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Display predictions for 2015

Written by Charlotte | 12-Jan-2015 09:59:00

Looking ahead to see what the big trends will be in 2015 for those working in display.

2015 will be a big year for digital paid advertising as advances in 2014 will mature and fully develop, resulting in changes to what people will see online.

Native advertising will come into its own this year with platforms getting it right as the platforms focus on getting the right content in front of viewers.

Brands are making budgets for programmatic campaigns as the trend for duel screening increases, allowing marketers to engage with their audience in real time through different channels.

The rise and rise of video content, making sure it has impact on the right audience and on the right channel. Marketers need to listen to their audience and realise what it is they want to consume.

The cookie is under threat as new and better tracking methods are released, resulting with a complete understanding of a user’s journey.

Digital Paid Advertising in 2015

Is it really 2015? It feels like only five minutes ago that we were debating what was going to be hot in the world of digital paid media in 2014! 2014 was an exciting year, full of developments and we can’t see the pace of change slowing in 2015.

Native advertising will mature

Remember this time last year when native advertising was the talk of the town? There was buzz around the concept of going native to drive engagement and we featured it in our 2014 blog predictions.  According to the IAB, in the first half of 2014 content and native advertising amounted to £216m of advertising spend, representing a fifth of the overall UK display advertising budget. Although interest in native advertising increased, we feel that publishers and native advertising platforms didn’t get it quite right. In the rush to rival social media networks that have native nailed, publishers and native platforms forgot the key rules of making content and links topical and relevant to the user on the page, and so these native thumbnails were full of irrelevant nonsense on most occasions.

In 2014 the race to develop native advertising was run at breakneck speed without much thought about quality and relevance for advertisers or consumers. 2015 starts with providers hopefully understanding that ‘more haste equals less speed’ as they seek to make native work for all and ensure that the consumer can distinguish paid advertising from editorial content.

Programmatic takes hold

Forecasters are predicting that 70% of digital media will be traded programmatically by 2017. For many in 2014 their campaigns did not live up to the results the theory promised, but with the continuing evolution of programmatic buying and the steady increase in practitioner skills, the year ahead will see continued growth in programmatic ad budgets.

We are starting to see brands making budget available for programmatic campaigns to complement and maximise the impact of broadcast and other online activity. The increasing trend for TV viewers to use second screens while watching programmes live so they can join in with social comment has led to the development of online ads triggered in tandem with TV ads or relevant programming, further integrating broadcast and online media. Premium publishers are also contributing to this integration as they begin to make their content and audiences available programmatically. This trend will continue as marketers realise the value of being able to identify and engage with their audiences in real-time through multiple channels.

Late in 2014 Apple joined the programmatic space providing the industry with another source of valuable user behaviour data, particularly for mobile advertising. Advertisers can now plug into Apple’s data to target users based on their activity, anonymised of course, but based on their unique Apple IDs. It will take some time to get established and for advertisers to validate the opportunity it presents, but with Apple moving into programmatic, and more specifically Real Time Bidding (RTB) later in 2015, it must provide advertisers with a huge opportunity to reach their markets.

Programmatic and RTB are complex but powerful media planning and buying techniques which require specialist skill sets, experience, good analytical skills and strong media relationships in order to be fully exploited, especially when considering direct buys via private marketplaces (PMPs).  People need to be at the heart of programmatic campaigns in order to manage them dynamically and to apply human judgement to optimisations alongside software driven optimisations. As media planning evolves to include more programmatic targeting, it will be the human intervention that delivers the full potential of all channels.

Silo-screened planning days are over

After attending the IAB conference on ‘Video: The Untapped Potential’ in November, it was evident that the rise in multi-screen usage was set to change the nature of media planning and buying for good. We are in a world where screen planning will soon become consolidated into one buying process.

Clients are increasingly realising that there are other types of content that can reach audiences and are creating great online video content like these examples to exploit these audiences:

Volvo Trucks - https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=M7FIvfx5J10
Burberry Kisses - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRiZMVEIhas

They realise that video planning should become platform neutral; online video isn’t just about delivering incremental reach online, it’s about making the reach account, making your impacts impactful and avoiding that one size fits all approach in terms of device.

Advertisers still need to think about their audience and what they consume, and with the increase in connected TVs this will become all the more important. Different audiences have very different ideas of must watch content which isn’t always what would be deemed as TV quality content. An interesting example is Twitch.tv, the free online social gaming service which allows users to watch live or recorded video of other people playing video games. The platform had 34 million unique monthly viewers in May 2014 alone.

Source: http://wire.kapitall.com/

With the pan-screen planning phenomenon, programmatic TV is coming. (By the way, when the TV industry talks about ‘programmatic TV’ it is important to note that this doesn’t mean auction-based or real-time pricing, it is simply automating the transaction through software-based buying. There are often misunderstandings surrounding terminology and this could be why we are experiencing some barriers to entry from broadcasters.) Already 50% of UK homes receive their TV from a digitally connected device (9.9 million) so we are already in a position to serve ads into these devices in what the industry is calling a linear programmatic landscape.

At the moment we all see the same ad give or take some geo-targeting and Sky AdSmart activity but with the proliferation of TV channels there is a far greater need to look at distribution in order to make linear TV much more effective. An interesting fact given by Rhys McLachlan, Head of Global TV Strategies at Videology, was that 16-34 adults represent only 30% of the X-Factors  viewing volume but ITV is purely selling this age group when there is a 70% opportunity to sell this to other advertisers wanting to reach different audiences.

One broadcaster who is adopting programmatic is 4OD and the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign.  The ads showed 4OD users who were logged in a personalised ad with the name of the viewer written on the coke bottle showing just one exciting example of what could be possible.

Addressing the issues of brand safety, viewability and transparency

The varying reports within the industry of the different levels of fraud within digital advertising (Solve Media 29%, Integral Ad Science 15%, ComScore 36%) demonstrate that this isn’t an issue that can be ignored. We hope that in 2015 we will see everyone within the industry (advertisers, agencies, publishers and ad tech providers) unite behind initiatives such as the IAB UK recommended guideline that 50% of the ad is viewable for a minimum of 1 second so this standard becomes the minimum advertisers can expect.  

A reduced reliance on cookies

In 2015 the cookie could be under threat due to its inability to track users effectively as they move between devices and the rise of exciting new tracking technologies from ad tech companies. The Google stack (DCM, YouTube, GA, Google Adwords, DC Search, DBM 3rd party data sources) is cookie-based but with the Facebook stack (FBX, Facebook app and website, Instagram, Atlas ad server, Facebook audience network and the possible launch of a Facebook DSP) working ontethering the Facebook ID to the Atlas adserver, the move from cookie-based targeting to people-based targeting would be possible. This would certainly offer opportunities for advertisers, but with different implications, particularly from a privacy point of view.

Mobile has only really been useful in branding activity as it has been difficult to track activity end to end because of the lack of cookies on mobile devices. Perhaps 2015 will be the year of uniform mobile tracking, either via unique device identification (already used tested by retailers using beacons to measure changes in store footfall by phone ID), or perhaps Android, Microsoft and Apple will come together to implement a solution that can work across any mobile device, but we think this is less likely! If 2015 is the year where such technology becomes more universally available in programmatic ad platforms and via direct site buys with publishers, mobile advertising can become a measureable direct response channel alongside tablet and desktop.


It is hard to keep up with the pace of change which is what makes predicting the trends of 2015 so challenging but at equimedia we love a good challenge and can’t wait to see what 2015 brings! If you’re interested in any elements of what you’ve read, do check out our services, or get in touch with a member of our new business team.