5 critical trends in ad tech innovation

December 10, 2018

By Jeff Lucas, Head of Americas Sales, Verizon Media.

Marketing platforms are evolving as they expand their capabilities. Better technology, more innovation, and increased data capabilities give marketers smarter ways to reach people, and they expect platforms to offer premium inventory and quality experiences that drive performance and hit brand goals.

As a result, platforms are delivering more streamlined campaign management and unified reporting that provides meaningful insights across the customer journey. But to really leverage premium and programmatic together, marketers need to partner with the right platforms to support their goals.

Verizon Media has identified five ad tech-focused trends for brands to consider when looking to create better, more lasting connections with their audiences.

Trend 1: Premium content bought the way you want it

Premium inventory often refers to high-quality ad inventory, the kind sold on a managed basis by sales teams according to rate card condition and guaranteed delivery. The quality of the inventory is based on the context, format or targeting.

However, a major differentiator in today's platforms is access to this exclusive inventory, especially via easier, custom buying and deal types such as programmatic guaranteed.

At Verizon Media, we feature our own premium content across 15 categories that deliver over 90 percent of the content-category touchpoints to help you find and address consumers all along their journey, per comScore. Beyond our own inventory, Verizon Media has partnerships with premium providers, such as our recent partnership with Samsung deliver content through Bixby Home as well as exclusive native ads bought through Oath Ad Platforms Native. We combine premium content and exclusive ad placement with platforms to provide buyers with greater flexibility.

Trend 2: Ad innovation to focus on quality interaction

To really capture attention, ads need to create more meaningful connections between brands and their intended audiences.

Advertisers need to think beyond traditional impressions and more about the quality of each interaction. Ads shouldn't simply look good—they should solve real needs in a natural way to take advantage of specific moments. The right platform partner can help brands adapt to ever-changing consumer wants and needs by developing ad formats designed to meet brand goals.

For example, Verizon Media recently developed an augmented reality (AR) mobile ad unit available through our native marketplace. Pottery Barn used the ad in a recent campaign to help create a seamless path from inspiration to purchase, allowing users to view a variety of home furnishings within their actual home environment. The experience drove an average time spent of 2.4 minutes within the ad, as well as an 8.9 percent clickthrough rate.

Trend 3: Data that does something

While the industry is increasingly focused on engaging consumers at an individual level across multiple channels and devices, many platforms still have a limited understanding of audiences. Some DSPs still only use cookies and probabilistic matching or rely on fragmented profiles from data management platforms and onboarding partners, which deliver lackluster insights and poor cross-device identification.

Data is best when it accurately reflects the complexity of real people and their behaviors. Innovation in the data space is led by platforms that move the needle with authenticated accounts and real behavior. If your data isn't complete, your audience won't be either. Platforms that use data to not only reach and understand audiences, but to make ads smarter, are the ones making meaningful connections.

Trend 4: New channels emerge

Today's consumers are earbud-wearing, cord-cutting streamers who are always "on the go." To evolve with them, advertisers need access to supply across every emerging channel—connected TV, programmatic audio, digital out-of-home, in-app and the like. Platforms need to make it easy to reach people with the right message wherever they are.

That's why Verizon Media has been adding more connections to the top exchanges offering quality CTV, audio, and out-of-home inventory, as well as working to offer more options for targeting within these emerging formats.

Trend 5: Supply chain transparency

Demand-side platforms can support brand building by helping advertisers focus on the select inventory that best meets their goals. The problem is that a publisher's inventory can be routed through multiple supply sources before reaching a DSP front door. These multiple streams result in poor performance, cost inefficiency and untrustworthy traffic. Buyers are forced to deal with higher-quantity, lower-quality inventory, making it hard for marketers to generate impact.

One solution is implementing supply path optimization (SPO) to weed out low-quality and duplicate inventory. SPO offers a calculated solution for reducing fraud in the advertising ecosystem by accessing the most effective pathway to purchase a publisher's inventory.

We saw an opportunity to further streamline this path in a few ways, including hutting off redundant supply connections, working with supply partners to reduce duplications and optimize connections to quality, high-performing inventory, and implementing a machine-learning inventory-scoring system to help monitor and evaluate constant improvements to our SPO efforts.

SPO is just another step Verizon Media is taking to ensure advertisers are connecting with audiences across quality inventory.