In 2017, the advertising industry — both buyers and sellers — experienced many changes that will shape the space moving forward. Some were related to the constantly advancing technology that has become so important in the category. Others dealt with an increased demand for greater transparency from partners.
So, with the New Year now underway, there are several areas that I believe are especially critical for the industry to pay attention to in the coming months. Here’s a closer look at four of them.
1. Sharp increase in vertical video.
While Snapchat’s stock price is declining, at MediaRadar, we observe that the number of brands buying on their platform is rising sharply. One of the unexpected byproducts of Snapchat’s impact on the market is that those advertisers are now more actively running vertical video – everywhere. Simultaneously, we see more internet use of mobile phones than ever. As a result, we predict a continued, steady increase of vertical video as the vertical format becomes more common.
2. Brand safety becomes much more important.
In the beginning of 2017, it seemed like brand safety was a minor issue. However, ater repeated lapses at YouTube (and elsewhere), advertiser confidence is shaken. The scale of the problem is significant. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki is taking no chances. She announced she had hired 10,000 people to manually watch videos. And the WSJ’s overview on the people doing the clean-up paints a bleak portrait of what they’re up against. We predict brand safety becomes an important part of 2018 campaigns.
3. Ad tech consolidation.
We believe there will be fewer ad tech companies at the end of 2018. Here are the headwinds the industry faces. First, MediaRadar observes more MSAs between agencies and ad tech players than ever before. Ad spend is being increasingly consolidated and concentrated. Second, high-profile brand safety failures from 2017 are decreasing the amount of buying on programmatic. Third, follow-on investments by venture capital has declined sharply into ad tech firms. And, finally, companies that sell direct are becoming more sophisticated selling against programmatic, as well as co-opting programmatic for their own benefit.
4. Meredith rises.
Industry pundits are quick to fret about the negative impact of disintermediation on traditional media businesses. But disintermediation doesn’t actually favor the new vs. the old. Des Moines-based Meredith Corporation is a wonderful example of this. In the past 10 years, they have been careful buyers, scooping up assets from Gruner + Jahr, Disney, Martha Stewart, Selectable Media, AllRecipes.com, and now Time Inc. They’ve also had big success launching new brands, such as their mega-hit, Magnolia Journal, in 2017. The result is a company that will have approaching $5B in annual revenue. The stock has gone up 6X in the past 10 years. Meredith is clearly a recognized leader in the new media hegemony.
As we look ahead, expect vertical video, brand safety and consolidation – as well as the growth of Meredith Corporation – to be top-of-mind among advertisers in 2018. Closely following any developments in these areas will be crucial to their success next year, and beyond.