2021 has been difficult for mobile advertisers, with a range of measures introduced that have made it harder for them to reach their audiences. But these measures also present new opportunities for marketers in 2022. Levi Matkins, CEO at LifeStreet, shares his views on what the coming year will look like for the mobile advertising industry.
Continuous innovation in 2022
This year has shown Apple’s reluctance to police fingerprinting of app users. This is an obvious hole that we expect to see addressed in the next 12 months, which would trigger large-scale reactions in the industry. DSPs currently rely heavily on impression-to-conversion models, and the removal of all end user data from the equation may fundamentally break that type of modeling capability. In the worst case scenario, we may see a full regression to click-through rate models, and measurements based on the intent behind clicks.
There is too much at stake – both technologically and financially – for advertisers not to react. Adtech is known for its ability to bounce back from the changes enacted by platform makers, so if Apple does crack down on fingerprinting in 2022, we expect that there will be some really strong, innovative moves made by independent adtech businesses with the flexibility to introduce updates to their models and buying strategies.
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Game studios are the new ‘hot property’
The next huge trend that will hit the adtech industry in 2022 comes in the form of a range of M&A moves, which also took place last year. Across the ecosystem, we will see a continuation of the patterns that emerged in 2021: larger game studios and adtech players acquiring smaller games studios as a way to own a greater share of Identifiers for Vendors (IDFVs). Despite the limited data that is available to them, this data acquisition strategy will allow studios to pull information from a greater number of contextual signals which will help them make better user profiles in a way that is compliant with the user privacy protection measures introduced by Apple in 2021.
The companies that are making acquisitions of this kind are creating their own mini ecosystems and, in doing so, preparing themselves for when Apple starts enforcing its own rules on fingerprinting.
Increased transparency will generate stronger performance – for DSPs and marketers
As advertisers get smarter, their demands on technology and what it can deliver have increased. In 2022, with a growing percentage of untrackable inventory, performance marketers will want to have more control over their ad spend, and greater transparency and visibility of where their money is going. As always, when advertising with the most dominant platforms, there is a trade-off between their effectiveness and the amount of data or visibility advertisers receive in return. With the massive decline in these platforms’ ability to accurately target users, it looks like there will be a migration of spend towards DSPs who are willing to offer marketers greater transparency.
If the likes of Facebook, Amazon and Google are unable to generate strong ROAS for advertisers, I think we will see advertisers try to set up their own ad inventory buying strategies: a move that probably won’t end well because of the amount of time and resources it takes to develop and maintain a DSP and programmatic buying’s long learning curve.
The most successful advertisers will be those who are willing to work with trusted experts to build campaigns collaboratively. These campaigns – built with input from both sides – will stop advertisers from wasting their time and resources, and help them build a level of expertise in the technical side of the marketing game.
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Brands will embrace gaming apps to advertise mass appeal products
As marketers react to user privacy and tracking changes made by Apple in 2021, we expect that campaigns with specific goals, but broad audience appeal, will have the most resilience to the changes in targeting tactics. The likely result of this is that there will be a significant rise in non-gaming campaigns on mobile gaming apps in 2022. Gaming apps provide a stable, trusted environment for advertisers, with guaranteed levels of engagement. Given that these apps are now on nearly every phone, this means advertisers have access to a diverse audience with a huge reach.
Advertisers who are able to leverage widespread appeal are already having – and will continue to experience – huge success in in-app advertising. In a world with less accurate targeting tools, it is highly likely that this year we will see an increased number of brands shift their performance campaigns and ad spend in-app.
As an industry, advertising technology will continue to flourish, with GroupM predicting growth of 9.7% in the advertising sector in 2022. There will be continuous innovation spurred by regulatory reforms and changing user exepctations. We’ll see a more user-centric approach in how marketers advertise, develop new ad formats, and work together with their partners. Last but not least, the buzz around the metaverse will only get louder as advertisers eagerly access new ad placements and the next-generation of consumers. 2021 was eventful, and if we build on the lessons learned we will be well prepared for the predictable, and predictably unpredictable year ahead.