The Advertising Industry Has Yet to be Digitally Transformed – Here is What the Future Looks Like

By Emmanual Debuyck, CEO, Adwanted

Advertising is going through its own digital transformation, with digital taking a lion’s share of the conversation, and recent projections on ad spend worldwide pegging digital to roughly 50% of ad spend in 2021.

We know that half of the digital ad spend is impacted negatively by fraud. The industry has remained tolerant of fraud, which impacts the smallest to largest media outlets. In fact, Facebook announced that it deleted 4.5 billion fake accounts in the first nine months of 2020 alone. Fraudsters create a fake website and represent it on an ad-exchange, where they collect the money from real ads while displaying them to millions of robots. Great inefficiencies are seen with the easy creation of these fake sites, as well as with a lack of due diligence and human error when checking for fraud.

That still leaves billions of dollars on the table, with the other 50% of total ad spend allocated to non-digital channels, creating a wealth of opportunity for brands and for the industry. The opportunity lies in unlocking the intelligence and tools media buyers, planners, publishers, and brands need to operate efficiently.

Where does advertising stand today – and where is it heading?

Today’s advertising is siloed, especially in how media buyers work. Agencies are buying ads across one or maybe two channels, and it’s mostly because of how the platforms are built.

The result is a cluttered ecosystem that makes processes more difficult than they should be.

So, what will a digitally transformed advertising industry look like? For one, media channels will be integrated and more easily accessible. By bringing together traditional media such as print, radio, and TV, and integrating these with digital channels such as CTV and podcasts, advertisers can reach consumers across the channels they use the most, in a way that’s convenient for them.

This is a necessity in a digital age when consumers are bombarded with messages daily. By making this integration across channels, also makes it easier for consumers to take action and actually engage with brands.

There are great benefits to combining channels when it comes to media buying and planning, creating opportunities for advertisers. Moving forward, we will see a unified platform that can operate across channels and ultimately make ad buying not only more efficient but also more effective for modern advertising.

Standardizing Data and Aligning Measurement

In order for media planners to effectively plan across channels, they need to be able to compare opportunities. However, many channels – podcasts, CTV, even newspapers – currently suffer from a lack of standardized data. Each media entity packages and sells its inventory differently, and comparing audience metrics is often impossible.

The future of measurement lies in actually understanding what media people are consuming, across channels. In doing so, advertisers, brands, and agencies can best understand their consumer’s behaviors and demographics allowing them to follow campaign performance and successfully optimize future media strategies. Getting to this understanding requires cross-channel attribution and reporting, which is only possible with data standardization.

Lack of transparency from media owners has created a marketplace where only highly-priced rates are displayed, which leads to misrepresentation in the marketplace. Publishers negotiate and reduce their rates, sometimes by as much as 85% from the original rate, which is an industry-known practice. This begs the question, why do they continue to limit transparency, causing feelings of distrust and misleading buyers? What is the underlying issue that is causing this practice to continue, and what can help put an end to this process that is negatively impacting the industry?

What does the future look like?

In the future, not only do practices need to change, but access to media needs to be streamlined and channels like CTV, podcasts, radio, print, and digital media need to become less siloed.

In order for this to happen, media buying and planning need to be more accessible across these channels. An enhanced and streamlined workflow can help advertisers solve problems and better understand the reach they’re providing.

While no one has a crystal ball to predict where we are heading next, we can hypothesize that an even greater transformation is underway. One that will make advertising truly digital, integrated, and measurable. It might be argued that traditional media is disappearing when in reality it’s simply reinventing itself. TV has created Connected TV. Outdoor companies, digital billboards and the radio transformed with the invention of podcasts. Most of these formats are “digital” but sold as traditional channels are – to a well-known and captive audience, driven by real content.