Predictions Series 2021: AdTech is Moving Unbelievably Fast to Dislodge Cookies and Everything Else You Use to Track Consumer Behavior

Consumer behavior is a hot-topic in 2020. It would remain so in 2021 as well. One of the biggest outcomes of the COVID-19 crisis is the demand for a user data revolution that is pushing Ethical web scraping needs among the C-suite decision-makers.

We are back with our popular “Prediction Series” for the coming year. In the current year, we endured a tough economic and pandemic crisis that left us eons trailing behind our targets and plans — but, does time stop? We know the answer, isn’t it! In Part 1 of AdTech trends predictions series, we are featuring opinion and leadership insights from some of the leading industry analysts and experts who have witnessed the times change and technologies evolve from close quarters.

In today’s Predictions Series, we spoke to the following leaders on the blazing topic of the adtech evolution in a Cookie-free economy that almost got pressed between our lifetime’s biggest pandemic crisis and data privacy regulations around the world.

Consumer Behavior Analytics: The Dramatic Rise of CDPs, AI-based Behavioral Tracking and Contextual Tracking

In a recent Martech interview, Oracle Retail’s Mike Webster said, “Today, technology has enabled new ways of collecting data. Not only can retailers tap into how consumers are behaving by demographics, but retailers can now tap into the psychographics of a consumer to learn more about what they are thinking.”

User behavior has changed significantly during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. There has been a culture shift in the way consumers see their favorite brands and shopping marketplace across all viable contactless and digital platforms.

Supermarkets? Closed.

Gaming arenas? Closed.

Fast-food joints? Closed.

Sporting stadiums? Closed.

Events auditoriums? Closed.

Theme parks? Closed.

But, what would hurt the digital advertisers the most? Third-party Cookies — because they are also going out of business. That’s why so many of the executives find cookie-less economy trends to be the biggest disruptors in the adtech business.

Forced to Confront the Impending Cookie-Pocalypse

Philip Smolin

Philip Smolin, Chief Strategy Officer, Amobee

For the first half of 2021, we’re going to see many of the COVID-19 questions we’re confronting now remain top-of-mind. Will cases continue to surge?

When will a vaccine be broadly available? When will businesses truly be able to re-open safely and return to a more normal state? Consequently, brands will be managing highly volatile audience and regional dynamics on a monthly or even weekly basis. The back half of 2021 will see a pivot, with the industry forced to confront the impending cookie-pocalypse.

Given the increasingly privacy-sensitive world we’re living in, progressive, forward-looking advertisers will be (and are already) embracing opt-in, panel-based solutions that reduce reliance on the third-party cookie and mobile IDFAs. Regardless of what replaces the cookie, it’s time that ad tech truly thinks differently about the direction of the industry with regard to identity and personalization — and embraces new technologies instead of relying on ones that are decades old and purpose-built for the browser-based world.

Read More on Amobee’s News

AI is a Master-piece: Personalization is Still Key to Success in COVID-19 Times

Desta Price, Executive Vice President, Product Management at Sitecore
Desta Price, Executive Vice President, Product Management at Sitecore

Desta Price, executive vice president of product, Sitecore had said, “The ability to personalize at scale is now a must-have, and the only real way for brands to accomplish this while accelerating time to value is to leverage AI. We want to make it easy and cost-manageable for our customers to benefit from the power of AI, so we’re integrating our personalization innovation directly into our digital experience platform, giving customers access to the tools they need to quickly share personalized messages en masse.”

With Cookies Gone, Can the Advertising Industry Service That Surge in Demand for the OOH Inventory?

James Heller, co-founder and CEO, Wrapify

Should a COVID-19 vaccine become available in 2021, I believe there will be a huge spike in the demand for out-of-home (OOH) advertising. Next year, we will see not only a rebound but a swift realization of OOH growth that was originally predicted for 2020. Brands will shift away from the heavy use of digital mediums and allocate more spend towards OOH for a fresh advertising channel. With growth comes challenges for the OOH industry, and the real question will be: can the industry service that surge in demand for OOH inventory?

Gaming Community is a Viable AdTech Target

Jonathan Harrop
Jonathan Harrop
Jonathan Harrop, Senior Director – Global Marketing & Communications, AdColony

2020 is the year that marketers at large started to finally pay attention to gaming and gamers. 2021 will continue that trend onward and accelerate it with new, more powerful phones bringing even more “mainstream” gaming brands and titles (like League of Legends, thanks Apple!) out of the living room and onto the street/subway/bus/cafeteria. Likewise, more casual titles will keep growing as people continue to adjust to more freedom and small gaps of downtime working from home long-term.

Contextual Targeting: Establishing Digital Fingerprinting as a Cookie-less Alternative

Kasper Skou, CEO and Co-Founder, Semasio

2021 will see a handful of post third-party cookie solutions establishing themselves as different ‘passports’ a user can exhibit behavior under.

Kasper Skou, CEO, Semasio
Kasper Skou, CEO, Semasio

Our job is to stitch those behaviors together into a unified view of the user while simultaneously enabling communication of the resulting targeting information about each user to the relevant activation platforms under the ‘passport(s)’ each accepts. If that gets us to 25% user identifiability after 2021, contextual targeting will become significantly more important and experience bouts of innovation that resides in the intersection between user and page-level targeting. If we get to 50% identifiability user-level targeting, it will continue to have strong legs of its own — which means user and page-level targeting will share the stage, affording even more potent syntheses between the two to create qualitatively new targeting solutions.

Connected TV: Putting Digital Content where it Belongs

Alex Khan, Group Managing Director, International, Unruly

Alex Khan

A significant increase in the number of CTV devices and apps, combined with more time spent at home, has fuelled unprecedented levels of CTV consumption in 2020. In response, CTV ad platforms and data providers have accelerated the development of new creative and targeting solutions to provide advertisers with agile, data-driven CTV ad opportunities. This industry-wide investment has not only delivered better results for advertisers, with a recent Unruly study finding CTV viewers are 42% more likely to buy a product compared to the average TV viewer, but also a more favorable user experience. 77% of UK consumers now say they prefer to watch TV shows for free with ads than pay for ad-free content. Proof points like these will encourage more ad spend to flow into CTV.

The early success of CTV from both a consumer and an advertising perspective will result in next year’s media plans looking very different to anything we’ve seen before. For the first time, media planners will be armed with data that provides insight into the incremental reach and performance across TV and digital. Linear campaigns will become more strategic, and digital campaigns will become more refined, improving multi-channel efficiency.

We’ll See More News About First-Party Data and Identity Graphs as Ad Tech Vendors Entering This New Paradigm

Jim Johnson, VP, Account Planning,
Jim Johnson, VP, Account Planning,
Jim Johnson, VP, Account Planning,

One of the more prominent themes we can expect during 2021 is more negotiations between ad tech vendors and browser operators as third-party cookies depreciate over the next year or so. Google’s “Privacy Sandbox” framework has accelerated this, and it’s likely that we’ll see more news about first-party data and identity graphs as ad tech vendors enter this new paradigm.

Household targeting, omnichannel video and CTV will take center stage as marketers enhance their focus on the “sphere of influence” impacting most buying decisions, understanding that consumers often look to family and friends for advice before making purchases. This is especially true for big-ticket items such as cars and vacations, but also for daily decisions such as which restaurants to order from, which movies to watch, or which nearby stores carry the best wine selection. This underscores the importance of localization within creative messaging as well, as studies show most consumers fulfill daily purchases close to home. Additionally, consumers are increasingly buying online to pick up in store (BOPIS), and looking to support local businesses as communities around the country recover from the pandemic.

Look out for the Part 2 of the Predictions Series 2021 in adtech edition.

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