Digital’s Big Year Ahead

Ian Campbell

By Ian Campbell (Head of Digital)

Fear not, the future is bright! There is no doubt that 2017 has been a turbulent year for digital advertising with major challenges presented throughout the year – from the YouTube brand safety concerns in March to the ongoing scepticism about the effectiveness of programmatic advertising. Digital ad spend however has continued to grow with expected growth of circa 13-15% in 2017, having increased by 31% in 2016. Digital buying has come a long way from buying ‘wallpaper’ on a website – it has become a complex multi-channel eco-system underpinned by data and machine learning. The fact is that often, the technology develops more quickly than those who manage it. I believe, now that the industry is entering a stage of maturity, marketers need to mature with it.

Moving forward into 2018, we need to take a breath and focus on improving standards and set ourselves up for future success. For me, the two key pillars for achieving this are transparency and performance. Transparency is key and ensuring that the business’ best interests are at the heart of every media plan. We need to challenge the status quo in terms of accepted industry standards are and strive for better. While the potential of digital channels such as programmatic advertising are incredible, I believe we are still some way from the summit in terms of delivering on expectations. The technology is phenomenal but the planning and execution at this moment is still lagging.

Performance is at the heart of everything we do in digital advertising and being able to tangibly demonstrate the benefit of each channel. This is not always easy but looking into 2018 and the release of Google’s new attribution tool for example, I believe that this will help significantly in the digital planning process. Understanding the importance of display, social, content, search and video at each stage of the consumers’ conversion funnel is paramount to planning better and ultimately delivering better results. Digital is evolving but we need to evolve with it. I have huge confidence in the Irish advertising industry and I do believe that we are adaptive, creative and very hard working. We have learned many lessons in 2017 that will benefit us in 2018 and beyond but we need to recalibrate our approach and continue to develop by striving for better. “Progress is impossible without change and those who cannot change their minds, cannot change anything”. (George Bernard Shaw).