The digital media business seems to present a new innovation or disruption every six months, forcing marketers to constantly adapt to changes in the ecosystem. What does 2017 have in store for media buying? Let me get out my crystal ball. Here's what marketers will need to know about how media buying strategies and tactics will change in 2017.
Know your audience
The smartest marketers no longer guess or assume who they want to target with their ads. These marketers actually know who their audience is because they've already done deep audience discovery, using first- and third-party data to determine who is buying their products and which prospects appear the most likely to convert. There is no longer any point in a brand saying that it is after generic demographics such as women 25-54, or even supposedly unique segments like "auto intenders." Even these categories are broad swaths of audience since it's now possible to get a much clearer picture of the campaign target.
Efficiency will be the deciding factor when picking media
For marketers to get a true read on a media property, they will have to share deep audience insights and constantly perform data discovery to know which properties are worth buying. But when it comes down to audience, no partner is ever truly wrong for a brand. Time and efficiency are now bigger deciding factors in the media partner selection process. This is because every media property or vendor will have at least some of the audience the brand is after. Of course, it's not efficient to work with every media partner, so marketers must pick the ones that can simultaneously deliver the most of that target audience and convert the most efficiently.
Media will be bought on CPM. No one will care what that CPM is.
In 2017, we'll finally do away with some of the noise around ad metrics, and it's about time. Why does anyone haggle over CPMs anymore? A media buyer's job is no longer to get the best price per thousand from a vendor but to drive the lowest cost per desired outcome. We'll see brands spend budgets as large as $5 million and no longer care about how many impressions or clicks they get. Instead, the most important measurement for every campaign will be if it legitimately drove the right conversion outcomes.
IOs will still take precedence over programmatic
Right now, 80 percent of digital buying can be done programmatically, but only 20 percent of media transactions happen programmatically. For some reason, media buyers still find it easier to sign an IO and move it off their desk rather than doing a thoughtful audience deal that connected programmatically. It's actually not much more work to leverage the technology and buy the audience correctly, and it makes it so buyers don't have to explain poor performing properties to their clients.
Measurement will improve, but still leave room for more
The increase in available data and insights gives marketers more options than ever, but it also breeds confusion about what to use and what's possible. Marketers will surely measure more with each passing year, but they still won't measure enough, or even what's necessarily right. The possibilities for measurement are endless, but incorporating anything new into the current practices will prove too difficult for many marketers, meaning they won't increase their measurement capabilities nearly as much as they could.
Video becomes more holistic
Video is not confined to one device, and marketers who only buy for one screen in 2017 are missing a big chunk of their audience. To alleviate this, buying for desktop, tablet, and the living room will all become more closely associated, as OTT begins to look more like the digital video buying that marketers are used to.
Data proficiency will dictate category leadership
When shopping for a TV, consumers no longer think in terms of black and white versus color. That's antiquated thinking, as the deciding factor for a TV purchase is now resolution, not color. There's a corollary here for how marketing data analysis has advanced. Today, all marketers have a data strategy, as nearly all households have a TV set. On the most basic level, marketers can get canned reports from their ad server or DSP (black and white), and they can go further with customized reports (color). But a "color" data operation is still relying on aggregated data, and honestly, who cares about color when you don't have a clear picture of what's actually happening?
The ability to comprehend and leverage various data sets will help separate category leaders throughout the year. Marketers need to move into the high-definition level of data analysis, looking at consumer raw data, such as impressions, clicks and conversion files, and then using a team of data scientists to extract value from that information. The highest level -- the best-in-class, 4K-resolution level, if you will -- are the brands and agencies that go so far as to take data from lost bids within a DSP or SSP and begin identifying lost opportunities that can add incremental value. If some marketing teams are still thinking in black and white, those thinking in 4K will be the clear leaders in 2017.