These Trends Are Disrupting The Ad Industry. Are You Looking at Them Wrong?

dennis-buchheimData-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 Dennis Buchheim, vice president of programmatic advertising products at Yahoo.

It seems that almost every day, marketers are faced with a new trend or media channel where they must ask: Do I jump in and risk poor results, or do I wait and risk being late to the game?

But it’s not often that we step back and examine how marketplace shifts interrelate. That is, what currents and eddies form in the wake of the multiple trends that are simultaneously altering the way we do business.

Here are four trends that have gradually – or, in some cases, rapidly – changed the advertising industry in the last few years:

PC to mobile: Since the advent of the smartphone, consumers’ eyes have moved from desktops to handheld devices, and content and ads have followed. This summer, mobile apps accounted for 51% of total digital content consumption.

TV to online media: As higher bandwidths have allowed better streaming video experiences, more people are watching video on devices other than televisions. Broadcast TV audience ratings have declined since 2002, and 2013 was the first year people spent more time with digital media than television.

Direct buying to programmatic buying: Advertisers increasingly use algorithms and tools to plan and buy digital ads. Advertisers will spend an estimated $8.3 billion on real-time bidding this year, up from $6 billion in 2013.

Display to native: As publishers develop richer digital experiences for their users, they have begun to work with advertisers to create innovative and engaging ads that fit seamlessly into the content around them – evolving from traditional display ads to new native formats.

When Trends Collide

Discussing each trend individually could fill a book, and much has been written about each. But only by looking at the shifts together can marketers gain a more holistic view of the industry, understand the value each trend brings, and make informed decisions about how to distribute their budgets across the varied marketing opportunities. It’s like chemistry for marketers: Mix elements in the wrong proportions and the result can be messy, with a lot of wasted energy.

Consider native ads and programmatic buying. When it comes to creative, many marketers are assessing the opportunities in new, engaging formats. Native ads can improve brand favorability and purchase intent. On the other side of that coin, advertisers find incredible efficiency in programmatic buying, in some cases committing to purchasing all ads programmatically.

But since most native ads cannot be purchased programmatically yet, a 100% programmatic buying strategy limits a marketer’s ability to leverage the growing native opportunity. Marketers should find the right balance in their programs to make room for each of these trends and the innovation they drive.

Similar challenges exist with video and mobile. As more traffic moves to mobile, marketers developing video campaigns must also consider video format, placement and distribution strategies beyond the typical desktop pre-roll. Marketers simply can’t do one without the other – and how users interact with video on mobile devices is clearly different from how they consume it on their television or PC. Video games on mobile, for example, present one interesting new opportunity.

Keeping Up

There are a few things marketers can do to make sure they are not only keeping track of these shifts, but also considering them all during strategic planning.

First, they should be the voice of reason. When one trend gets a lot of buzz, it can be tempting to either jump in with both feet or ignore it. Be the adviser who sees the big picture and challenges the team to think about how to test in one area without losing sight of other key trends and strategies.

Have analytical people on the team. People who understand the increasingly data- and technology-driven world of marketing can be great assets, especially in helping you measure which tactics are performing best and whether they’re cannibalizing or supporting each other.

Find the right partner. If you rely on point solutions, you’ll have partners pulling you in many directions. If you have a partner who is looking across channels and formats, you can work together to step back and look at all the moving parts to create the best plan.

There are so many amazing new opportunities available to marketers these days, and it’s OK to get excited about each and every one of them. Like chemists, marketers must carefully and purposefully consider breakthroughs in the field, while taking measured risks in their experimentation.

It’s important not to lose sight of business goals, to assess what resources you have at your disposal and to decide how best to apply them as everything goes digital.

Follow Yahoo Advertising (@YahooAds) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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