Last year has been a point of self-reflection for the entire digital advertising ecosystem. As the market matures and technologies evolve, the need to tackle rampant challenges, such as site clutter, fraud, and ad blocking, has become critical. Sacrificing user experience at the cost of making short-term revenue isn’t a sustainable way to conduct business anymore – both publishers and ad tech vendors have realized this.
The industry is making massive strides to fix what is flawed by shifting focus to improving the user experience. IAB has announced its LEAN initiative where they plan to set new standards for user-friendly digital advertising. LEAN stands for Light in terms of transfer size of the placement, Encrypted as in secure, Ad Choice Supported that allows users to gain more control over ad targeting, and Non-Invasive Ads for formats that don’t disrupt the browsing experience.
While it is imperative that the industry organizations and associations set and demand new best practices, fixing the user experience in digital advertising has to begin at the grassroot level: ad tech companies must push for innovations and publishers need to be open for change.
Publishers are the gatekeepers of advertising UX for a simple reason; poor experiences drive ad performance down, turning advertisers and readers away. Just a mere 2 second delay in page load time can scare off 18% of users. To break the cycle once and for all, publishers are courting breakthrough technology partners who can help them monetize content in a way that keeps both advertisers and users happy.
Ad tech companies are streamlining their core offering to better serve the top of the funnel, namely publishers. If you look at ad serving, little has changed in the past twenty years – majority of the innovation has taken place on the buy-side of the business. Progressive ad tech vendors have seen this as an opportunity to develop software-based solutions and services that enable new revenue streams through publishers’ ad servers. In other words, ad tech companies are now looking to find solutions that boost or empower the existing monetization engine.
Content monetization is a complex operation for publishers big and small. While programmatic has been the spearheading growth driver in 2016 – premium publishing brands need to be able to balance between direct sales deals and programmatic demand to grow and scale their business sustainably.
What is the role of ad tech in all this?
Ad tech needs to become the simplifier that opens new revenue opportunities and leaves room for optimization. Ad tech vendors are increasingly becoming the watchdogs for integrity; some companies provide third party accreditation and services to ensure that publishers can prove the quality and performance of their inventory through data.
Ad tech is steadily moving past the reactionary solution provider it has traditionally been. Innovations have by far been driven by threat or content consumption patterns. Take ad blocking for instance, it undeniably has strong-armed everyone in the ecosystem to reconsider the very fundamentals of digital advertising.
In 2017, ad tech companies must take a visionary stand moving from vendors to trusted partners. Integrating experiences into digital advertising is inevitable. The question is: who will lead and who will follow?
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