It is remarkable to consider that the first banner advert appeared some 26 years ago and that for many years online advertising was relatively simple, in that banners and text ads were the primary ad solutions at the disposal of online advertisers.
True innovation in the online advertising space came about with Ad Exchanges and even more so from Facebook, which introduced advanced targeting capabilities and additional ad formats that fundamentally changed the online ad landscape.
As a result, almost all major digital media vendors now provide a range of link, video, lead, and other outcomes-orientated ad formats. In addition, innovative means of buying have evolved from classic CPC and CPM to cost-per-outcome formats like Cost Per Landing Page View or just about any other defined action.
As consumers have adopted digital media and their digital footprint has come to include multiple devices across a range of sites and platforms, marketers have had to face a range of challenges, including targeting, frequency and attribution, to name a few. This has given rise to Marketing Technologies that aim to streamline critical elements of online advertising management, thereby making digital marketing efforts more efficient and delivering a solid return on investment (ROI).
With all this in mind, it is clear that online advertising has come a long way, especially in the last few years! By all accounts, the rate of change in this arena is only likely to accelerate as digital buying of traditional ad formats and innovations including Augmented/Virtual Reality (AR / VR) solutions bring about new reach and engagement opportunities.
Advertisers are benefiting from increased online audience numbers with ever-improving means of reaching and engaging audiences across new platforms with more pointed and engaging ad solutions. Whilst advantageous for advertisers, the increasing number of opportunities bring about added complexity to the management of digital advertising.
The challenge for the modern marketer is forming, implementing, and optimizing advertising strategies across the evolving, fragmented, and complicated advertising landscape with limited resources. While some vendors have developed helpful ad management tools to overcome these challenges— ranging from Facebook’s guided ad campaign setup tool through to Google’s AdWords automated Machine Learning-based optimization recommendations—marketers are having to split their efforts across multiple incongruous platforms.
Adding complexity to the digital Ad Management mix are heightened concerns regarding privacy that have led to major platform privacy initiatives including Apples Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) and the recently announced initiatives by Google to making third party cookies obsolete within the next two years. These initiatives have been received by the marketing community with concern regarding their impact on online advertising fundamentals such as targeting, frequency management and attribution.
Competition between the major players in the digital media vendor arena has resulted in “Walled Gardens” of closed data and technological ecosystems among the major players like Google and Facebook. These ecosystems add further complication for advertisers as they inhibit the ability to manage all media channels in one place with great efficiency.
In the aftermath of major transactions in the media space over the last two years like AT&T’s acquisition of the AppNexus (programmatic exchange) and Amazon’s acquisition of Sizmek (Ad Serving), the outlook for “Walled Gardens” is to increase in number in the future.
The rise of Marketing Technology platforms has resulted in the coming of age of advanced solutions that lead to more effective advertising across the digital media landscape. Ranging from Campaign Management solutions to Data Management Platforms and even Dynamic Creative solutions that, along with other solutions, can be bound together in a modern marketing technology stack, designed to deliver unparalleled contextual relevance to consumers whilst delivering considerable performance improvements.
Fortunately for marketers, advanced technologies that empower effective online advertising management have evolved to suit the complexity of the online advertising landscape. These range from digital media buying and optimization solutions like Opteo (Adwords Only) and theTradeDesk (multichannel programmatic) through to advanced Cloud Advertising Management solutions which are now on offer by all the major MarTech companies including Google, Adobe, Salesforce et al.
Adopting these technologies bring about challenges in themselves when it comes to on-boarding and the integrations required to stitch all data and activity together, especially in cases where multiple vendors are integrated to form the optimal marketing technology stack based on the organizational requirements.
Research executed in 2019 by IDG & Resolution Digital (Omnicom) highlighted that as organization progress in their digital maturity they adopt more technologies and incur increased costs, in doing so, but realize increased ROI from their overall marketing activity as a result of their Marketing Technology Stack. The research went on to highlight that those organizations that partnered with platform specialists for guidance in identifying, adopting and operating these technologies realized positive returns considerably faster than those who did not.
Ultimately, there is no single ad management solution that caters to every organization’s unique ad management requirements. As a result, most organizations adopt a hybrid approach the includes a range of platforms and technologies which, when combined, make for the most efficient solution for their unique needs.
To realize efficient future state advertising management, marketers need to have a clear understanding of human and technological resource requirements, adopt an agile approach that includes testing innovations and working with experienced partners.