The advertising industry grapples with the complexity and fragmentation of addressable media

The European Addressable Media Initiative explores the emerging ecosystem in major European advertising markets and finds advertisers, agencies and media owners struggling with complexity and fragmentation.

The European Addressable Media Initiative, the cross-industry program to help European buyers and sellers of advertising navigate the addressable media landscape, has completed a key milestone in its research agenda, investigating emerging challenges and opportunities .

Working closely with Initiative members – Finecast, LiveRamp, Amobee, Comscore, Lotame, Magnite, Neustar, OneTrust and PubMatic – we conducted a series of in-depth interviews and panel discussions with key participants from the Big Five European advertising markets – the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

These discussions provided a compelling snapshot of an industry in transition.

As has been widely reported, there are concerns about the future, with privacy regulations, anti-tracking safeguards and the deprecation of established digital IDs contributing to a more challenging environment for addressable media, especially on the open web. .

However, neither advertisers nor media owners are despairing, with many of those we interviewed highlighting the time available to prepare for a cookie-free world, the progress already made and the innovative new solutions coming to market.

Agencies help clients navigate a growing range of options for delivering marketing messages to addressable audiences, including contextual targeting, vendor-defined audiences, cookieless identification solutions, cleanrooms, data matching and other techniques.

Media owners also have an array of options, with a wide selection of tools, solutions, and partners to help them deliver addressable campaigns. Audience scale, access to first-party data, data quality, and data-matching capabilities are critical factors, but new networks, alliances, and collaborative solutions are emerging for smaller publishers.

Many industry participants said data and privacy regulation remained a key area of ​​uncertainty, with proposed laws including the EU Digital Governance Act, Digital Services Act , the Digital Markets Act and the Data Act, as well as proposals on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and other privacy regulations, make long-term decisions more difficult.

Some of our interviewees cited the Belgian Data Protection Authority’s recent ruling that IAB Europe’s Transparency & Consent Framework (TCF) violates the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as further evidence. of that. Others have suggested that policymakers and regulators are far from done with the advertising market, creating further uncertainty.

Find a point of difference

Advertisers, agencies and media owners must navigate a complex array of solutions, and many are struggling to determine the best way to proceed. For small players, often with small teams, evaluating different solutions and vendors is time-consuming and resource-intensive, and there is a risk of committing to a solution that is ultimately not supported by the market at large.

As one UK publisher put it, “It’s hard to choose the right solution with confidence in today’s market, and even harder to really understand the hardware differences between vendors.” Some publishers worry about losing business if their chosen solutions don’t deliver exactly what the advertiser or agency is looking for.

Donatas Nemura, Senior Director of Product Solutions at Finecast, WPP’s addressable media agency, sees similar challenges in addressable television: “We are seeing a wave of experimentation and increased fragmentation in problem solving approaches. identity for addressable television. There are a range of different identity solutions and frameworks being developed and tested today, while publishers also seem to be going down slightly different paths when it comes to which partners to partner with. they work and the depth and types of data they share It will most likely be a few years before we have a handful of large-scale competitive solutions – and industry-wide collaboration is crucial if we are to get there faster.

Make the right choice

Growing complexity is also an issue on the buyers’ side, with a senior executive from a leading agency group commenting: “We are seeing an explosion of clean rooms controlled by media owners to house data, perform analyzes and report metrics – but we want to work with our own choice of clean room, using secure means to obtain data, rather than having to work across multiple media proprietary solutions, which makes it more difficult to frequency management and performance evaluation between different partners.

Several agencies also highlighted the difficulty of delivering large-scale, repeatable campaigns. As one agency executive explained, “We have a range of options for our clients, but it’s not always easy to determine which solution is optimal – scalable, efficient and repeatable – without extensive testing and learning. “

One solution, adopted by a growing number of agencies, is buy-side curation. As Piper Heitzler, Head of Growth, EMEA, at Amobee puts it: “Agencies have many strengths, but a long-standing driver of value has been their ability to leverage their buying power to secure premium inventory. . As a provider of technology to enable the planning and activation of these engagements, we see each agency group doubling down on their go-to-market strategies, especially for innovative video ad experiences. Discovering and activating private marketplaces has never been particularly sexy or effective. Creating a unified curated inventory gateway delivers the innovation, organizational benefits, and elevated experience that tomorrow’s programmatic merchants will expect. »

Cross-media measurement

The need for cross-media addressability and measurement adds complexity. Identity resolution and measurement solutions developed for digital may work on connected TV platforms, but may not on multiple walled gardens controlled by different pay TV platform operators, telecommunications and streaming media companies. Advertisers also face the challenge of navigating between homes, devices and people.

Will Keggin, Director of Advanced Advertising, UK, at LiveRamp, believes these challenges can be solved: “The demand for cross-media addressability is driven by evidence that people-based marketing works. Advertisers have experienced this through existing platforms that offer the ability to plan, activate and measure within an end-to-end people-based ecosystem, such as social media or technology platforms. already to help advertisers, media owners and technology partners collaborate on consumer touchpoints that could be used for cross-media addressability in a greater proportion of media investments.”

According to Paul Goode, senior vice president of strategic partnerships at Comscore, significant progress has been made toward cross-media measurement: of measurement remain the same: how to resolve digital IDs to real people, how to assign correct demographics, and how to account for overlaps, whether between media properties, between PC and mobile platforms, and between digital and television. This requires the creation of an underlying measurement space of synthetic people of equal size and representation to the population, and a methodology, based on panels as the source of truth, to probabilistically map the different patterns of identification. on this measurement space.

We’ll discuss all of these challenges and potential solutions at a series of public events open to all executives working on the buy and sell side of the advertising market – advertisers, agencies, publishers and broadcasters – in the UK, Germany, in France. , Italy and Spain between July 5 and July 13, 2022.

Click here to register and attend one of these seminars. We look forward to seeing you there.

Sharon D. Cole