Elf On The Shelf: 2016 Ad Tech Edition

lung-huangData-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Lung Huang, head of strategic partnerships at 84.51°.

Well, the holidays are here and many of us are either hitting the after-Christmas sales or dreading those final projects we put off until after the new year. Before we take down those decorations, let’s look back at 2016, Elf on the Shelf-style.

For those without children, the Elf on the Shelf story describes how Santa’s “scout elves” hide in people’s homes to watch over daily events. Once everyone goes to bed, the scout elf flies back to the North Pole to report to Santa on all activities, both good and bad.

This might be how the Elf on the Shelf reported ad tech’s 2016.

Elfie Sees Lots Of Deals

By my count as of Dec. 12, there have been more than 128 ad tech mergers or acquisitions. This is a higher number than in 2015, but this year brought us one of the largest deals ever with the pending buy of Time Warner for $85 billion.

Half of all deals in 2016 were within three categories: 33 publishers, 19 agencies and 12 advertising technology companies. While many may say this was needed for those 12 ad tech acquisitions, I do think many more could have been accomplished and we could see more in 2017. This is also telling in that the number of publisher deals means we will be working on the basic mechanics of content rather than distribution.

I think the joyful noises you heard were not those of carolers, but rather the joyful cheers of those who benefited from the deals.

Elfie Sees Lots Of Happy Media Sellers

This year also brought an abundance of money to advertising. There were Olympic dollars, political dollars and even Olympic political dollars that drove digital spend to heights not seen in years. Then add to that more advertisers moving toward using digital anything; the future is so bright for digital media that I may wear Snapchat Shades.

The question has to be, with all of the advertising spend in digital, how will the traditional media players react? Well, it is no shock that this spurred many high-profile deals, including Verizon’s pending purchase of Yahoo and the AT&T-Time Warner deal. I can only imagine the deals in the works at Disney or Comcast, as I am sure they won’t be sitting back allowing others to acquire more scale or audience without a fight.

Elfie Sees Transparency Lacking

The Elf report shows transparency as an area where we have a way to go. The disagreements between clients and agencies was listed in great detail by the Association of National Advertisers’ Media Initiative Transparency: K2 Report. I would write more, but I can only show some of you…

Elfie Gets Real With Data

While we don’t have it all figured out, we are getting closer to the ability to market to everyone regardless of platform on a one-to-one basis at scale. We should soon be able to bring the right message at the time to the right person better than we can now.

This progress did not happen overnight, but it was made possible by using better data. Not all customer data is created equal, and we have all learned that through trial and error during the past few years. Unless you are sure about your audience, how can you personalize a message to them with confidence?

Our work will continue, but there will be some major topics we all need to tackle in the coming months as how we sort this all out. I am hopeful for the future and, unlike the Elf on the Shelf, ad tech progress won’t stop on Christmas Day until next holiday season. Cheers.

Follow Lung Huang (@Lung_Huang), 84.51° (@8451group) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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