Reach Beyond Big Tech Walled Gardens: Unlocking Unique Traffic Sources

By Uri Lichter, CEO of Intango

As the digital advertising landscape has evolved into its current form, it’s evolved into two distinct areas, both essential for marketers: the Big Tech walled gardens, and the open web. Marketers are compelled to strike a strategic balance between the two with their campaigns. As it stands, the largest tech platforms hold cumulatively 61.8% of the US ad market, with Google and Facebook alone accounted for nearly half of the market. Then there’s the open programmatic marketplace, with all of its opportunities to reach deeply engaged audiences on countless high-quality publisher sites.

The prominence of those large walled garden platforms is warranted by the massive scale they provide. But for marketers, diversification of spend is the goal, in order to unlock unique audiences, and fragmentation and transparency are top obstacles of diversification. And as valuable the biggest platforms are as partners, they’re not without some obstacles that marketers have to work with and around. For example:

Challenges with client services: Digital professionals have noted that reaching client support at Big Tech companies can sometimes take some perseverance. These companies are working to improve their services by automating client support to efficiently manage frequently asked questions and common client-side human errors, while reducing cost, though addressing system-wide bugs sometimes still require extra attention.

Data transparency improvements needed: Big Tech platforms have been known to provide marketers with limited data on their campaign performance. That’s inspired many discussions between platforms and brands. The platforms know marketers want a more comprehensive view of campaign data, and in the end, getting optimal support and data from these platforms would be a great benefit in planning successful future campaigns and optimizing their ad spend.

Navigating measurement in a changing landscape: The deprecation of third-party cookies has led to a search for new identity solutions across the industry. While achieving interoperability across platforms is a complex task, marketers continue to measure campaigns on a platform-by-platform basis. Ensuring trust and accuracy in these measurements is essential for maintaining confidence in the industry.

But, even with these challenges, let’s face it – Big Tech delivers scale and performance in a way that other platforms are challenged to, especially in lieu of identity deprecation. They have access to a wealth of data and performative inventory that is difficult to replicate. For that reason, investments in Big Tech platforms – from Facebook to Google to Amazon to TikTok – will only continue.

Between the value these platforms deliver, and industry consolidation that continues to enhance their tech capabilities, it’s sensible to expect they’ll strengthen their hold on the market. For instance, if transparency increases, let’s be honest with ourselves – it’s improbable that marketers will use these channels less.

With this in mind, advertisers should focus less on the prospect of detaching from Big Tech, and more on discovering unique, underutilized, and incremental channels to expand their reach, connect with consumers, and enhance leverage with Big Tech.

Diversification helps mitigate risks associated with broader policy changes, algorithm updates, or sudden cost increases. It also enables advertisers to access different or niche audiences, boosting overall reach and brand exposure. Moreover, exploring incremental channels fosters more comprehensive performance analysis and provokes innovation in advertising strategies overall, allowing businesses to outpace competitors and optimize ROI.

Contextual advertising, for example, can be an excellent incremental channel for advertisers. Contextual advertising will become increasingly valuable to marketers as privacy regulations tighten and third-party cookies are phased out. There are underused, easy-to-integrate forms of contextual advertising that extend beyond display ads, which any enterprise or SMB can instantly employ, ranging from in-text advertising to domain redirecting and more.

Ultimately, my take is sobering – Big Tech isn’t going anywhere. Those budgets are unlikely to change significantly, barring unforeseen circumstances. So, the focus should be on increasing leverage and developing strategies and campaigns that deliver incremental value.