The Top Stories And Trends Of 2017 In Data-Driven Advertising

What interested AdExchanger readers most in 2017?

The most popular stories of the year show that header bidding’s evolution remained a hot topic – server-to-server integrations, in-app header bidding and supply-path optimization.

But 2017 was also a year of upheaval. Fallout from Apple’s Safari changes and Google’s YouTube changes concerned many readers. And there was a tremendous amount of interest in new auction models and new agency structures, as company in-housing came into favor while trade desks fell out.

And, of course, the potential upheaval from the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation loomed large.

The below articles were the most-read stories from last year and document the major trends evolving digital media and data-driven advertising.

Header Bidding Goes Server-Side: 6 Things You Should Know, Sarah Sluis (1/11)

The adoption of server-side header bidding, which reduces latency by shifting the back-and-forth ad calls to a remote server, has quietly driven changes in online auction dynamics over the past year.

But server-to-server bidding also comes with challenges. Exchange vendors require more trust to operate, and bear more responsibility for hidden fees, data leakage and auction mishaps.

What Google’s Removal Of Third-Party Pixels On YouTube Means For Marketers, Kelly Liyakasa (1/25)

During the hubbub of Inauguration Day, Google announced changes wherein marketer lists uploaded for YouTube campaigns must use Google’s identity-matching service, not an outside cookie-based matching provider.

At the same time, Google prohibited marketers from retargeting YouTube lists on other sites using AdWords.

Some marketers applauded Google for shedding cookie-based targeting in favor of audience IDs. Outside media companies, however, lost a valuable window between YouTube and open-ecosystem video campaigns.

The Rise Of The Ad Tech ‘Investorpreneur’, James Hercher (4/6)

With early-stage venture capital running dry for advertising technology startups, a cohort of industry entrepreneurs have formed an angel investment ecosystem with a strong record of bridging startups to institutional investment rounds.

These angel entrepreneurs typically join a seed-stage company to invest $25,000-$75,000, though their real contributions come in the form of business connections and a finger on the pulse of marketer concerns.

Apple’s Upcoming Safari Changes Will Shake Up Ad Tech, Auren Hoffman (8/3), SafeGraph co-founder and CEO

Apple’s iOS 11 release introduced Intelligent Tracking Prevention into its Safari browser.

Companies that use cookies to track or target online browsers now have only a 24-hour window when they’re allowed to see first-party data.

The big losers in this new environment are traditional ad networks and retargeting companies, which previously were able to route web traffic through their own URLs as a way to swipe a first-party cookie. But many publishers, despite having actual first-party claims, are disadvantaged as well.

The Ad Tech Do-Over: What Will You Do Differently With In-App Header Bidding?, David Jakubowski (8/25), Facebook director of publisher solutions

Mobile publishers are eager to bring header-bidding strategies (and higher CPMs) to in-app advertising, but can’t bridge the gap quite yet.

For one thing, app developers often rely more on in-app purchases or subscriptions, so advertising is less of an animating force. And it’s more time-consuming to develop a “wrapper,” an app-based auction clearinghouse, since apps don’t actually have “headers” like web publishers do.

Supply-Path Optimization: The Buy Side’s Answer To Header Bidding, Rachel Parkin (9/1), CafeMedia SVP of strategy and sales

Header bidding and transparency demands from brands have pushed buyers to find the most effective way to buy a publisher’s inventory. This trend is called “supply pathing,” or supply-path optimization.

DSPs, for instance, avoid duplication by placing a selection mechanism on incoming bid requests to reduce queries per second. Agencies are on it too, asking questions of publishers and SSPs, like whether they run multi-size or single-size auctions, to refine bidding strategies.

Big Changes Coming To Auctions, As Exchanges Roll The Dice On First-Price, Sarah Sluis (9/5)

In 2017, every major SSP and exchange technology company – except Google AdX –tested and launched a first-price auction offering.

First-price auctions may raise inventory prices, but they allow buyers to more effectively win inventory they want at their own price evaluation.

For SSPs, first-price auctions reduce margins and risk commoditizing their business. First-price adoption is partially a response to hidden fees and manipulative auctions, though, so SSPs may have to take their medicine on this one.

Leaving The Trading Desk Model Behind, Holding Companies Embed Specialists At Agencies, Alison Weissbrot (9/6)

Holding companies spent years consolidating digital media buying and analytics to apply data-driven expertise across all their agencies.

Recently, holding companies have begun embedding data analysts within the operating agency, because brands want that expertise within their account teams, not as a campaign call-on.

Embedded specialists can also open up new conversations around pricing because adding data sophistication creates a more consultative – and expensive –relationship.

Which Telco Will Be The First To Challenge Facebook And Google?, Matt Keiser (9/25), LiveIntent founder and CEO

Telcos, with access to logins and monthly billing data, are emerging as strong challengers to the duopoly.

AT&T’s hire of Brian Lesser from GroupM earlier this year signals the telco’s intent to acquire the pieces for its data-driven marketing stack. And Verizon, with AOL and Yahoo emails and ad tech, has a big advantage understanding what drives performance.

Identifying The True Value Of Identity, Drew Bradstock (9/13), Index Exchange SVP of product

Vendors and publishers are sharing their identity graphs and cookie footprints to enable the attribution and targeting capabilities currently only available with major platforms.

Sharing identity across the web opens up a lot of opportunity – in theory. In practice, it creates a great deal of complexity, which one expects when harnessing so many rivals into a collective effort.

The Many Shades Of In-Housing, Belinda J. Smith (10/2), EA global director of media activation

Enterprise and tech-savvy brands have begun “in-housing” the media-buying and analytics functions typically handled by an agency or DSP.

The starting point for any brand interested in taking ownership of digital media should be, somewhat ironically, with a trusted agency partner. In-housing isn’t so much the expulsion of advertising vendors as a change in the brand-agency relationship around who owns the contracts with tech companies.

A Marketer’s Guide To GDPR, Allison Schiff (10/31 … scary indeed)

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect next May, and businesses across the digital ecosystem are waking up to a startling reality.

Companies will no longer be able to collect or process a European citizen’s data without obtaining “unambiguous” consent.

With GDPR infractions costing up to 4% of revenue from the year prior, it’s a potentially backbreaking fine for any mid-size tech company (and would represent a record-setting penalty for any of the major platforms).

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