WeSEE: private ad exchange, mobile and video are top digital advertising trends for 2014

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Digital ad trends

Digital ad trends

Visual classification company WeSEE releases its predictions for the digital advertising industry in the coming year.

Adrian Moxley, co-founder and CMO at WeSEE, said: “Advertising technology is a sector that has been relatively recession-proof. Digital advertising has huge benefits for brands and businesses; it help publishers monetise their content, and it ultimately keeps the internet free. Over the coming months we expect the industry to continue to grow as increasing amounts of budget are allocated towards digital channels. Below are the three areas that we expect will see the most growth and innovation during 2014.”

1. The rise of the private ad exchange

More and more advertisers and agencies are seeing exponential growth in ad-buying through programmatic platforms. These technology platforms are powered by sophisticated real-time data analysis and audience analytics to buy and sell valuable digital advertising space. Transactions are automated and occur in a matter of milliseconds.

However, increasingly, more complex factors such as targeting, content value and personalisation are coming into consideration. For example, a publisher site may have a track record of high click-throughs, but if it’s the wrong audience for your brand, it’s not valuable. Similarly, if you publish a luxury blog, you want to be confident that discount brands are not advertising on your site and altering the personality and feel of your site.

This is giving rise to a new market made up of private ad exchanges, which are fully owned, controlled and managed by a publisher. A private exchange is effectively a ‘walled garden’ of high value digital content with a very targeted and attractive audience – only a select few are allowed in. Private exchanges mean that publishers can be safe in the knowledge that only messages, brands or products that they are comfortable with will appear in adverts on their sites. It increases the value of the digital advertising for both advertisers and publishers, meaning that online content stays premium and audiences remain relevant. With more luxury brands competing for exclusive advertising space, we expect private ad exchanges to grow both in number and in influence over the coming year.

2. Mobile advertising will become more visual

Each year, mobile continues to innovate and offer new opportunities for digital marketers. By allowing people to be constantly connected wherever they are, mobile has changed the very nature of communication, shopping, and content consumption.

Technology is enabling different behaviours on different mobile devices, for example ‘magazine style’ digital content, optimised for tablet devices, is read by consumers in their homes, while location-based shopping and deals apps work best on smartphones when people are out and about. Now, we’re also seeing the launch of mobile applications like Osom that let people pictures of items they see around them on their mobile devices, and click through to purchase comparable items on a retailer’s site.

In response to these new technologies and the related mobile-led consumer behaviours they enable, new ways of advertising, such as in-app advertising or content-embedded ads, have sprung up. Many of the new apps and technologies that are defining how we interact with our mobiles are ad-funded – opening up new opportunities for advertisers to connect with consumers across a number of devices all selling the same or related messages. Mobile behaviour trends will continue to evolve in this way in 2014 and as people’s mobile browsing and buying journeys become even more visual and location-based, there will be more opportunities for advertisers to target content to users’ multi-screen devices in a more ‘episodic’ way.

3. Video advertising will prove its worth

Mobile isn’t the only place where we see continued growth of online video. It has taken off across all platforms – PC, tablet and mobile – in a way that few would have predicted a few years ago. As the number of countries supporting 4G networks rises, so proportionally does the number of people worldwide using smartphones to consume media content, including online video. Faster streaming speeds, and a trend for short video clips such as on Vine, mean that mobiles become an access point for streaming video content. YouTube is now the second largest search engine, full of both user-generated and branded content, and video streaming sites like 4OD and ITVPlayer attract huge audiences. Consulting group Accenture reported that 90% of consumers globally regularly consume video content over the Internet.

However, the advertising solutions that support these free video-on-demand services are still in their infancy. The advertising is targeted based on the keywords that have been used to describe the video by its creators. For professionally created content like TV shows and films, this can best be described as a hit-and-miss approach to targeted advertising, and for user-generated content this is almost certainly ineffective.

Technologies that can ‘read’ and classify video content as well as automate and improve the whole process of placing video ads already exist. In 2014, the use of such technologies will become more prevalent amongst brand marketers looking to engage consumers with highly targeted advertising content. As this happens we will see a huge improvement in the relevance, engagement and targeting of video adverts. This will improve the return on investment that brands get from video advertising, both through desktop, games consoles and mobile channels, thus spurring both investment and business consolidation in this area. In doing so, the market will continue to consolidate, and we foresee acquisitions and strategic deal-making between video networks and major platforms similar to that of the recent AOL and Adap TV acquisition.