Where’s Ad Tech Headed in 2018?  Five Things Marketers Need to Know



This is not another ad tech prediction article declaring the year of mobile (every year is the year of mobile now) or the year that the entire industry transacts on viewable impressions (2014-2017).

This is also not the year the block chain fixes the fraud problems in digital marketing (sorry).

But like every other year, we will make some incremental advances that I think we’ll be able to look back on as turning points.


AI and machine learning specifically are already a big part of programmatic and now almost everyone claims to have their own AI/ML special sauce.  This year, AI will start showing up in a lot of other areas of the marketing eco system.  With everyone saying that they have AI, or claiming to have the best AI, it’s time to open up those black boxes and show everyone what’s inside.  Some folks have real tech while others are only promoting smoke and mirrors (basic algorithms with limited customization).  The firms that are able to demonstrate how their AI works and show how it has an impact will rise to the top.

From AI to AR (Augmented Reality)

2018 will be the year of AR, not VR. Those that have used VR know it is still large, clunky and not something that everyone can engage with wherever they are, whereas everyone with a mobile device can engage in AR.  Niantic proved this with Pokémon Go and we’ll see it again with the launch of their Harry Potter experience later this year.  AR will begin to take off from a marketing standpoint as brand marketers embrace AR experiences. As we see iOS and Android extend their capabilities of AR Ki and AR Core respectively, more and more apps will take advantage of these and we will see wider networks of apps the support AR rich media ads.

Fraud: Same as It Ever Was – Block Chain Has No Impact on Fraud in 2018

I appreciate those doing the hard work to see how they can fit block chain technology into the programmatic ad buying process, but it’s still the early days and we won’t see exchanges and DSPs rolling out those capabilities this year.  We will see wider adoption of ads.txt, but there is still work to do.   Just because a publisher is hosting an ads.txt file on their site does not mean that’s it having an impact.  For many publishers there is a mismatch between what’s represented in the ads.txt file and how they appear in exchanges, creating a heavy lift for buyers to align those data sets and effectively use ads.txt.  By the end of 2018 we will still see the same media articles declaring that Fraud network or Bot X caused millions of dollars of ad fraud. Ads.txt will address some cases of fraud, but those fraudulent impressions will just move elsewhere.

3rd Party Data Shake Up

Generally available segments around broad data categories have little impact on the success of campaigns, and smart marketers will move away from using these in 2018.  Many of these segments are opaque with little information about the source of the data or how frequently it is updated.  Instead they will rely on effective AI and focus on doing data deals or joining data co-ops or consortiums to pool ids and extend the data they have already.  Marketers that have their own DMPs will be buying direct data elements that they want with clear sourcing from data marketplaces like Narrative I/O.

Performance Buying Models

Offline to online attribution is nothing new, but Agencies, Publishers, and DSPs that are willing to put their money where their mouth is and transact on real word, performance-based metrics will come out ahead in 2018.  Transacting on a cost per real world action like sale or incremental visit removes fraud and viewability from the equation, because bots don’t purchase or visit, and unseen impressions are not paid for. To do this well legitimate third-party measurement providers must be engaged in the process and aligned with the media.  Companies like Placed, Commerce Signals and Barometric, among others make this possible. Sellers that are able to align their media and this third-party reporting can demonstrate direct impact on topline for markets for every dollar spent.  That is a story every CMO wants to hear.

By: Matthew Groner, SVP of Product and Business Intelligence, AdTheorent



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