2020 Predictions: Advertisers Take A Creativity First Approach, Publishers Brace For The CCPA And Brands Head To The Racetrack

11 Unruly experts share their big predictions for the advertising industry in 2020

1 – Advertisers Will Realise The Importance Of Getting Creative Right

Norm Johnston, CEO

Over the past year the abandonment of the cookie, the shift away from traditional KPIs like viewability, and the realisation that formats should complement each other rather than compete all indicate we’re focusing on the wrong parts of the advertising process. When talking to global advertisers, the one thing they complain about time and time again is the lack of creativity in important areas like programmatic. Martin Sorrell knows this and it’s why over the past year he’s bought companies like Media Monks and Mighty Hive that assist clients with this particular need.

A study from Nielsen recently looked into the parts of the advertising process that had the most impact on whether an ad campaign is successful or not. By breaking it down, it found that context made up 2%, targeting 9%, recency 5%, reach 22%, brand 15% and creativity 47%.

After all, you can select all the right formats, target the perfect audience, all in a premium environment, but if your creative doesn’t stand up, it’s all for nothing. My prediction for next year is that as advertisers continue to realise the importance of getting the creative right has on marketing and business outcomes, we will see a shift back to putting creativity first. And I for one can’t wait to see some of the amazing work that will be produced.

2 – It Will Be All Change For SSPs

Paul Gubbins, Global Programmatic Strategy Lead

Next year we’re going to see the top legacy display SSPs continue to adopt new formats like audio, OTT and DOOH. This will need to happen as they fight to differentiate beyond cost, features and service. Mobile spend is predicted to reach a massive $250 billion by 2021, and as it continues to grow, mobile SSPs will champion the benefits of parallel bidding in 2020 (header bidding for in-app), which has the potential to really shake up the mobile ecosystem.

As new streaming giants enter the arena, including Apple and Disney, video SSPs will work hard to promote their connected TV capabilities and the benefits of unified auctions for instream and outstream. We’ve seen this happen recently at Unruly with the UnrulyX and Ozone Project partnership. Next year we’ll also see more talk from video SSPs around the benefits of running sound-off video executions over sound-on, especially as browsers move closer to prohibiting autoplay and sound on ads.

3 – Brands and Advertisers Will Benefit From A Connected Future

Nick Woodford, Global Marketing & Engagement Manager

As 5G continues its global rollout in 2020 and becomes more widely accessible it will make future-facing formats like AR, VR interactive and shoppable more accessible to brands and advertisers. It has load times 20 times faster than its predecessor, ‘making this the first G designed for things rather than people’ (The Drum). With the IoT becoming better connected, advertisers will be able to push their messages seamlessly across different outputs and devices.

Faster connections will also mean we’ll use the internet more than ever before, allowing brands to access and collect much more data on us, such as what foods we eat, when we sleep, where we spend our time and what clothes we like to wear. They will then use this data to retarget us with contextually-relevant ads, delivered at the optimum time in the optimum environment on the optimum device.

4 – Sustainability Goals Will Take Centre Stage For Advertisers

Nicola Spooner, VP Strategy

With 2019’s headlines dominated by the Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg, plus the palm oil crisis in Indonesia causing worrying levels of deforestation, it’s likely the world’s biggest advertisers will want to show their support for consumers’ climate and environment concerns.

Major companies, including Nestle, Mars, PepsiCo and Unilever, have already committed to buying palm oil from companies that don’t participate in deforestation. Unilever has also tasked themselves with ambitious and socially-important sustainability measures.

The company has set itself three main goals to achieve by 2020: 1. To help one billion people improve their health and wellbeing; 2. To improve the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people in the supply chain; 3. To halve the environmental footprint of the group’s products. UnrulyEQ data also tells us that videos which tell stories linked to “social good” are more likely to resonate emotionally with audiences aged 25-35, driving profitability for brands in the long-term.

5 – Sports Events And US Election To Drive Up Global Ad Spend

David Waterhouse, Global VP Communications

With 2020 hosting the Tokyo Olympics, UEFA European Football Championships, the 54th Super Bowl and the US Elections, it certainly promises to be a highly competitive year in adland. But with all these events expected to fuel a 6% increase in global ad spend (source: WARC), the rivalries won’t be limited to just the ballot box, running track or football fields.

Brands will once again be battling for our hard-won attention during the Summer Games and Super Bowl Sunday, while Nike and adidas will renew hostilities during Euro 2020. Meanwhile, the 2020 US Presidential Election is expected to drive record levels of ad spend, with candidates investing more ad dollars into channels outside of traditional TV.

6 – Privacy Regulations Will Go Global

Kelly Jacobson Collins, Global Product Compliance Director

If you thought 2018 or 2019 were years dominated by greater privacy regulation, then just wait for 2020, which will see the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) come into effect on January 1. When the GDPR launched, some American ad tech companies scaled back their European businesses and publishers blocked EU users, but now privacy practices will need to be embedded firmly within US businesses. In the first 12 months following the GDPR coming into force 9,518 complaints were made to data protection authorities, with Google receiving the biggest fine of $50m!

California isn’t alone in the introduction of a new privacy law. Other US states, as well as countries such as Brazil and South Korea, have all either recently introduced or will introduce privacy laws impacting data sharing next year. In 2020 the European Union’s ePrivacy Regulation will also likely progress through the European Legislative system. But it’s not just regulation that will impact the privacy balance, changes to browsers continue and Google is expected to release its own third-party cookie blocking technology, which it is currently testing in Chrome Canary. Consumer awareness is also catching up and as people begin to understand the impact that the IoT has on their privacy, demands for better privacy will be reflected in product innovation.

7 – Advertisers’ Approach To Social Media Will Change

Mikael Englund, Commercial Director, Nordics

Although the majority of internet users use social media, over the past two years we’ve seen a real decrease in popularity and trust in the big platforms, especially in Germany. According to EMarketer, the growth of Facebook users in Germany and France aged 12-17 will see a 9.1% year-on-year decrease (a loss of 170,600 users) next year.

2020 will be the year advertisers look beyond the short-term impact of social media ecosystems and team up with trusted partners that can deliver campaigns that reach audiences on a wider scale, through a more tactile approach. Next year we will start to see the rise and takeover of real mobile-first strategies. With the immense growth of mobile, combined with a lack of trust in social media, advertisers will use their social content for broader mobile comms and look to alternative solutions to deliver their powerful mobile stories outside of the big walled gardens.

8 – Consumers Will Become More Wary Of The Impact Tech Has On Society

Zainab Engineer, Global Creative & Brand Strategy Director

A number of tech companies have emerged over the past decade that have completely disrupted the industries they operate within. Airbnb has changed the holiday sector; Uber the way we travel; Deliveroo the way we eat; not to mention the plethora of social media platforms that have revolutionised the way we communicate. In 2020 many more tech companies will emerge to take advantage of industries they believe need revamping. However, we need to be mindful of the impact they can have.

A number of companies, including Uber and Facebook, have come under increasing pressure over the past year as consumers consider the negative impact they’ve had on their respective industries and society as a whole.

Over the summer, Uber lost over $5Bn in one quarter, while earlier this year, Edison reported an estimated drop of 15 million fewer Facebook users in the U.S. in 2019 than in 2017. Instagram is currently testing removing ‘like’ counts from posts to see what impact it has on users’ experiences on the platform amid concerns that ‘like’ counts on posts encourage unhealthy competition between users. As we move into 2020 and users become more aware of how tech is being used, companies will need to take into account the impact their products and services will have if they want to survive.

9 – We’ll See A Move To Zero Tolerance To Fraud

Jess King, Global Director, Trust and Digital Best Practice Ops

2019 has already seen an increased amount of pressure on the industry to tackle ad fraud and put an end to dollars wasted on invalid traffic. The cybersecurity company Cheq has predicted that by the end of 2019 over $30 billion will have been lost to ad fraud. 2020 will see a push for zero tolerance, using blocking technologies as standard to protect delivery upfront rather than retrospectively.

A number of companies are leading the charge in working to reduce the amount of money that is lost to ad fraud. JICWEBS, in the UK, and TAG, in the US, set standards that companies can be audited to, increasing transparency around how they operate.

However, they rely on companies from across the industry adopting the standards and coming together to hold each other accountable. In order to reduce the amount of fraud in 2020 this will need to continue to happen, and publishers, advertisers and brands will need to work more closely in order to tackle this issue head on.

10 – We’ll Finally Understand How To Use Short Form Video Effectively

Christoph Thielecke, Managing Director, DE

In 2020 mobile video will continue to grow at an exponential rate. According to EMarketer, Germany alone will have more than 29 million mobile phone video viewers by the end of 2019, a figure expected to increase by 1.3 million in 2020. As mobile video continues to grow and attention spans diminish, there will be even more focus on getting short form video right.

The main question advertisers need to ask is are you going to create a bespoke 6-second ad or chop down an existing long-form asset? Although the 6 second ad is now widely used and understood by advertisers, many still fall into the trap of cutting down their full-length ads without carrying out the necessary research into which parts of the ad are most effective at driving the desired KPIs. In 2020 we will see advertisers begin to understand this process much better.

11 – Regulators And Watchdogs Will Take A Closer Look At The Antics Of The Duopoly

Lou Nylander, Global Marketing Director

2019 continued to highlight many of the misdemeanours of internet behemoths. Who can forget the grilling that Mark Zuckerberg endured by congressmen and congresswomen? Zuckerberg has since found himself back before Congress answering questions twice more during 2019. The Netflix movie, ‘The Big Hack’ demonstrates to the masses, what internet companies like Facebook and Google, can do with their browsing history and internet behaviours and how this misuse and malpractice has shaped current affairs and politics in both the UK and the other side of the pond.

However, although there has been an increased awareness by the general public and The words ‘Cambridge Analytica’ is pretty much synonymous with scandal, regulators have not as yet curbed the power possessed by the duopoly. However, I believe that 2020 will be the time where regulators take a strong stance and take a closer look at their abuses, the monopoly of power and make a real statutory and legal change to prevent further misuse and curb their digital dominance.

Recently it was reported by CBS, that in the US, the state attorneys general is investigating a possible 47 antitrust cases by Facebook and there are strong calls by lobbyists to break up the social network. In the UK, there is speculation that the monopolies watchdog has been looking into power possessed by Google over concerns it is suffocating competition online. Only time will tell, but 2020 may be the year where big tech giants receive a big stick from regulators.