Brands, vendors and publishers flocked to CES this week to talk about the future of the digital advertising industry. It was another year where the breadth and depth of engagement continued to increase, with the C Space as active as ever. Across the board, the show yielded interesting and valuable conversations and insights regarding what's top of mind for players in our space. But what were the key takeaways? Here are four issues that everyone seemed to be talking about.
Data privacy was a hot button at CES this year. Much of the conversation was driven by CCPA, which went into effect on the first of the month. Marketers and publishers, as well as consumers and regulators, are all grappling with its impact, which likely won’t be determined until much later on. For now, brands are wondering how CCPA and similar state-by-state regulations will impact their ability to deliver personalized ad, content and commerce experiences to their audience. Similarly, discussing how the various players in the ecosystem will evolve their roles to support (or challenge) how the industry participates in Data and Privacy. Meanwhile, publishers and vendors are focusing on ensuring compliance as well as evolving their Data and Consumer Experience strategies. This is why everyone at CES was talking about first- and zero-party data (user data shared intentionally and proactively). With first- and zero-party data, there’s more transparency around provenance and quality. I expect more brands to partner with publishers and vendors who not only have their own first- and zero-party datasets, but can also make those datasets actionable.
CES is a place where hardware manufacturers can show off flashy and interesting new devices and products. Similarly, it’s also an opportunity for ad tech vendors and publishers to talk about new forms of inventory, formats and media. Some of the more interesting channels and formats emphasized at CES were CTV, DOOH and XR. This happened for several reasons. First, with heightened clutter across traditional digital media, there is a huge opportunity to be a “first mover” on new and emerging channels like streaming TV, outdoor digital signage and AR and VR experiences. Secondly, ad technology has finally evolved to allow for more automation, smarter targeting and better content across these types of media. And, with XR, the barriers for content creation have lowered significantly, driving a greater range of inventory for ad buyers.
There was a lot of talk about vendor consolidation at the show as 2019 ended with several big deals. However, I think the consolidation we’ve seen speaks to a much more meaningful trend occurring in the industry -- a shift towards full-stack offerings. As advertisers continue to seek greater transparency in their media campaigns, bringing the buy- and sell-side closer together is more important than ever. Smart Adserver’s acquisition of LiquidM is an example of that. I also think you see hints of that, albeit on the measurement side, with DoubleVerify’s recent publisher-focused acquisition of Ad-Juster. As a result of industry headwinds, vendors that own the full advertising stack -- buy- and sell-side -- and have unique insight into both sides of the ad equation will be well-positioned to support customers as their needs evolve. Being a full-stack provider means enhanced transparency, unique first-party data, greater campaign intelligence, and a simplified offering. It’s everything that a digital marketer wants from a tech partner today.
Trust and brand safety continued to dominate conversations in Vegas. The Tremor, Unruly and News Corp deal that happened at the top of the week is a good example of the way vendors and platforms are addressing advertiser demand. More than ever, brands are focused on working with partners that have access to exclusive, premium and brand safe inventory. Whether you’re a DSP or an SSP, building relationships with high-quality media partners will be table stakes in 2020. At Verizon Media, for example, in the last year, we’ve launched partnerships with players like Apple and Amazon, giving us access to even more unique and trusted supply.