Crazy how fast time flies. Right ? it feels as if we were just recently wearing masks, and worrying about social distancing, but we are already at the edge of 2023. This last year has been a year of change: from TV to CTV, from IDFA to SKAdNetwork, from Cookies to Cakes, and one can’t talk about 2023 without mentioning AI and LLM.
As the year comes to an end, the digital marketing landscape is ready for another transformation in the year 2024. From the continued rise of CTV/OTT advertising inventories, to the inevitable demise of user level attribution with the privacy manifest and privacy sandbox.
Let's go through a journey through the trends that will prosper during the year to come.
Apple announced App Tracking Transparency back in 2020, and deployed this in 2021, however, while IDFA tracking was limited to a single digit percent of users , mobile attribution solutions continue tracking users via fingerprinting.
Most mobile app companies were affected, but given that the attribution solutions continued fingerprinting against Apple’s policies meant that the majority of app developers were able to remain happy and in denial of the inevitability.
2024 will be the final nail in the user level attribution coffin. Apple is set to enforce the "Privacy Manifest" in 2024, ushering in an era where fingerprinting user clicks and matching them with conversions becomes a thing of the past. Google will follow suit, deploying the privacy sandbox across web and Android platforms. This move will make non-Google ad platforms struggle with less accurate targeting data, reshaping the digital marketing landscape.
These two extremely meaningful moves send companies to desperately look for alternative solutions for measurement. The smart ones are already using INCRMNTAL , but companies will be attempting their own solutions with GeoLift Experiments, or MMM.
The winners will be those who will adapt an orchestration mode, combining the best out of each major measurement methodology.
We wrote a comprehensive white paper about this topic, quoting leaders from MMPs, and MMM experts: Marketing Measurement Orchestration
Smart companies will rethink their tech stack, embracing a combination of campaign-level attribution, always-on incrementality, and Marketing Mix Modeling (MMM). Internal dashboards will emerge as the command centers for these savvy marketers.
One of the most important skills for marketing organizations is visualization and reporting, taking the insights from granular levels (i.e. attribution) up to the value measurement (i.e. incrementality), and all the way to scenario planning and predictability (MMM).
We also believe that more marketers will consider in-housing programmatic trading. The technology is mature, and market consolidation means that the number of unique sources to connect with and trade through is limited, creating a bigger incentive for companies to adopt the skills to run the show themselves. In-housing programmatic trading allows companies to increase control, and utilize their own 1st party data alongside trusted ad platforms for targeting, segmentation, and optimization.
During the beginning of 2023 , you couldn’t go through a day without hearing some news about CTV and why performance marketers should be storming to test and scale this medium.
But interestingly enough, in the 2nd half of the year, it is as if this topic completely got wiped out of the map.
Many advertisers did “test CTV” by launching small campaigns across various platforms, however, without proper measurement for CTV, and while relying on legacy attribution, most who tested CTV got disappointed by the results.
At INCRMNTAL, we see a lot of CTV and OTT ad spend, but what we see a lot more of is linear TV spends. Linear TV (i.e. “live TV”) is still the king of the TV mediums in terms of both ad spend, and as far as we can see – performance as well.
We do expect that CTV will continue growing in time spend on medium, and as consumers continue with the nasty habit of “dual screening” (watching a video while either watching another video, or while doing other things like working/texting/playing games) – CTV will need to crack the barriers of performance by providing unprecedented performance impact to marketers.
In a way, the loss of user-level data is beneficial for CTV mediums and publishers, as Advertisers move away from user-level attribution to campaign level measurement, CTV has an opportunity to shine, where it would undoubtedly lose in a last-click (race to the bottom) attribution war.
In a world where data is king, publishers with substantial 1st party data will seize the throne. The shift towards turning spaces into advertising havens is evident, especially among major shopping and social platforms. The concept that "Everything is a Network" will become more than just a buzz phrase; it's a tangible reality reshaping the digital advertising game.
Ad Platforms with 1st party user level data always enjoyed an unfair advantage over advertising platforms which relied on 3rd party data.
And in a world where access to 3rd party user level data is almost entirely diminished, the ad platforms which can segment, target, and continuously learn, will continue prospering, while all other advertising platforms will need to rely on contextual targeting, and smart bidding strategies.
This trend will lead to the next trend we foresee
One of the unfair advantages 1st party data allows is a one sided claim over campaign performance. i.e. if an ad platform sees all conversions, and has a direct relationship with a user, they may claim that a conversion came as a result of an ad shown across their inventory.
This form of attribution is considered probabilistic, and given that it uses 1st party data , it is completely allowed and within the rules of engagement in our privacy centric world.
However, Advertisers may quickly find themselves in a reporting conundrum. Attribution data (i.e. MMPs, SKAN, Firebase) will report X conversions, while platform data will report 🍅 conversions. (yes, using a tomato emoji is not a mistake). Advertisers will have no way of deduplicating, nor arguing the approach, as ad platforms will be reporting on their own proprietary 1st party data – data that the Advertiser cannot access using traditional methodologies.
We believe that until there is a defined standard, whether regulated, or just industry accepted, the discrepancies between Advertisers reports and Ad Platform reports will create a tear between both sides.
We also do not expect to see a clear industry standard established within the coming year
In the beginning of 2023, we ran a podcast series titled “Exploring the Multiverse” where we asked industry thought leaders and experts “crazy hypothetical” questions.
Amongst the most common question we asked was: What if the internet which was mostly monetized by ads, goes premium, using an ads free subscription model? Specifically related to Facebook, Instagram, Google and so on.
The “crazy hypothetical” turned out to be not-so-crazy when major platforms started offering subscription services, as compensation for their Signal Loss.
Signal loss is now prompting freemium services to offer premium "ads-free" alternatives globally. The internet, as we know it, may undergo a metamorphosis within the next few years. As services adapt to secure their revenue streams, the landscape of the digital frontier will undoubtedly shift.
Imagine that if 20-30% of users end up exchanging freemium to premium, what impact will this have over advertising budget allocation? How will marketers extend their reach to the users who opt out of advertising all together ?
These are questions for 2025 or even 2026 ☺
AI will be omnipresent in 2024, permeating every facet of digital marketing. From generative AI crafting campaigns to sophisticated measurement techniques, the age of AI is upon us.
Both Google and Meta Ads already announced that generative AI is coming to campaign creation, but we believe that during 2024, we will see the rise of generative AI and LLM across analytics platforms, and DSPs, allowing marketers to use AI to conduct optimizations, aggregate reports, and create visualizations that previously would have taken hours to create.
We are optimistic about the role AI will play in our careers, creating opportunities by increasing efficiencies for those who adopt and develop the skills to utilize this technology.
We at INCRMNTAL are already looking forward to incorporating Generative AI and a Large Language Model in our platform, allowing our customers to prompt questions and get recommendations directly from the heart of the always on incrementality measurement engine:
In the unpredictable world of digital marketing, one thing is certain—change is the only constant. As we stand at the cusp of 2024, these predictions and premonitions provide a glimpse into the exciting, and at times challenging, future of the digital marketing landscape. Stay nimble, stay innovative, and brace yourself for the thrilling ride ahead!