Coming off an unprecedented 2020, which forced many advertisers to shift their strategic approach to digital media planning, 2021 provided an opportunity to adjust to the “new normal” and further evaluate the value of quality media in a complex digital landscape. As we look ahead at another year of possible uncertainty, with a glimmer of hope, we can predict some trends that we’re likely to see in the new year. How will advertisers measure performance in a post-cookie world? What does the future of CTV look like? How will other emerging environments like gaming and the metaverse impact our industry? Below are a few of those predictions from DV’s VP of Northern Europe, Nick Reid; Director of Product Strategy, John Ross; and CPO, Jack Smith.
Attention Will Become the Dominant Advertising Currency
Attention metrics – such as audibility and screen touches, provide powerful new sets of data that are more predictive of an outcome – which brands can use to optimize their campaigns. Likewise, brands can achieve this without tracking consumers or requiring personal information.
The shift in focus to attention metrics, alongside advancements in areas such as contextual targeting, is the natural next step in providing advertisers with better quality inventory and stronger results. Privacy regulations and the deprecation of cookies are undoubtedly accelerating this change. However, the shift to attention as the industry’s new currency isn’t only reactive, but grows out of verification solutions. Advances in verification has continually improved the baseline quality for ads by tackling fraudsters, boosting safety, and providing brands with clarity over their ad performance.
Increased Demand for Transparency on CTV
While linear TV provides show, episode and time slot information for buyers, advertisers are forced to run CTV campaigns with minimal information. In some cases, they don’t even know what app they’re serving into. This black box is not only a measurement and targeting problem but a brand suitability problem.
As advertisers continue to move ad spend to CTV in 2022, we’ll see increased demand for transparency and industry standardization across CTV buys — and stepped-up efforts by publishers in response. Publishers on CTV have first-party data ranging from user-based data to programming information, and we’ll start to see them package this data anonymously through contextual targeting to achieve genre-level transparency for buyers.
Ensuring the TV Is On While CTV Ads Run
There’s a growing issue in CTV when the TV is turned off and ad campaigns continue to run. We tested this ourselves, opening the most popular streaming apps to see what happens when you turn the TV screen off. In many cases, for a considerable amount of time, the app continues to play and to generate impressions – not just minutes, but frequently for hours and sometimes even days. This occurs when the TV screen is turned off but the third-party CTV device (e.g., Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick, etc.) remains on. This is a growing issue that can have a dramatic effect on campaign performance, spend and measurement. To be clear, it isn’t ad fraud or a reflection of anything nefarious, rather, it’s just a common technological problem across CTV. Today, most advertisers aren’t aware of this problem. In 2022, we expect that to change.
As Social Spending Explodes, Measurement Is Now Table Stakes
“Social media ad spend is expected to exceed $56 billion by 2023, and a significant amount of that is expected to go to social video. But social media can be a minefield for brand safety and suitability concerns, with ads mixed into feeds filled largely with user-generated content that can contain misinformation or present myriad other issues. In 2022, marketers will look for comprehensive ways to measure walled gardens so that they can effectively target the most appropriate and impactful content, maximize campaign engagement, and safeguard their dollars. Performance optimization, third-party auditing and verification will be increasingly critical.
As Spend on Gaming Goes Up, Advertisers Will Demand Verification
In-game advertising is, arguably, the next frontier of digital advertising. According to eMarketer, in Q2 2021, people spent 9.0 billion hours watching live streaming video game content around the world (excluding China). This is a significant increase from 3.8 billion hours in Q2 2019. This new high follows a 56.9% quarter-over-quarter jump in Q2 2020. Advertisers know that there is a huge opportunity in getting in front of gaming audiences.
But gaming is a complex, fragmented ecosystem. Users pick and choose their preferred environments, and marketers will want to understand how they can measure campaigns in those spaces. We’re likely to see more gaming companies adopt open measurement standards to help advertisers spend dollars with confidence. As advertisers invest in the gaming space, third-party verification providers will also need to partner with inventory holders and buying platforms to bring new measurement solutions to the category.
Metaverse Interoperability Will Be Key in 2022
The metaverse will continue to have a moment with Facebook — now Meta — leading the charge. The metaverse allows you to share fully immersive online experiences and is powered by extended reality technology. Mark Zuckerberg has staked his company’s future on this new ecosystem, calling it a “Northstar” and his mission “to bring the metaverse to life.” Still, the metaverse remains mostly conceptual. It’s early days for both the technology — hardware and software — and the content required to meet the meta-opportunity. Interoperability is also key. For the metaverse to function like the physical world, virtual environments must be interconnected. It can’t be a series of individual walled gardens. While the metaverse will take years to be realized, it’s not as far away as we might think given rapid advancements in VR and AR amid the pandemic. Expect continued progress in 2022. As that occurs, like with any new channel, advertisers will demand better measurement in order to invest with confidence.