2022 Trends in Programmatic Advertising, Part 4: Insights from Verve

Verve Ionut Ciobotaru Derek Hashemi

Welcome to our latest blog series, 2022 Trends in Programmatic Advertising. We’re meeting with industry experts and thought leaders to bring you insights on what’s ahead for 2022, and what’s shaking up the programmatic landscape.

In this next installment, meet Ionut Ciobotaru [IC], Co-CEO at Verve, and Derek Hashemi [DH], VP of CTV Platform at Verve. We’re tackling three major topics today: industry consolidation, audience targeting, and over-the-top (OTT)/ connected TV (CTV) advertising, all of which will take center stage in 2022. Our thought leaders share their insights on the potential industry road bumps ahead, along with the opportunities to deliver targeted messages to the right audiences.

What challenges does OTT present for marketers in 2022?

[DH] OTT continues to be a hot topic and, for all intents and purposes, will be a major point of conversation for brands, agencies, and tech partners in 2022 and beyond. From a marketer’s perspective, the major problem continues to be reconciling the cost of the OTT CPM vs linear buys. As a result, there are many questions being asked on the buy-side: should we move more OTT spends into upfronts and direct campaigns to realize better cost efficiency? Do we look for a new KPI to measure OTTs effectiveness or do we continue to use video completion rate (VCR) as the benchmark of choice? 

All these questions are very valid and deserve a well thought out answer. Traditionally, linear buys have always served as a “top of the funnel” branding tactic. OTT is no different. Digital provides new attribution opportunities, however, specifically when executing buys programmatically. 

What are some of these opportunities?

[DH] Direct buys and upfronts will always have their place, and should be utilized on a brand-by-brand basis, but programmatic offers a unique opportunity to go beyond video completion rates. It also allows marketers an opportunity to look at the effectiveness of their campaigns more holistically, across different screens and devices. 

Enter multi-touch attribution. While there is nothing earth shattering here, perhaps this methodology of tracking a consumer’s journey through the sales funnel, in combination with exposed and controlled groups, can shed some light into the effectiveness of OTT to generate sales lift. 

Once some aspect of return on advertising spend (ROAS) is established, a buyer can then use programmatic channels to effectively target the desired audiences across various content sources to generate further lift, which direct buys cannot offer. 

The concept of multi-touch attribution brings about another interesting point and that is the concept that a desired audience has not one but many touch points throughout a given day, week, or month. Each of these touchpoints  present an opportunity for a brand to get their message or product in front of that potential consumer. 

In the digital space, sometimes we become too focused on targeting inventory types rather than identifying high-value audiences and looking for ways in which to get in front of them. Whether that is on a website, their mobile phone, or the big screen, the format we utilize is nothing more than a vehicle used to deliver a brand’s message. Programmatic will continue to be the best way to deliver a targeted message, across touchpoints, while providing valuable insights into consumer behavior and sales, even (or especially) when access to identifiers dwindles.

With major shifts in the industry towards privacy-focused advertising solutions, what’s your take on how traditional audience targeting will evolve in 2022?

[IC] 2022 will be the year where we see consumers gaining back control. Consumers should get to decide what to do with their data, but advertisers and publishers have an opportunity to help educate them on how that data will be used, and how it can add value to their experiences (for example, more relevant advertising and a more cohesive online experience). Users freely share their data when they understand the context, similar to how they do so (for example, within social media platforms). And in fact, only 7% of respondents to an eMarketer survey in the US said they would be unwilling to share any data in exchange for personalized product offers and ads, leaving the majority open to sharing some personal data. By helping educate the market on the value of sharing personal data, such as (like helping them discover products and features that are relevant and helpful to them), users will be more likely to opt in.

We also have an opportunity to reach consumers by audience segments, rather than relying so heavily on personal identifiers. By grouping audiences into segments, we can help users protect their personally identifiable information (PII), while ensuring advertiser campaigns can reach the right people. Contextual advertising is one of the top levers that allows us to create addressable segments while protecting consumers’ PII. Not only does contextual targeting ensure that advertiser campaigns reach the right target groups, it also inherently catches the consumers’ attention in moments of high intent, helping deliver a relevant, engaging experience for users without compromising privacy. Contextual will play a key role in the evolution of the advertising industry in 2022, as marketers and publishers alike evaluate alternatives to a world without cookies and identifiers.

Speaking of challenges and opportunities, what do you see arising from growing consolidation in the ad tech industry?

[IC] Consolidation can seem frightening. There are a few challenges inherent to mergers and acquisitions, but I see these as growing pains; the benefits outweigh the challenges. 

For example, as organizations go from many to few, instead of having 100 players doing the same thing, we get 10 players, who have more resources and brain power, and are in a better position to focus on value and differentiation for their customers. 

While customers will have fewer partners to choose among, the partner they pick will have more features and functionality, and there will be greater opportunities for coexisting partnerships. This shifts the conversation from vendor sales to more all-in-one partnerships, which helps publishers and advertisers manage everything they need in one place. While the big players will still compete with one another in the marketplace, they will also be able to co-exist and drive growth for all stakeholders — advertisers, publishers, and consumers alike.

While the future may seem challenging, the continued partnerships amongst various players in the ecosystem offers a path towards the light at the end of the tunnel. Privacy-first solutions will rule the roost, putting consumers back in control in the driver’s seat. Connect with us today to get ahead of the game for 2022, and to learn about how our CTV and anonymized audience solutions — such as contextual targeting and ATOM (Anonymized Targeting On Mobile) — can future-proof your campaigns. 

In the meantime, stay tuned for more expert insights over the coming days on what 2022 has in store! 

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