Brandspeak: 2018 Takeaways Include Data, Trust & Ad Format Innovation

The following is a guest post by Marinn Jackson, Head of Premium Sales Strategy at Oath:

In the final weeks of the year, marketers are reflecting on some of the most pressing trends and making sure to incorporate these initiatives into their 2019 plans. While brand safety, trust and transparency continue to be central themes in every conversation, ad format innovation has also been critical.

Here are my top three takeaways for 2018, and themes that come up again and again in my conversations with clients, partners and peers.

Activate data for better storytelling

Advertisers and agencies want to create branded content that’s entertaining and, most importantly, engaging and actionable. To do this, data is the key. Marketers have more data than ever before to personalize stories and identify the best channels to deliver them against. Still, brands struggle using insights to inform content so that it hits the mark with their audiences. Nearly 25 percent of marketers say they’re challenged to tell the right story with their data.

Activating data to develop and deliver the best campaigns will need to improve moving forward. Fortunately, demand-side platforms are evolving to deliver capabilities and features that centralize and unify audience data. This is allowing marketers to streamline their ad tech stacks and de-silo their insights. In doing so, activating data across channels becomes more manageable and effective.

Brand trust is the best capital

We know that trust matters, for consumers and marketers. Brands have understandably called for change to an ad supply chain that has been murky and opaque for too long. In the agency world, we saw more clarity in spend and fees, while vendors delivered programmatic in more well-lit exchanges that offered greater insight into inventory, measurability and data. Similarly, publishers also implemented fixes like ads.txt, and took some broader steps to ensure brand-safe environments for partners. Trust in brands—“brand love”—is more important than ever.

To win customers’ attention, trust and growth, brands have to consistently raise the bar. We’re seeing more and more agencies, vendors and publishers alike highlighting the improvements made driving greater trust and transparency. This will engender more confidence among marketers and benefit the industry, at large.

Innovative ads need to deliver real value

Mobile is the first screen for the majority of consumers. According to comScore, 70 percent of all media consumption occurs on mobile devices. And as traditional linear TV viewing shifts to OTT, smartphones and tablets, that percentage will only continue to grow. The change has had a huge impact on consumer expectations. The bar for engaging ad experiences has been raised, which means marketers and their partners need to constantly talk about those demands and how to deliver on them. Avon, Macy’s and Sun Life are just some of the brands taking action.

Ad format innovation is important today and will continue to be over the next six months and more. From augmented reality to programmatic virtual reality, these opportunities deliver impressive interactivity and branding that will spearhead a new experience economy for consumers and advertisers. To truly resonate, however, these campaigns must be relevant and customized. Brands should think about how to complement the consumer experience while delivering a new kind of utility. This will manifest through new formats that help consumers discover, interact and transact with brands.

Activating data, trust and accountability and ad format innovation will continue be central themes for the industry this year. They’re what advertisers are demanding. I expect this to be the case in 2019. Wishing you all a happy and productive New Year.

Marinn Jackson is Head of Premium Sales Strategy at Oath, a Verizon company.

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