Disrupting The Advertising Industry

How is innovative technology changing the digital ad industry?

Advertisers and marketers have repeatedly struggled to engage with certain demographics, though new technologies are making this easier. Adverts can be targeted to specific individuals, in an attempt to tap into the exact wants and needs of consumers. The availability of public data and the right tools to analyse it have given businesses the chance to optimise their marketing strategies, but there’s a fine line between getting to know your audience and digitally stalking them. Media companies are continuing to experience teething problems when it comes to privacy, and the problems associated with the growth of online advertising don’t end there. Advertisers and ad agencies are still learning to navigate the digital sphere. . . but how exactly is innovative technology changing the digital ad industry?

How has tech disrupted advertising?
Technology has brought disruption to the digital ad industry in various ways, and to four main groups. First, tech has altered the strategies of the advertisers themselves, who aim to promote their own company or product by gathering as much information as possible about their potential customers. Then there’s the external ad agencies. As advertisers demand more and more data, agencies have used tech to extract and analyse information. They have also had to re-evaluate their employment strategies, commissioning people who can work alongside technology and maximise its potential. Changes in the way the advertisers and ad agencies work have begun to affect media owners, who are threatened by independent advertising networks that they have no control over. Earlier this year, the Telegraph Media Group responded to the issue of ad overload by stripping away digital ads on their site. Now, they show just one advertisement per webpage. Then of course there’s another vital group to consider – consumers. Target audiences, bombarded by personal ads, are becoming suspicious and aggressively rejecting targeted advertising. This then has a knock-on effect on the advertisers, ad agencies and media owners.

Despite negative reactions from media owners and consumers, tech in the ad industry has enabled advertisers to get to know their audiences and create ad campaigns that respond to their preferences and needs. For example, location services allow marketers to analyse the online behaviours of their customers, which helps deliver relevance. Artificial Intelligence and SaaS (Software as a Service) models have affected the media as a whole, automating the way that media companies are run. For ad agencies specifically, predictive platforms help marketing teams to foresee the success levels of their campaigns. They can then use the info to address any potential setbacks. As well as this, out-of-home (OOH) advertising has expanded massively due to the ubiquity of mobile devices. . . but constant mobile ads quickly get very annoying. In response, Apple, Facebook and Google have all developed their own ad-control software. Apple’s iAds platform, for example, forces ads to conform to strict guidelines. Facebook’s Instant Articles and Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages also encourage the containment of ads. In future, marketers and advertisers could look to Virtual Reality as a major ad platform as it transitions into a popular consumer device.

Barriers and potential problems
On the whole, disruption has been a blessing for advertisers who are trying to reach out to their audience and expand their customer base. There are limitations to the technology already in use, though. For example, AI can analyse data sets, but it can’t deliver insights, predict anomalies or understand culture. . . yet. By investing in innovative advertising, companies may actually alienate their consumers because the moment you start talking about data accessibility, you come up against concerns over privacy. Not many people are likely to be comfortable with ad teams analysing their offline activities, and this could make them actively reject ad campaigns. Problems have also come from the need to control ads. AdBlock Plus, for instance, faced concern over their singular ability to decide which ads were acceptable or not. Now, AdBlock Plus’s parent company has given up this power to an independent committee and is working to improve their services. All this considered, perhaps the biggest issue for advertisers is fraud. Investing in digital advertising is very different from commissioning a printing shop to produce a number of flyers which you then physically pick up and distribute. The online sphere is much easier to manipulate, especially when marketers buy programmatic advertising rather than negotiating with human representatives. It’s predicted that $7.2 billion will be wasted this year by marketers who purchase ad campaigns that receive the vast majority of their traffic from bots. In some cases, the ads never even exist.

The ad industry has undoubtedly benefitted from innovation and will continue to do so. There’s clear potential for further improvement as advertisers and marketers explore the best ways to utilise information. For instance, automated advertising is in its infancy and more human creativity is needed to work out how best to apply the technology. Offline, OOH advertising isn’t dead, either. Ad teams now have the opportunity to apply technology to offline advertising – think Augmented Reality posters and billboards. Overall, advertisers can use innovative tech to great effect, getting closer to their target audience and understanding what makes them tick. However, there are important considerations to be made – namely avoiding fraud and respecting customer privacy. As companies target individuals with specific adverts, they will need to be careful to create useful, relevant ads without alienating consumers through advertisement overload. Advertisers will also need to be very careful with digital ad campaigns by investing in bot detection and, when it comes to negotiations, substituting programmatic purchases for good old human conversation.

Does your company use targeted ad campaigns? How will consumers react to the increased use of technology to personalise marketing? Share your thoughts and opinions.