For marketers, 2016 was a year of innovation and change. But while some of the most prominent challenges and trends were familiar, new issues kept emerging. Here’s a look at five of the most critical challenges from the past year.
Ad Fraud Is Still a Big Problem
The U.S. has one of the worst ad fraud rates in the world. This year, it’ll cost the industry more than $7 billion in ad dollars — up, once again, from 2015.
On the bright side, as the problem has grown, so has awareness among advertisers. This has led to supply-side changes, with publishers eliminating high-risk, potentially fraudulent inventory. We’re also seeing more industry-wide standards and incentives in place than two years ago. Together, these things are turning the tide — albeit slowly.
As fraud lingers, however, marketers might look at other channels that have more inherent engagement and audience buy-in — such as mobile apps and email — to launch campaigns.
Marketers Are Stuck on Data Collection
Today, more than 92 percent of marketers collect information on customers or prospects. Data-driven marketing is now the industry standard. But we’re still stuck idling at data collection. Most marketers are just learning how to crawl when it comes to making data actionable at-scale, and 2016 didn’t see much progress in that direction. When it comes to data implementation, an alarming number of marketers still lack the internal experience — either at the functional or operational level — to be successful. This will change as marketing tools evolve to self-service. Others will offer machine-learning capabilities to drive immediate applications of the customer data.
Marketing Software Is Too Hard to Use
In 2016, technology’s ease-of-use has become a much bigger focus for the marketing industry. As the customer journey becomes more complicated, employing more and more touchpoints and data, software-supported marketing needs to be simplified. This will optimize adoption and support ROI.
A Spotlight on Geospatial Data
The year 2016 was the year of Pokémon Go. And, despite a fade down the stretch, its overall popularity — including 55 million users in its first month — makes one thing very clear: Location-based data is still the key to understanding customer context, as mobile becomes the dominant screen.
From traditional channels like email to more bleeding-edge platforms like augmented reality, virtual reality and 360-degree video, location data powers insights on how to best engage customers in a more personalized way through mobile. That’s why 2016 will go down as the year most advertisers realized just how critical geospatial data will be for the future.
Open Platforms That Speak to Each Other
More than 50 percent of marketers are using five to 10 technology platforms. Another 30 percent use 11 to 16 platforms.
Even as vendor consolidation exists in the market, it will take years for these platforms to truly unify. The key, in the interim, is openness and technological agnosticism. Programmatic platforms, marketing automation services and other solutions need to be able to talk to each other.
During 2016, the marketing industry experienced numerous challenges related to fraud, data and the many available technology platforms. It’s up to advertisers to determine the best strategies for handling these challenges in 2017.