Venturing Into 2014: Predictions From The Investment Community

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vc-2014'Tis the season for predictions, so AdExchanger reached out to members of the venture capital community for their opinions on what's in store for 2014.

Click below to read "the bets" or scroll for more:

Jeff Crowe, managing partner, Norwest Venture Partners

  1. "Real-time" engulfs the entire marketing ecosystem. Real-time no longer just means DSPs automatically bidding on RTB exchanges. RTB is now RTA (real-time advertising) on its way to RTM (real-time marketing), encompassing all communications between a brand and its customers.
  2. The mobile app and the mobile ad merge, making mobile ads finally interesting to users.
  3. Ads that fully engage and deliver a user’s true attention break out – they go beyond being the subject of ad-tech conference speeches and explode into a hot ad unit with full transparency and viewability that all brands are talking about.
  4. Data-management platforms (DMPs) become broadly and deeply deployed by leading brands. In the meantime, the definition of a DMP becomes even more muddled, as every ad-tech vendor looks into its product bag of tricks and discovers that it, too, has a DMP.
  5. The holy grail of attribution becomes closer to reality, as the attribution wars heat up. Standalone attribution vendors see their customer adoption soaring, while existing ad platforms scramble to offer their own “good enough” attribution solutions. Meanwhile, with better attribution, brands discover the truth about the real value of search in both offline and even online conversion.
  6. After years of industry hype, some big brands actually execute four-way (display, social, mobile, video) cross-channel advertising with frequency caps in a single campaign across multiple continents.
  7. Big CRM and enterprise software companies start to actually care about all this.

And finally, the tech IPO train does not stop in 2014 and even includes a few more ad-tech passengers. Let the good times roll!

Seth Levine, co-founder and managing director, Foundry Group

A few key trends for 2014:

  • The coming wave of native programatic platforms – specifically Twitter, Yahoo news feed ads, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. We saw the power of this in 2013 with the launch of Facebook Exchange (FBX). That will continue in 2014 with the launch of other large platforms.
  • The rapid growth in focus on viewability, a significant rise in billing off of viewable impressions. We're going to see a big shift in focus here in 2014.
  • Industrywide focus on fraud. We've mostly swept this under the rug up to now; in 2014 I think we'll start to see a larger, more organized, industrywide focus on fraud and fraud prevention.
  • Ad and tech will be further split. Over the past few years we've seen the ad side and the tech side of ad tech start to split from each other with companies unbundling technology from media. I think we'll see this accelerate in 2014 and that will give rise to both further productization of ad tech as well as to more and more brands and agencies bringing ad tech in-house.

Roger Ehrenberg, founder and managing partner, IA Ventures

2014 will witness the continued explosion of all things programmatic. Agency trading desks and major brands will come to view optimal ad placement, attribution and measurement as an increasingly API-driven enterprise. Integrated value stacks will deliver cross-platform inventory, enhanced data-driven targeting, real-time bidding, rich performance visualization and everything in between. Automated content marketing solutions will also experience explosive growth as the boundary between value-added content and branded promotion becomes increasingly blurry. All of this technology will inure to the benefit of the most sophisticated brands and agencies who can fully avail themselves of these 21st century tools. Advertisers and hardcore gamers finally converge: The smartest and most tech-savvy game players – brand advertisers – will win.

Kiran Hebbar, general partner, Valhalla Partners

In 2014, I expect major growth in location-informed mobile advertising. Companies that serve in this category have the technology to build audience insights from location analytics and are able to drive consumers to offline stores and measure their actions. This can be done at a retail store, car dealership, movie theatre, bank or restaurant, for instance. These metrics will be more exciting and relevant to brand marketers than any other mobile engagement metric created so far. A side beneficiary of this trend will be digital out-of-home advertising, as out-of-home screens in places such as elevators, taxis, malls and airports have location information and will be a cross-screen companion to the aforementioned mobile advertising campaigns.

Social advertising will continue to eat market share from traditional non-native display advertising and continue to fragment with one if not two worthy competitors to Facebook and Twitter. Social advertising will begin to drive media sales across all formats. As feedback loops into social measurement and company touch points (CRM, email, POS) become almost real-time, more and more “creative” will be driven by real-time actions. Additionally, where and how to make "media buys" will be more of the tail that is wagged by the big dog of social.

I predict 2014 will be the most active year yet for ad-tech M&A and IPO transactions, which will trigger another cycle of VC investing into this space.

Chris Fralic, managing partner, First Round Capital

ONLINE and OFFLINE continue to collide.



These two worlds used to be very separate, but now we're seeing them merge, especially in retail and ecommerce. More companies are rolling out tools and systems to serve their customers in the exact ways and locations they want to be served – online, in the store and increasingly both on their smartphones.

The line between CONTENT and MARKETING continues to blur.



Marketers are putting less and less effort into their own .com sites and more and more into the social media sites where their customers live. The catchphrase that's carrying the day is "native advertising," and it’s already working really well at Twitter and Facebook, driven largely by mobile, and Twitter’s MoPub just launched Native Ads.

John Elton, partner, Greycroft Partners

  1. Rise of the machines: Programmatic advertising is growing so fast, analysts have had to revise their estimates twice in just the last three months to 19% of all display spend this year. We expect programmatic growth to accelerate well beyond expectations next year.
  2. Mobile commerce at a precipice: We spoke with a top global retailer last week that was seeing early sales figures indicate that more than 30% of their sales would be from mobile in Q4 an over 400% year-over-year growth. In 2014 this will cause a dramatic reallocation of spend and investment in this area.
  3. Public babies start to feed: The newly public or about to be public ad-tech companies will start to use their balance sheets and public stock to acquire new expertise, teams and capabilities.
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