2020: The Year Publishers and Brands Truly Challenge the Walled Gardens

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This year, the digital ad industry saw challenges to Amazon, Facebook, and Google, new cookie-tracking policies implemented, and the emergence of identity to fill in the gap. Given the volatile climate the industry is weathering, what can we anticipate in 2020?

2020 will be the year the tides change for publishers

The last few years have been a bloodbath for publishers as revenue decreased for them while going up for the likes of Facebook and Google. However, publishers are finally embracing common cause and working together.

The biggest example is publishers embracing the open source prebid auction clearinghouse. Previously, publishers had favored Google’s and Amazon’s solutions, both of which brought publishers diminished returns and handed power over to the industry giants.

Prebid won’t solve every problem for publishers, but it is a symbol that they are fighting back. Expect more consortiums and strategic data sharing in order to mount a defense against the walled gardens.

More retail brands will challenge Amazon

Nike recently announced it was pulling its products from Amazon. Nike was able to do this due to its purchase of Celect, which allowed Nike to bring personalization to its own properties.

Amazon used to have the advantage here, since you would have to log in to Amazon to peruse products, and then products would be shown to the user on a person-by-person level. However, brands are getting smarter about leveraging the vast first-party data they have and creating identity graphs that deliver the ability to personalize ads.

Now, there’s less need for a brand to hand over inventory to Amazon, and brands like Target, Wal-Mart, and Kroger are even thinking about monetizing their own online digital inventory like a news publisher does.

DTCs were just the tip of the iceberg for brands leaving Facebook

A ton has been written this past year about how DTCs were leaving Facebook because of rising prices to advertise on the platform. However, DTCs are famous for being on the cutting edge of marketing, and their choices portend broader industry movements.

Soon, more traditional and less flexible marketers will see that DTCs were the canary in the coal mine. Expect budgets from Automotive, CPGs, political advertising, etc., to shift more and more from Facebook which will, ironically, drive down the cost of advertising on the platform. 

Ad-tech teams and mar-Tech teams are finally working together

Analysts have for years predicted that adtech and martech teams would work together, and 2020 will finally be the year that happens. The death of the third-party cookie means that the teams tasked with launching a wide net to find new customers (advertising) will have to turn to the teams with expertise in handling channels where the user is known and a relationship has been established (marketing) in order to forge a path forward.

Expect more advertisers to leverage technologies that “resolve” unknown audiences to known audiences (via identity graphs and better first-party data in the bidstream for programmatic efforts), and expect more publishers to adopt technology that resolves previously anonymous site visitors into known people, thus driving up the value of their inventory.

We’ve already started to see publishers and brands start to adopt technology that is beyond the reach of the walled gardens. For brands and publishers reexamining their relationships with the walled gardens, the new year is a great time to determine which channels are adding value and are also future-proof. Only those who own first-party data will be in a position to thrive and fight back against industry changes.

Kerel is the Senior Vice President of Global Marketing at LiveIntent. He currently leads the marketing team and works closely with sales, product, engineering and customer success to create awareness and generate leads for key products and features. Kerel has 20 years of digital media experience building and leading Advertising Operations, Account Management, Partnerships & Product Marketing teams. Prior to LiveIntent, Kerel Cooper held positions at Advance Digital as the Senior Director Ad Platform Strategies and JupiterMedia as Director of Advertising Operations. Kerel has his Bachelor’s degree in Management Science/Marketing from Kean University and a MBA from Regis University.