2019 will continue that trend, according to a new report by market research firm Forrester, which predicts not only more M&A action, but also trends like blockchain becoming more mainstream.
“We feel that there are specific events and trends that will take place in 2019 – specifically around further M&A, blockchain introducing itself into advertising, creative supporting personalization and Facebook having to rely more heavily on Instagram and WhatsApp for growth,” Collin Colburn, B2C marketing analyst at Forrester, told Business Insider.
But on a macro level, the biggest battleground for media in 2019 will be control for digital advertising dollars, he said. Amazon, AT&T, Verizon, and Disney have all made moves to counter the Facebook-Google duopoly, and will vie for their position with their technology stacks, distribution, and content capabilities.
“Google and Facebook will start to feel this competition in 2019, and we will be watching to see if cracks begin forming in the foundation of the empires they have both built,” Colburn said.
Here are the five events that will reshape media ad advertising in 2o19, according to Forrester:
AT&T will buy Roku to become a TV platform
By snapping up Time Warner, AppNexus, and DirectTV, AT&T pieced together the content, technology, and distribution pipes needed to challenge the duopoly as well as rival TV networks. But to truly become a viable threat, it needs to become a bigger part of consumers’ daily lives.
AT&T will do that by acquiring Roku, Forrester predicts, as the acquisition will not only give it tremendous scale but also help it complement its new targeted advertising division, Xandr.
“Buying Roku is a natural next step for AT&T after their acquisitions of Time Warner and AppNexus in 2018,” Colburn said.
Instagram and WhatsApp will save Facebook
The platform isn’t growing at the pace it once was either, with monthly active users (MAUs) being flat in the second quarter of 2018 in North America and falling in Europe, coupled with decelerated ad revenue growth.
But the company can’t be dismissed yet, according to Forrester, with Instagram quickly emerging as its shining star with more than 1 billion monthly active users and a user growth rate outpacing Facebook’s.
“In 2019, we predict that Instagram will continue to pick up the slack while Facebook hones in on Messenger and WhatsApp to accelerate user and ad revenue growth for the parent company,” the authors of the report write. “Messaging apps for one-on-one consumer interactions and advertising are still uncertain territory for brands but are increasing in interest — and Facebook will deliver.”
Blockchain will become mainstream in advertising
From ads that get clicked on by bots, to hidden fees and an overalllack of transparency,the digital ad ecosystem has been under fire of late on a number of fronts.
A number of big brands and marketers are attempting to fight that by betting onblockchain, the distributed ledger technology that underpins the cryptocurrency bitcoin.
By the end of 2019, advertisers will be able to follow every dollar that leaves their coffers, Forrester predicts, and be able to see exactly how much they are paying, and for what, at every step of the way.
Big brands like Kellogg’s, Kimberly-Clark, Pfizer, and Unilever are already leading the way by participating in a blockchain pilot program powered by IBM and Media Ocean that aims to bring complete transparency to media-buying.
“Blockchain will make an important entrance in 2018, by exposing the value and costs of all the steps in the media supply chain,” Colburn said. “But it will be a couple of years before blockchain is ready to make the impact that marketers are really looking for – impression-level reporting that will expose advertising fraud.”
Hyper-targeting will give way to hyper-focus on creative
The rollout ofGDPRsent many advertisers scrambling, casting a shadow on a future where they could hyper-target media, especially those brands lacking in first-party customer data.
But as the use of consumer data comes under increasing scrutiny, the focus, at least for advertisers, will turn back to powerful creative, according to Forrester.
In 2019, advertisers will start turning to creative adtech vendors like RevJet and Thunder to create contextually relevant ads cued by both first-party data, as well as data around the weather, time of day, and live events.
Creative adtech will also improve ad quality and cross-channel storytelling. More brands will refrain from stalking consumers around the internet with cheap-looking, product-focused display ads, according to Forrester.
“Despite what marketers and advertisers think, the media industry isn’t nearly as customer-obsessed as it could be,” Colburn said. “I am most bullish on advertisers trading in their hyper-targeting obsession for a hyper-focus on creative in advertising – it will improve both the customer experience and overall results.”
A bidding war will break out for LiveRamp, and Google will take the cake
Several players – from Adobe and Salesforce to ad holding companies – have had their eyes on LiveRamp since Axciom’s data marketing services were acquired by IPG.
The competition is only going to heat up more, with a huge bidding war breaking out for LiveRamp, according to Forrester.
Forrester thinks the ultimate winner at the end though will be Google, which will outbid everyone with its trove of cash, making LiveRamp’s data available for customers using its newly branded and consolidated adtech stack, Google Marketing Platform.
“With these acquisitions, the big keep getting bigger,” Colburn said.