2021 was another year of massive change for martech.
Apple restricted the use of IDFA, its mobile identifier, for tracking purposes in the spring, upending mobile targeting and measurement on iOS devices. Google, on the other hand, pushed back the date on phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome to 2023 so the industry could have more time to prepare, but the writing is on the wall. Meanwhile, Congress began making real plans to enhance privacy laws and crack down on violators.
As the martech industry faces new restrictions and more barriers to targeted advertising, marketers are rushing to capture consumers’ first-party data directly. According to the Wall Street Journal, brands including Avocados from Mexico, Miller High Life and Molson Coors are using loyalty programs, sweepstakes, newsletters, quizzes, polls and QR codes to get users to volunteer their data so they can use it for marketing efforts.
But all hope for targeted advertising is not lost. Google, Facebook and other martech players are working on cohort-based targeting solutions, and brands and publishers both are exploring clean rooms as a mechanism for privacy-compliant data sharing
Despite all of the upheaval, 2021 was the year that ad tech and martech finally began to grow up. 2021 was a banner year for consolidation across the space (see: Magnite buying SpotX, IAS acquiring Publica and even Publicis Group snatching up retail ad tech outfit CitrusAd.) And IPOs were aplenty: Innovid, Integral Ad Science, Taboola and AcuityAds are just a few companies that went public this year.
One thing is for certain: in martech, change will be constant. See below what experts predict for the space as we head into 2022.
Vidhya Srinivasan, VP of buying, analytics and measurement, Google
Modeling, an age-old industry solution, will become table stakes.
As we move toward a more privacy-safe internet, with less information, modeling is going to be paramount to successful strategies. If marketers and advertisers don’t embrace modeling in 2022, they risk the ability to understand the effectiveness of their marketing solutions in the future. By this time next year, we can expect modeling to be deeply embedded in the vernacular of all advertisers and marketers as they continue to prioritize, enable and understand privacy-centric measurement solutions.
Iván Markman, chief business officer, Yahoo
Google will not grant another extension on alternative solutions to third-party cookies and IDs.
Those that delay will be in peril of both revenue loss and consumer irrelevance. You literally cannot afford to wait. This time crunch, however, will yield more direct industry conversations, as we build innovative approaches to audience creation, engagement and measurement beyond cookies and app advertising IDs. 2022 will elevate the discussion on value exchange; more specifically, the strength of a brand’s offering to entice the consumer to connect.
Seb Tomich, SVP and global head of advertising, The New York Times
All eyes will be on the economy.
First party [data] took center stage this year with the looming death of the third-party cookie. Although we are still waiting for a resolution, The Times has been building first-party [data] products and set our own deadline of 2021 to eliminate third-party targeting. It is so important that there will be more solutions to help mitigate this shift. But at The Times, we are strictly first-party and leveraging our expanding readership to fuel our platform. The more our readership grows, the more impressive our machine learning becomes.
When we look to 2022, all eyes will be on the economy. A healthy economy is a healthy ad business.
Chris Kelly, CEO, Upwave
CTV centric agencies will emerge.
For years, TV and digital agencies fought over brands’ emerging CTV budgets. TV agencies argued it’s still television, usually even with the same creative. Digital agencies argued that the buying, targeting and measurement process resembled digital, so CTV was their turf. Industry observers wondered for years who would eventually win those dollars. The answer: Maybe neither.
It takes the best of both disciplines — the granular targeting of digital with the full-screen storytelling of TV — to do CTV right. So a new breed of experts is starting to emerge — CTV agencies — a specialization that marries the two skill sets to realize CTV’s true potential.
John Hamilton, CEO, TVDataNow predicts: Clean rooms will be used to deliver insights balanced with security and privacy in 2022.
Large publishers, platforms and DSPs want better control over privacy and security while still being able to measure the effectiveness of advertising. Clean rooms, software that enables companies to match user-level information without sharing raw data, have been a huge topic of discussion in digital media.
Many companies are emerging to serve this area, such as Habu, InfoSum, and Snowflake. They will become huge partners in CTV, especially as evolving privacy and security concerns require an adjustment of control over time, based on best practices.
Abhay Singhal, co-founder and CEO, InMobi Marketing Solutions
Gen Z will have more influence, faster on the economy and media landscape than many may have expected.
As digital and social natives, [Gen Z] is in its formative years with building brand loyalty. Over the next four to seven years, this generation will begin to fully realize its earning and spending potential. Gen Z is going to different places to consume information; I doubt The New York Times ever thought they’d have to use TikTok to share the news. It will soon be the same for retail and politics.
[Gen Z] will drive how we think about products and ad formats and how we build Web 3.0. Both advertisers and publishers will have to really work to deliver engaging content that provides value to the audience beyond just advertising. Content development will be bigger and more important than it used to be; brands will need to invest in creating sticky content to keep up with the pace.
Eric Wheeler, CEO and cofounder, 33Across predicts: It will take effort for the industry to re-engineer cookie-dependent systems to be agnostic, but in the long run, it will improve operational margins.
Almost everything we know and love about today’s programmatic advertising infrastructure is tied to the cookie: measurement, tracking, retargeting, frequency capping, and much more. Many of these activities accrue costs that impact publisher margins. It will take some serious effort for the industry to re-engineer cookie-dependent systems to be agnostic. But in the long run, applying our learnings will improve operational margins.
In addition to tackling the cookieless infrastructure, we need to also automate processes to service customers and automate workflows to free up human capital in a way that does not add an incremental tax into the equation. Cookieless inventory is already lower-priced and undersold.
Doug Huntington, CEO and Co-Founder, FatTail predicts: There will be impending social and e-commerce platform competition.
Social media continues to grow and multiply. As an increasing percentage of buying decisions are made on social platforms, their commerce capabilities are getting stronger. Consumers who cut their teeth buying on Amazon now expect to be able to buy anything, anywhere at any time.
Suppliers in pursuit of less cluttered distribution channels are being drawn to social commerce and its corollary benefits: enhanced engagement and precision targeting. E-mmerce platforms, seeing the writing on the wall, will begin mounting competitive responses including increased M&A activity.
Chad Engelgau, CEO, Acxiom predicts: Cloud acceleration will heat up.
The cost to deploy cloud solutions is falling, and the massive scalability of data processing in the cloud is beneficial for marketers deploying complex solutions. Cloud platforms also offer core toolsets and technologies that are native to the platforms, like analytics capabilities, and expedite the development of custom solutions.
As brands flock to the cloud to upgrade legacy solutions, it feeds the “everyone is doing it” mentality. The cloud ecosystem is booming, which makes the right choice difficult. Large brands with complex use cases are likely to use multiple clouds, but that means charges can pile up fast. Talent is another challenge, as most companies don’t have the skills to build new solutions or to migrate existing ones. Concerns about data leakage and being locked into a single cloud platform are also likely to persist.