Machine-Driven Marketing: The Future of AdTech Automation

By Aqilliz  

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Machine driven marketing

As technologies continue to evolve, automation remains the name of the game. In no area is this more evident than programmatic advertising — the automated buying and selling of digital display space. Though much has been said about its persistent flaws, the fact is, it continues to play a significant foundational role in digital advertising as we know it. This year, 89 percent of all US ad spend found its way to programmatic buys, pointing to its enduring dominance in the industry today.

Unfortunately, the programmatic supply chain remains rife with points for exploitation. Ad fraud perhaps continues to be the most rampant, costing advertisers up to US$51 million a day. Even in historically brand-safe markets such as Singapore and Japan, recent studies have found that the two rank highest in ad fraud when it comes to desktop display at 3 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively — well above the global average of 1 percent. While publishers can certainly protect themselves with fraud-prevention technologies, some of them stand to benefit from poor efficacy. Take Newsweek Media Group — in 2018, the firm was found to have infected its own fraud-detection tools with malware in order to make a dime on bot-generated traffic.

As the state of automation in the advertising ecosystem continues to mature, what lies ahead for the fate of the programmatic supply chain?

Running on autopilot

With a growing number of channels, platforms, and thus, touchpoints across the customer journey, the programmatic ecosystem is only becoming more complex than ever. Coupled with new tools and software on the market, all hoping to enable marketers to make sense of the data, the opportunities to further streamline the programmatic supply chain and its underlying tech stack are certainly great. One approach has been the combined use of artificial intelligence and machine learning — the application of algorithms that can improve and “learn” automatically by repeated experience and exposure to new data.

The word ‘data’ is key here — consider the fact that first-party data is going to become more crucial than ever following the obsolescence of third-party cookies on all major browsers by 2023. AI and machine learning can go a long way in enabling programmatic stakeholders to better simplify the analysis process, all the while ensuring that they can quickly understand who their customers are in real-time. This can help marketers better optimise their campaigns, giving them the right data to make strategic decisions with greater accuracy. With machine learning, marketers can process ever-expanding datasets and patterns — from browsing history, purchase patterns, to likes and swipes — with greater efficiency than an individual person ever could.

Simultaneously, the use of machine learning to detect millions of patterns in fraudulent inventory can play a critical role in ensuring greater rates of return on ad spend. According to ad fraud prevention firm TrafficGuard, machine learning is forecast to save global app developers and advertisers over US$10 billion in wasted spend by 2022.

Pre-encoding the terms of engagement

Another technology that has gradually made the rounds in AdTech is blockchain. That’s right, the backbone to cryptocurrencies and the emerging trend of NFTs that has seemingly permeated every marketer’s strategy in recent months. In the advertising context, blockchain serves as the underlying foundation — a single source of truth — to attest to the veracity of every single transaction or impression in a campaign.

A distributed ledger of transactions, blockchain is distinguished for its emphasis on automation, transparency, efficiency, and provenance. On a blockchain, all authorised participants within the campaign environment can view all the transactions taking place, all of which are recorded on a distributed, immutable ledger. In addition, advertisers can also be assured that they’re only ever paying for ads that were served in brand-safe environments. How? Smart contracts — self-executing agreements — that are pre-encoded terms that establish the standards by which the contract will execute can be utilised to validate the quality of each and every impression.

From ensuring that every context meets a specific standard of brand safety determined by a brand to specific on-page metrics that ensure that ads were served in verifiably viewable environments, smart contracts can go a long way in the quality assurance process, even within the already automated programmatic system.

Opportunities on the horizon

The advertising industry will need to confront the realities of an increasingly complex future — one underpinned by mounting cybersecurity risks and the proliferation of bad actors looking to exploit the inherent complications of the programmatic model. As we transition to an increasingly digitalised state of affairs, consumer habits will change irrevocably — even the display ads of today may very well be irrelevant amid the rise of social commerce and livestreamed shopping. With so many touch points now comprising the average shopper’s journey, marketers need the right tools to best understand and interpret the resulting data — all while keeping the ethics of customer data use in mind. To stay ahead, marketers need to invest in the right technologies — in better technologies — that can best address the threats of today, as well as those of tomorrow.


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