The Evolution of Display Advertising: Adapt or Die

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Display and search have been two of the biggest drivers of advertising spend for years, but still advertisers are struggling to achieve their business goals through them. Brands can only advertise across websites that conform to standardized ad formats. Display advertising, a commodity media, is increasingly challenged by the lack of true user identity made available to marketers. Plus, digital display ad fraud has exploded over the past several years. In a December 2014 study, “The Bot Baseline: Fraud in Digital Advertising,” eMarketer determined that fraud will cost digital advertisers worldwide $6.3 billion this year. Moreover, DoubleVerify estimated fraud could be claiming as much as $1 million a day for its clients alone, according to its Q1 2015 “DV Fraud Protection” whitepaper.  Issues with cookie-based information, bots, fraud, viewability and cross-device attribution have been the hot topics in the industry for years and creating big challenges for digital advertisers.

Consequently, the industry is shifting to “emerging new media solutions”. We are entering a new era where custom platforms (or as we refer to them as “autonomous marketing platforms”) like Facebook®, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram where issues with cookie-based information, bots, fraud, viewability and cross-device attribution all but disappear. Challenges that marketers face with commodity media are being solved with solutions in autonomous marketing platforms which at the same time are creating a variety of unique experiences where both brands and consumers have an opportunity to invent, connect, create, and make mutually profitable things happen.

Autonomous marketing platforms are also leading a new trend of advertising that focuses on creating seamless experiences for their audiences. Marketers can now think about how to adapt their marketing campaigns to true consumer conversations. Autonomous marketing platforms offer display solutions that can easily insert brands into the conversation in real time allowing them to capitalize on trending topics. They focus on prioritizing relevant messages through the best-in-class targeting and technology. These platforms are able to use basic tactics to distribute their display and video ads in highly personalized ways by leveraging CRM data, creating lookalike audiences to expand reach, and tracking cross-device attribution for a better ROI optimization.

As a result, the market is shifting toward the leading autonomous marketing platforms. Spending on digital display advertising in the US will total $27.05 billion in 2015 and Twitter will surpass Yahoo in total U.S. digital display ad revenues for the first time this year. Facebook and Twitter will take 33% share of US digital display market by 2017, according to new figures from eMarketer.


These autonomous marketing platforms have mobile at their core. Their audiences spend most of the time engaging with their apps on the go. So it is no surprise that for the first time in 2015, mobile will surpass desktop in display ad spending in the US, increasing from $9.65 billion in 2014 to $14.67 billion in 2015. Meanwhile, desktop display ad spend will decline in 2015, falling to $12.38 billion, from $12.56 billion last year.

Autonomous marketing platforms are creating a new and better way of advertising.  As a result, we see a new definition of advertising – one based on pure technology, where completely accurate personal and profile data enables more relevant conversations for consumers and endless targeting solutions for advertisers to connect with their audience. And the best part is that all of these attributes can be run at huge scale. What does this mean for the future of display advertising?  As is the case for all evolution, those who adapt will survive.

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