Over the past few years, there has been an ongoing debate as to whether the "cookie" would become a thing of the past, and in the next five years, it will be. For years, websites, advertisers, and users interacted with cookies with much of the population confused as to what they actually were. Confusion regarding the difference between a first-party and third-party cookie is still common in parts of the ad community even today. If you listen to the media (non-digital crowd), cookies generally are misconstrued as sinister devices for spying, setting viruses, installing malware, or other nefarious purposes when in fact these small text files serve a very different purpose (cookies cannot install viruses or malware).
In Europe, sites must disclose to their users that they are being "cookied" and get user's permission before dropping one on their browser. For those digital marketers and site developers, the cookie has been a powerful tool to help users with their web browsing history, remember items in a shopping cart, as well as target and retarget users based on their past engagements on advertisements or products. Cookies have generally been the foundation for how digital marketers track the success (ROI) of their online campaigns.
Along with some negative press, privacy advocates, and cookie-blocking browsers and software, the adoption of mobile/tablets is rendering cookies less and less valuable for advertisers. In the mobile/tablet space, traditional cookie tracking has become limited and/or non-existent due to restrictions on their use. The overwhelming adoption of mobile devices is perhaps the largest catalyst pushing third-party cookies into obscurity due to the fact that they are largely not allowed to run "in app," a place where around 80 percent of users spend their time in mobile (according to a 2013 Flurry Study).
Expensive web design software (site-side advertising)
The front door to any business with an online presence is its website. Before a company can even start thinking about any sort of outbound digital marketing initiatives, it needs to have a quality destination for its customers to go. The homepage, product pages, and other informational elements can make the difference between a customer converting or going elsewhere. Brands that fail to update their site, refresh their content, and/or invest in a mobile/tablet experience for their customers will tend to find this negatively impacts their business. Companies just starting out or those with an established brand need to periodically update their web presence but are often deterred by the astronomically high costs of building an online presence.
According to a BusinesstoCommunity.com,
"The web design service industry is currently a $20.1B market in the U.S. alone, with more than 16M new websites added every month. More than 70 percent of these websites are created in a professional process by developers using pro-developers platforms. These B2B solutions offer tools for building advanced websites including custom design and CMS (Content Management Systems), such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. However, in order to create functioning websites, designers and developers need to manually convert static graphic design into code. On average, coding costs account for 70 percent of project budgets. Many designers simply lack the knowledge to code, or the patience, and turn to alternative coding solutions, such as Adobe's Dreamweaver software."
In this space, Adobe has long been considered the juggernaut, but it is now facing stiff competition from the likes of DIY web-design company Wix (recent IPO late 2013) and Webydo, an exciting solution targeted for designers who want to focus on being creative without all the coding. Tools like this have been very popular over the last few years and, as more web designers adopt these tools, the expensive design suites of yesteryear will fall into a marketer's peripheral unless they can adapt.
Traditional GRPs (audience forecasting)
The traditional metric of GRPs (gross rating points) has long been used by the television industry that evaluates programming based on surveys and estimates. This measurement is not only the current offline standard in television but is incredibly antiquated, especially given the shift to online digital media. Traditional GRPs are not an exact science or precise measure of performance, as GRPs quantify impressions as a percentage of the population reached rather than calculate these in absolute terms. Although there is some push to move away from the traditional GRP, it is how much of the offline market is bought and sold.
In comparison, Video DSP TubeMogul has been promoting "Digital GRPs" (see information here), which will likely be the next generation standard of digital television/video measurement (or something like it). As the worlds of "offline" and "online" media become blurred, marketers will have to bridge the way offline marketers measure digital television content streamed online and, likewise, online marketers will likely need to draw a connection to the offline world. As the world of television finds more and more of its viewers online, digital GRPs should become a new industry standard as the traditional offline marketers look to capitalize on the accountable real-time tracking online.
Vertical ad exchanges
In the past few years, the online advertising world has experienced vendor fragmentation, which tends to ultimately lead to consolidation down the road. In the past, other verticals such as ad networks have popped up, have gotten acquired, and/or have gone out of business. It is safe to assume that vertical ad exchanges will likely follow much of the same path. However, the difference with vertical ad exchanges is that there is far less parody due to the fact that many ad exchanges have very different partners and very different inventory. These niche exchanges that service exclusively verticals like mobile, rich media, video, and social are starting to gain a foothold in the space.
Not only are advertisers adopting new types of programmatic ad inventory, but the convergence of mobile and desktop platforms are also blurring the lines of how we categorize the media we use to message consumers. Mobile/tablet devices are dominating consumer's attention and becoming the primary platform to deliver video, social, display, and even search advertising. The idea of "mobile" will be a much more encompassing idea that includes all the ways to message consumers on their mobile devices. The idea of "social" or "video" will likely be just another ad format for use in this mobile environment.
Ben Kunz of Mediassociates mentioned in a Digiday article, "Native advertising is a more insidious encroachment into consumer media content than any prior form of advertising. Billions of banner ad impressions may annoy readers, but they don't misdirect users by disguising the source of the message -- and this is exactly what native does. If publishers and marketers aren't careful, they are going to poison the well of digital ad communications by breaking consumer trust."
While I do not take as adverse of a view of native, I do believe that its use will not be in the same form five years from now. While these ads will continue to exist, the native ads that blatantly misdirect users will come to an end due to likely self-regulation practices and the fact that these ads lower the stature of the sites that use them. The native advertising of the future will look very similar to how Facebook currently leverages its page post ads. These post ads make it clear that they are ads, but also include valuable content for the reader. Readers will understand the content they are viewing and not feel misdirected by disguised content. These new native ads will rely much more heavily on the editorial board of the respective sites and likely be connected to social content.
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