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How the biggest ad tech trends affected marketers in 2021

How the biggest ad tech trends affected marketers in 2021
Written by publishing team

Google Delay Cookie

In another timeline, digital advertisers will be counting down the days until Google shuts down third-party cookies on Chrome, which is set to do by the end of the year. However, in June, Google made a major announcement that it would halt the death of third-party cookies until the end of 2023.

Google’s new timeline was met with mixed feelings in the industry: some brands were eager to leave cookies behind, while others welcomed more time to work on new alternatives. Google is still testing cookie alternatives in the Privacy Sandbox, but it will take longer than expected.

transformation crisis

After Apple’s changes, advertisers reported difficulties in tracking sales on Facebook ad campaigns. Brands have lost the ability to know when an ad on one app has led to a sale on another, which is known as “conversion”.

In September, Facebook told marketers that it had found a bug in its ad platform, which was underreporting conversions by about 15% on Apple devices.

In October, Facebook said Apple’s privacy policies were hurting its potential to make more money from ads in the third quarter. Snapchat also noted the challenges of adapting to Apple, and Zynga stated that Apple’s changes are making it difficult for the gaming company to conduct its mobile marketing.

Watch the 2021 Ad Age’s 2021 Marketers of the Year here.

Retail media is growing

Big retailers like Walmart, Target, CVS, Best Buy and more are trying to grow digital ad networks, blending shopper data and ads. This trend accelerated in 2021, until Albertson’s grocery chain joined the fray.

Walmart has grown its advertising business by launching its own demand-side platform, which it built using The Trade Desk. In October, Kroger unveiled a private software advertising marketplace with Publicis and Nestlé as early advertising partners. Publicis Groupe also bought CitrusAd, a retail media advertising technology company. Online shopping companies such as DoorDash and Instacart formed their advertising teams.

CTV Ad Streams

Connected TV is becoming more and more complex thanks to data flowing through the ecosystem and more money from brands. This year, Disney and NBCUniversal were examples of major media companies that have benefited from increased interest in CTV. After the debut season, when brands struck ad deals with publishers, Disney said 40% of the commitments went to live and digital broadcasts. Ad Age reported that this was a doubling of the number. NBC also said it has secured $500 million in upfront commitments to streaming service Peacock.

Also, major ad technology companies such as The Trade Desk have reported significant increases in ad revenue from connected TV. Innovid, the video advertising technology company, has been floated for an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange.

It wasn’t all rosy, though, as major ad fraud detection firms like WhiteOps, DoubleVerify and Pixalate all uncovered cases of CTV ad fraud.

First and zero party data points

Brands have created more direct relationships with consumers, which has been a direct result of cookie changes and data-sharing restrictions. The more brands get consent from visitors to their websites, the more they will be able to compile profiles to target ads to those customers.

In May, Ad Age reported on cookie bypass marketers, with Procter & Gamble, Unilever and L’Oreal all collecting data on more than one billion consumers.

Zero-end data has also become a hot term in the industry. This is when consumers’ interests are gathered by asking them directly through online surveys, loyalty programs, and other incentives.

One company, DataLucent, even introduced a new program that encouraged consumers to download all their data from Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Twitter to share directly with brands, in exchange for perks.

Apple’s advertising ambitions

In September, Apple again tweaked how data was shared on its devices with the iOS 15 software update. Apple also started building its own advertising products that allowed apps to promote their services in their own App Store.

The ad industry is starting to speculate more seriously about how Apple might try to challenge Facebook with its ad network, beyond just app ads in search results. According to Evercore’s predictions, Apple could become a $20 billion advertising company in no time, if it wanted to.

Advertising identifiers everywhere

Cookie alternatives have originated from companies like Yahoo, The Trade Desk, Lotame, Merkle, Epsilon, Kinesso, LiveRamp, Neustar, and more. These new identifiers can be associated with consumer profiles used for targeting.

Brands are experimenting with more identifiers in order to prepare for the post-cookie world. For example, Doc Martens worked with Lotame’s Panorama ID to target audiences through Digo, a Spanish language publisher. The brand said the identifier helped lower the cost of ads and increase the number of times consumers clicked on ads.

The identifier space suffered a setback when Google postponed the expiration date of cookies, making the transition to identifiers less urgent. But with 2022 approaching, the clock is still ticking.

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publishing team