The following is a guest post from Scott Eagle, the CMO of ValueClick, Inc.
It’s no secret that the ad tech industry has been changing at an increasingly rapid rate over the last few years. As marketers look to the year ahead and consider all the tools in their arsenal, change will be coming faster than ever. Here are five predictions on the biggest changes we’ll be seeing in 2014.
1. Marketers Will Connect the Dots
Expect brands to get more cross in 2014. Cross-device. Cross-channel measurement.
Cross-device: These days the average consumer has more than three devices they use to connect, including PCs, tablets and smartphones. And many often use two to three browsers. One of the biggest challenges facing marketers is how to reach and connect with a person across all of their personal devices and screens. It’s not enough to deliver disconnected efforts in PC and mobile — the key is to reach the same person across their devices and every touchpoint. Digital innovators are already working to tackle this challenge; in 2014 you can expect to see most companies focusing real attention to this challenge and demanding real solutions.
Cross-channel measurement: Marketers are getting more and more sophisticated about how they measure and optimize digital performance. “Rules-based” approaches like last click measurement are now widely recognized as inaccurate and arbitrary. In 2014 we will see more companies getting more sophisticated in measuring the true effects of marketing activity — in understanding which sales were actually caused by a given marketing tactic. As part of that effort, you’ll see many companies demanding comprehensive sales impact measurement across all retail channels, not just online. This is a big deal because according to our data, in most categories 50 percent to 85 percent of total sales occur offline.
2. More Money for Mobile
For more than a decade, pundits have predicted that next year will be the “Year of Mobile.” Mobile has presented marketers with a considerable learning curve, and measurement — particularly cross-device measurement — posed major challenges. In 2013 mobile spending started to really take off, and we expect even more growth in 2014 as brands begin to take a device-agnostic approach to marketing. Device-agnostic means that the dollars will follow the consumer impressions — which are increasingly coming on mobile devices. Sources like ComScore are reporting that 50 percent or more of online access is via mobile devices.
Leading marketers are putting more toward mobile programs in 2014. According to a report from eMarketer, mobile-advertising spending was set to double to $9.6 billion in 2013 and leap another $5 billion in 2014. Other evidence of that likely growth: new companies and mergers and acquisitions in the space. Hey, it never hurts to follow the money.
3. Vendor Fatigue Will Lead to Less Vendor Dating and More Vendor Marriages
There’s growing evidence that marketers are becoming frustrated with the huge number of media vendors in the digital arena. It stands to reason — it’s exhausting just to look at a Lumascape, let alone choose a set of solutions providers from among the hundreds of options.
I’m convinced our business is moving from a channel-centric approach to a customer-centric one, and optimizing marketing efforts to the customer requires a few big partners rather than a dozen point product offerings. In the next 12 months, expect brands currently using point solutions to replace them with sophisticated, integrated consumer-centric tools and partners. Full stack solution providers that can deliver across a variety of channels will stand apart.
4. Big Data Will Lead to Big Insights and Drive Big Action
Expect more and more marketers to recognize that the challenge with Big Data is not in collecting it but rather in making it useful and actionable. Big data needs to lead to big consumer profiles and big consumer insights.
The rapid emergence of the everywhere, always-connected consumer places new demands on marketers, according to a new eMarketer report, “Key Digital Trends for 2014.” Consumer expectations of immediacy have raised the bar for marketers to respond to expressions of interest across the customer journey and speedily respond with a relevant offer. The only way to deliver accuracy and immediacy is if we find effective ways to gather, manage, and learn from our big customer data.
Big data will be integral to helping optimize when and how a communication reaches the consumer. Ensuring those ads show up in the right place and on the right device will be a critical task for marketers in 2014.
5. It’s Gonna Get Personal
For decades marketers have sought better ways to satisfy the needs of individual consumers. The idea has always been that by crafting a message suited to a particular person, a brand could increase their relevance — and their sales to that person.
The challenge of personalization, however, is how to do it in a scalable and cost-effective manner. And to date this has been the “holy grail” and unattainable. But solutions are now available that enable marketers to speak to millions of people on a one-to-one basis. Hundreds of leading advertisers are doing it today — by the end of 2014 we can expect that number to explode. As more and more marketers learn that there are real solutions here, we’ll be seeing personalization as an integral strategy for every progressive consumer marketing organization.
These five trends for 2014 — better attribution capabilities, major mobile growth, vendor consolidation, the auctioning of Big Data, and personalization — will all work together to bring better experiences for consumers and more successful campaigns in 2014. It’s an exciting time to be a marketer! Onward!
Scott Eagle is Chief Marketing Officer of ValueClick, Inc. Eagle has extensive experience in managing major Fortune 500 brands and in building successful new companies. Prior to ValueClick, Eagle served as Chief Marketing Officer of Empowered Careers Inc. and eHarmony.com, Inc. Eagle began his career at Procter & Gamble in marketing and new product development for its consumer packaged goods, managing brands such as Formula 44 and Chloraseptic. He serves as a Director of Akademos Inc. Eagle holds a B.S. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School.