests that the emergence of connected TV is bringing a renewed focus on context and will create new opportunities in the programmatic world. The ability to blend television’s mass reach with data-driven precision targeting is enticing but the report cautions that there are not yet any settled standards and formats.

Nor is it just connected TV that offers new opportunities: the automation of traditional media channels also includes online audio streaming services and digital out of home (DOOH); media owners argue that these nascent addressable channels do not suffer from the same challenges facing digital media.

For many marketers, the most interesting opportunities will arise when TV companies and OTT providers can dynamically insert tailored and targeted video ads into live television streams. For now, however, brands are focused on simply testing the water.

“We’re making a fairly big bet next year on streaming TV,” says Jill Baskin, Chief Marketing Officer, The Hershey Company. “We’ll be looking at some of the biggest streaming services, like Roku or Hulu, but also upstarts like Samsung. We’re going to place our bets in multiple places and see what’s the most effective.”

Among the other themes highlighted in the Technology chapter of the WARC Marketer’s Toolkit 2020 are:

• A new approach to ad tech for many brands: a third (34%) of respondents to the WARC Marketer’s Toolkit survey said they are looking to bring more ad tech and programmatic buying in-house.

• Artificial intelligence (AI) remains a big focus for brands as they battle to make sense of, and then apply, the many data sources at a marketer’s disposal.

• There is growing interest in enhanced payment technologies, reflecting the growth of e-commerce, particularly in Asia. With the rise of mobile payment apps, brands are having to evolve their payment strategies to meet consumers’ evolving payment expectations.

• Voice remains a minority pursuit, and AR/VR will remain niche. The wave of interest in wearables and facial recognition has largely receded. Marketers remain unconvinced by blockchain, and just 13% expect to invest in it in 2020.

WARC’s Marketer’s Toolkit 2020 is centred on a survey of almost 800 client and agency-side practitioners around the world, combined with insight from a series of interviews with Chief Marketing Officers, backed by evidence from WARC Data, case studies and expert opinion. 

The report is available to download here: it covers five key drivers of change: society, tech, economy, industry and policy. A deep-dive into each of the five chapters including more on Technology, for which WARC has collaborated with sister Ascential brand  MediaLink, is available to WARC subscribers.

A free-to-attend event to discuss trends from the Marketer’s Toolkit will take place in New York on 12 December. View here more information on the event, speakers and register to attend.

Sourced from WARC