Marketers love to try their hand at predicting the future. But for every opportunity the future brings, there are hurdles and roadblocks that can potentially stand in the way. Whatever the trends shape up to be, it's perhaps even more important to foresee the unique challenges coming down the pipe as we get further into 2017. The marketing industry, fortunately, is no stranger to meeting the challenges of the day. Digital media has only made marketers stronger and smarter, despite the hiccups along the way. Now, the question is how to use the digital tools at the industry's disposal as wisely as possible. To get a better sense of the unique challenges of digital marketers today, we went straight to the source. Our initial story covered just a fraction of the obstacles to watch, so here are seven more challenges real marketers are talking about this year.
Being polite to the consumer
Scott Swanson, CEO, Aki Technologies
Marketers already know that mobile advertising has a bad rap with consumers, but in 2017, they will be challenged to shift that sentiment in a positive direction. Much of the issue with mobile ads boils down to poor or poorly-timed experiences, so advertisers need to craft new approaches that are more considerate of the range of experiences that happen on mobile devices.
A polite approach to mobile requires a deeper understanding of mobile behavior, but the good news is that it can be achieved without reinventing the wheel or purchasing vast quantities of new data. Instead, advertisers can take a more intelligent approach to what is already available. Through smarter analysis of data like location, session length, phase of day, and weather, advertisers will be able to determine a consumer's ad receptivity before an ad is delivered.
Predictive intelligence is already a reality -- just look to the Tesla car that hits the brakes to avoid an accident. When applied to mobile advertising, predictive analytics can significantly reduce friction in the ad experience, addressing a key marketing challenge for the new year. It's only a matter of time before it's a standard practice.
Escaping the feedback loop
Kevin Tan, CEO, Eyeota
With 2017 upon us, there are ample opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for marketers. With the recent U.S. presidential election shedding light on the inaccuracies of data and the algorithms that analyze it, marketers must strive to not be stuck in a feedback loop.
Marketers will have to learn how to adjust to programmatic going mainstream. Since digital advertising is all programmatically driven, including programmatic direct sold in a pre-auction or standard RTB, the majority of advertising pipes are now all programmatic and audience based.
Paying attention to the right data
Roy Shkedi, CEO, AlmondNet Group
Marketers will need to pay special attention to their online and onboarded offline data in 2017. It's the ability to merge and offer those data sets at scale that sets Google and Facebook apart, and digital brand marketers will need to bolster their abilities in that area to compete with the two giants in the digital advertising space. For example, an auto maker looking to reach audiences outside of Google and Facebook will need to make sure that they're working with the right online and offline data and programmatic tools for both targeting and analytics.
Consolidation is going to intensify next year as VCs are pressured to liquidate their portfolios and return funds to investors. The two hottest areas of interest will be online data and addressable TV. Digital advertising companies, along with larger media conglomerates, will look to acquire additional data assets just as LiveRamp did in late 2016 with its acquisitions of data companies Arbor and Circulate. On the TV side, technologies allowing for online driven targeting and attribution for linear and time shifted linear TV, as well as programmatic ad buying across TV and OTT, will be of great interest to agencies, who will be looking to beef up their capabilities in this area, just as AT&T, DISH, and WPP recently did with their joint acquisition of addressable TV technology company INVIDI.
Romain Job, U.S. GM, Smart AdServer
My main challenge is getting people to think outside of the Google/Facebook/Appnexus paradigm, and raise their awareness of more flexible and efficient alternatives. We would like more people to challenge us, because when they do, our technology enables us to make good things happen for their media businesses. That is especially true in the mobile advertising market. That market is now mature enough for publishers to build sustainable revenue on their own. Video ads and app-download pitches will be massive this year.
Embracing healthier advertising
John Haake, SVP marketing, Nativo
The biggest challenge for marketers this year will be to move away from disruptive advertising formats in favor of new paradigms that reinforce the sacred value exchange between brands and consumers. Traditional banners and pre-roll videos driven by programmatic technologies have poorly served the needs of advertisers, publishers, and more importantly, consumers. This has led to metrics (clicks and impressions) with zero insight into real-world business outcomes, publisher death marches to the lowest CPMs, and worst of all, disgruntled consumers installing ad blockers. All in the shadow of two monoliths that eat up almost 90 cents of every media dollar spent.
Thankfully, marketers have begun to wield power back into the hands of players that will reassert authentic audience engagement. Feeling encouraged, innovative digital publishers have joined forces and resurrected the power of immersive, vibrant content experiences in service of real business objectives of advertisers. In 2017, more marketers must adopt these healthier advertising alternatives and encourage their partners across the Lumascape (including their agencies and technology players) to support and expand them as well. With all players taking a stake in a healthier ecosystem and once again honoring the sacred value exchange, we can achieve the promise of digital this year.
Considering the context
Rich Sutton, CRO, Trusted Media Brands, Inc.
Marketers will need to face the fact that programmatic advertising is a means of execution -- not a replacement for smart ideas. Developments in the programmatic space have advanced the advertising landscape, but contextual advertising is still very important to the digital marketing mix. We want to enrich the user experience and provide an added benefit. How do we do this? With contextual dynamic targeting. Display and/or native ads that target audience and do it in the right context.
Brands and publishers should also think about working more closely together to offer content that provides value to the user, making sure content is in some way informative, educational, or engaging. It should not solely be about an advertiser pushing their wares, but rather drawing in consumers by sharing a story that they can relate to.
Bottom line: Marketers, brands, and publishers should be asking themselves, "Am I targeting the right audience?" and "How am I providing a true benefit to the user?"
Standing out from the crowd
Ramon Jimenez, VP, North America, Sublime Skinz
In 2016, the barriers to entry to becoming a one-stop shop for advertising services came down so much that it will be a challenge in 2017 for all of those serving marketers to not be tempted to go into other adjunct advertising businesses. The challenge will be to grow -- but not grow into other, already crowded spaces.
At Sublime Skinz, we get asked from buyers to do what other ad tech companies do every day: provide standard units, open RTB, etc. Buyers are offering us money to become a data provider or viewability platform. We could do or be those things. But, we say no. It's hard to stay true our core -- offering high-impact but non-intrusive ads. But often, focused and differentiated is better than big and sprawling. And there's a lot of the latter these days!