Predictions Series 2022: Media Investments Should be More Responsible, Contextual and Addressable
Media Investments in 2021 are back to pre-COVID days, albeit backed by better ad measurement analytic tools and metrics that enable brands in making a smarter decision related to ad spend. With the arrival of newer ad formats for podcasts, in-gaming apps, and live streaming videos and CTVs, media investments continue to remain a complex territory. And, it will get much more difficult for brand managers in 2022 if they lose focus in delivering effective digital advertising channels to the audience. Ensuring 100% brand safety and transparency have become the biggest challenges for some of the biggest brands in the world. In a volatile socio-economic and politically-inclined world, a brand’s core advertising investments incline largely toward brand safety efforts. As brands look to thrust a larger effort in blocking content related to hate speech, fake propaganda, sexism, vile politics and racism, there is a serious need to look into how CMOs look at the technology stack to ensure a 100% brand-safe environment for their advertising and marketing campaigns.
Today’s Predictions Series is all about media investments, brand safety, and responsible advertising practices.
To discuss these with us, we have Dan Slivjanovski, CMO of DoubleVerify.
Dan is responsible for the DoubleVerify brand globally and oversees all company and product marketing, and sales empowerment efforts. He brings over 20 years of senior operating, strategy, and marketing experience to his role. Prior to joining DV, Dan served as both COO and CMO at RhythmOne (acquired by Tremor), where he helped transform the company into a leading, independent programmatic platform for digital video and connected TV. Previously, Dan served as Executive Vice President of HNW Inc, a strategy consultancy focused on the financial services and luxury sectors, and as Senior Management Consultant with Cap Gemini Ernst & Young. He began his career at APCO Worldwide, a member of WPP’s Grey Group. Dan earned his B.S. from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and his M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Hi Dan, please tell us more about the brand safety benchmarks in digital marketing for 2022.
Dan: The volume of unsafe and unsuitable content online, especially inflammatory rhetoric and fake news, represents a reputation minefield for global advertisers. Unfortunately, that danger is only growing as we head into the 2022 midterms in the US, and presidential elections across the globe, including South Korea, France, Brazil, and more. Ahead of the first caucus and primary events of the 2020 Presidential Election season, we saw a huge increase in traffic for deceptive and sensational political stories. 2022 will be comparable, with bad actors seeking to take advantage of the flood of ad dollars entering the market. Expect to see a huge effort from advertisers to ensure their investments are allocated responsibly, and that they are taking steps to avoid or block ads from appearing alongside disinformation and misinformation online, and from inadvertently funding bad actors.
How can brands become more impactful? How do current media investments influence brand safety efforts?
Dan: Brands should focus on becoming more responsible media investing
Advertisers aren’t just looking to block objectionable content. They’re increasingly focused on responsible media investing — shifting spend to media partners and platforms that take a stance on key social issues or that cover ESG (environmental, social and governance) topics. For example, half to two-thirds of ad briefs received by the BBC are now focused on sustainability. Publishers are meeting the moment by investing in more ESG coverage. In August, for example, media attention around climate change was the highest it has been in 12 years. Publishers are also launching dedicated properties – newsletters and sites – to specifically focus on ESG issues and monetize interest. Next year, marketers will continue to invest in these types of media to build positive brand alignment and halo-build, to the benefit of publishers.
Contextual technology will play a key role here, enabling positive targeting.
How can brands solve the complex issues associated with addressability and contextual targeting, especially when we are hammered by post-cookie debates?
Dan: Companies should think about contextual and beyond to solve addressability.
It’s become somewhat of a tired story that cookies will be deprecated in 2023, but we’ve still yet to identify a sound solution that we all agree on – and it’s more urgent than marketers and publishers are making it out to be. There are other ID changes that aren’t waiting another year to go into effect, so we shouldn’t wait either: iOS is shifting away from identifiers, and many are speculating that even more signals will be exiting the advertising stage shortly. It’s now obviously important to be able to reach customers without behavioral tracking. And, as a result, contextual has become buzzier than ever – presenting a content-based approach to both align brand suitability and reach the right audience. We anticipate adoption of contextual to gain even more momentum in 2022 as the industry continues to grapple with the loss of third-party cookies. However, contextual won’t replace cookies. Rather, the cookie is becoming a pie — replacing it will involve contextual, but also multiple new solutions.
Could you tell us more about the CTV boom and how ad measurement tools would shape the future of adtech industry?
Dan: My message to brands is – verify everywhere!
The world is becoming more and more connected – and along with that connection comes shifts in the consumption of digital media. We’ve seen this take place as CTV booms with consumers, driving a subsequent shift in advertising spend. We’ll continue to see momentum build as more new players and platforms enter the media landscape – the possibilities are endless. From TikTok, to cars, to homes. These new platforms will invite new players, further fragmenting the ecosystem – while providing a multitude of opportunities to reach consumers wherever they are. As this occurs, it will be critical for advertisers to verify on every channel in order to protect their campaigns and investments. Consistent measurement data across channels, formats, platforms, and geographies will be inherently necessary.
How do you relate Ad performance with verification?
Dan: For me, performance is a natural extension of verification.
Disruption In the marketplace is more apparent than ever – content consumption is shifting, privacy regulations are evolving – and with the shift to an increasingly connected world, it will only become more disjointed. The world’s largest brands are struggling to confidently invest their ad dollars, demanding transparency to ensure their dollars are spent wisely. In order to give marketers confidence, verification will extend beyond quality into performance. Verifying quality has always created fertile ground for performance. Now, considering the impact of cookie deprecation, quality will need to be married with attention – and ultimately performance signals — to offer clear insights into where media investment should be made to drive outcomes.