It’s in marketers’ best interests to protect and preserve the open web by advertising on it, writes The Trade Desk’s Philippa Snare.

More than ever before, marketers are under pressure to do more with less. Every advertising pound is under the microscope. As well as interesting and engaging creative that fulfils key objectives, marketers need to be increasingly consumer focused, data-driven and able to tangibly demonstrate the success of campaigns.

With all that in mind, it’s no surprise that more and more marketers are turning to the open web. But what do the benefits of the open web look like in practice?

Huge audiences mean huge potential benefits

Growth can only be achieved by discovering and reaching new, key audiences. Across the open internet, there are billions more opportunities to reach new audiences in a more meaningful way.

Consumers now have an array of devices and platforms to choose from. In fact, 30% of UK internet users now own five (or more!) connected devices. Gone are the days when people would spend four hours every evening scrolling through social media – we’re spoilt for choice with content across so many different channels.

With key audiences bouncing between multiple platforms, marketers are able to tell a far more interesting story via the open web. For instance, starting your campaign with an audio ad on the morning radio, to a display ad on desktop during a lunch break, to an in-app ad when taking a break from work, finishing with a video ad on connected TV in the evening. This storytelling is only available via the open internet. 

Consumers live in diverse ways, and effective advertising should reflect that. 

Quantifying your success

The uncertainty created by the pandemic has meant advertisers across the board have had to do more with less. Marketers have had to rethink their approach and prove campaign success with actionable and verifiable results. With ad budgets set to be closely scrutinised in 2021, the power of data-driven advertising to aid growth has never been more important.

Indeed, the basic formula of any successful campaign is ensuring that ads are delivered to the right audience on the right devices, the right number of times. The open internet allows marketers to do just that. It also provides an array of insights into every stage of the digital customer journey – analysing which devices and browsing environments result in the most conversions.

Where walled gardens are able to choose the information and data insights they grant to marketers, often selecting metrics in a tactical way to paint their platforms in the best light, the open web offers no such constraints. This means marketing teams can truly understand what is working and what isn’t. Such insights are crucial to enable them to do more, with less. 

Data-driven integration

Marketers are constantly searching for a way to fuel their ad campaigns and help them grow at pace – and this will be particularly true in 2021, as many continue to recover from the impact of the pandemic. 

However, many remain blind to the most powerful tool at their disposal: their own first-party data. Brands are sitting on a gold-mine of insights, allowing them to personalise, customise and enhance the customer journey with smarter and more relevant advertising. 

Currently, too many brands leave their data untouched, unaware of its value. This data, however, is key to cultivating existing relationships, as well as developing new ones. Moreover, it can only be activated in a really useful and meaningful way on the open internet. 

For instance, a marketer knows that a lot of golf players buy their product, and so they adapt their campaigns accordingly. Thanks to the insights gained from advertising on the open internet, they could also discover that tennis players are a key target customer base. By succumbing their data to the walled gardens, brands are risking losing out on valuable insights which are key to long-term growth. 

Not only this but, by advertising across the open web, marketers are also able to integrate both offline and online data. Offline data, such as previous purchase history and loyalty statistics, provides a more holistic customer view that can make all the difference to any digital advertising campaign.

The new era of transparency

The open internet is home to a global marketplace of content and ideas. It empowers everyone producing that content – from journalists and broadcasters to media creators and idea generators of every type. We all benefit on a daily, if not hourly, basis from being able to access a wide variety of content and information at no cost. The fundamental quid pro quo of the internet is that consumers share data to inform relevant advertising, that pays for free access to all the content they enjoy. However, some of the biggest platforms are closed off from this vibrant ecosystem.

If too much advertising spend is funnelled into these walled gardens, publishers and content creators face a stark future – forced to either put up paywalls or cease to exist entirely. As we’ve established, the open internet is the most promising place for advertisers to find and engage with consumers – so it’s in the brands best interests to protect and preserve it by advertising on it.

Ease of marketing

For years, marketers have been drawn to the walled gardens because they provide an easy, one-step, one-click process. However, it’s now possible to activate campaigns just as smoothly on the open internet – offering the same seamless service that is just as easy to activate, but with the added benefits of higher reach, omni-channel measurement, greater insights and transparency.

The idea of activating a campaign across multiple channels may feel intimidating, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses with little marketing resource. This is why it is key to partner with trusted organisations that can offer impartial advice and support.

We all desire a level playing field for every marketer, brand, journalist, platform and publisher. In order to do this, the industry must work together to turn the potential of the open web into a reality.

With unlocked digital advertising budgets, the open web can support a diverse, multi-faceted digital ecosystem. Now is the time for marketing teams to promote a unified and cohesive approach via the open web.

Brands and agencies that are experienced in data-driven advertising have made significant inroads and shifted budget onto the open web – the change is already happening. As we settle into 2021, how will you make the most of the open web?