AdTech in 2024: What does the future hold??

It’s that time of year when we reflect on the past 12 months and look forward to what’s to come. As I wrap up the year myself, I thought I would shed some insight into the trends I am most excited about next year. 

Here are just a small few snippets of my 2024 predictions, and what we can look forward to stepping into the new year:


Curated PMPs are the Future of Programmatic.

Both publishers and advertisers are looking for better – more refined – ways to buy and sell ads, due to an ever-increasing tangled and complex programmatic supply chain. And, it’s only going to get harder with the disappearance of the third-party cookie. 

Monetising first-party data is becoming increasingly important – but it is also creating a sense of dread among many as access to this rich data isn’t always easy. And the apprehension doesn’t stop there – with demands on advertisers to provide the best customer experience possible, publishers are likely to begin restricting the number of ads they deploy in pursuit of the same mindset. We are now dealing with a juggling act between delivering customer experiences that matter – and provoking action, versus generating revenue. And that is a tough place to be.

Further, with the cookie demise, it isn’t just performance that will suffer – the underlying foundations surrounding measurement, dwell time, and all the other core functionalities we have become so familiar with, will change.

And this is why I believe that curation is key. Curation will bring some well-needed transparency into the programmatic supply chain, while simultaneously allowing publishers to become privacy-focused in their approach. Until recently, PMPs served as a way for publishers to package their data and inventory to sell to buyers. However, through curation, publishers, advertisers, and data providers gain the ability to leverage PMPs for bundling their first-party data alongside third-party publishers’ inventory, which can then be offered to buyers. 

Agencies, DSPs and Ad Networks will need to build closer relationships with supply-side technologies to enable frictionless access to high-performance inventory. It’s time to take curation seriously as we step into 2024.


Sustainability Sustained – it’s Time to Act Now.

Sustainability has been a constant for many years, but arguably not a priority. Until now. I remember my days back at Teads, where the business created a pledge for sustainable advertising, with regards to user experience and ‘clearing out the bad AdTech practices’. But the industry has moved on a lot since then.

Many folks would look at AdTech and think: “What has that got to do with sustainability?” Oftentimes, when you think of cutting down carbon emissions and doing your bit for global warming, you picture cars in traffic or plastic filling the seas. But with our industry, it plays a different role. 

There is no doubt sustainability is a top priority for brands and advertisers. Nearly 40% of Fortune 500 companies have stated climate goals, which is pretty huge. And nearly every industry event scheduled for 2024 has ‘Sustainability’ at the heart of its agenda.

I have struggled to find the numerical impact on the total environmental footprint of digital advertising, but recent estimates suggest it is substantial – as much as 1% of global energy consumption. By the way – that is pretty big! Within the ad tech supply chain, there are many unfortunate culprits: Ad servers, SSPs, DSPs, Measurement and data partners, and so many more, are utilising a tremendous amount of power, causing a rather large impact without us realising.

However, we can’t simply just switch these platforms off. Each of these areas – particularly data centres – is not going away. Quite the contrary, their importance in delivering relevant, impactful digital ad experiences grows every single day. 

I’ve been reading a lot about this topic, and many ideas are being discussed which is amazing.  Some ideas include moving to renewable energy sources to power our data centres and, a building reliable reporting mechanism for companies to indicate the amount of renewable energy that’s powering their operations. 

While we remain far away from putting these ideas into practice, I do believe 2024 will be the year where this topic – quite rightly – becomes a priority for many. I for one am excited to see what we can do when we put our heads together. 


Context Regains its Crown as King. With First-party Data as its Queen.

The resurgence of contextual targeting has been long noted among our headlines since Google dropped the news of the cookie-demise. And for good reason. By default, contextual targeting relies on no personal data, therefore instantly offering brands the opportunity to reach consumers in a privacy-safe manner. 

But many still don’t believe the hype. I’ll often hear pals say ‘It’s just a keyword targeting tool’. And while that was true for contextual targeting in its prime, it’s far beyond that in its current form. Incredible advancements in AI, Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing are moving contextual targeting to a whole new level.

A little insight: Advanced contextual targeting analyses text, audio, video and imagery to create contextual targeting segments, which are then matched to particular advertiser requirements, so that advertising appears in a relevant and appropriate environment. It’s pretty cool when you see it in practice.

Some advanced contextual targeting tools even have video recognition capabilities, where they can analyse each frame of video content, identify logos or products, and recognise brand-safe images, with audio transcript informing it all, to provide an optimum environment for marketing within and around that piece of video content. 

This is one key saving grace as we move into a cookieless world, and I am excited to learn more as we step into the new year.


AI and its role in AdTech.

You’d have to have been living under a rock if you hadn’t seen AI everywhere throughout AdTech. From advanced technologies to the rise of popularity with generative AI, it will without a doubt be centre stage as we step into 2024. 

In an industry centred around creativity and innovation, there’s been extreme hype and equally understandable concern that AI could eventually replace us humans in some shape or form. But further than that, there is a lot of chat about the regulatory concerns surrounding AI. 

In some aspects, AI is making us more resource-efficient, allowing us humans to spend less time on repetitive tasks and instead focus on strategy, creativity and more. It’s helping businesses reduce costs as teams collaborate with data that connects across platforms. 

However, we are entering the wild west of AI regulation. With so much going on within AdTech surrounding data privacy and protecting consumers – and businesses alike – it’s understandable why there is so much concern with AI. 

Earlier this year Getty Images sued Stability AI, an AI startup, for misusing the company’s data to train an image generation platform. Reddit just rolled out a new API policy that will require developers to pay for using the platform’s data for machine learning. 

With so much discussion going on surrounding AI regulation, I am positive this will only evolve over the next 12 months. Right now, I don’t know how we are going to tackle this – but I am going to keep my eyes on the developments as we move forward. 

These are just the tip of the ice berg regarding some of the most talked about topics within AdTech. From the growing use of Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) and the growing focus on Data Clean Rooms, to the insane rise of Retail Media.


One thing is for sure – 2024 is going to be a big year! And I look forward to exploring it with you!

Attention: The Saving Grace of Measurement? Or Another Industry Fad??

Advertisers strive to reach their target audiences. That’s a given. But, long gone are the days of simply ‘reaching audiences’ – the biggest question in AdTech right now is how do you ensure your audiences are truly engaged, and how can we really measure that?  In particular, how are businesses working to capture and retain audience attention in an era marked by information overload and fleeting consumer focus? 

After all, there is a key difference between something being visible, and something being consumed. In some cases, a passing glimpse will leave a lasting impact. In others, a drawn-out video will annoy and disdain a viewer. For me, ‘attention’ is more complex than just understanding if an ad was seen or engaged with.

I was watching the Scaling Attention speaker session with IAS & Lumen at the ExchangeWire Attention event, where Mike Follett, Managing Director, Lumen, took us back to a childhood memory of Eye Spy. Hours of fun for many of us in our distant memories, however, a game that presents a key lesson for us today.  It’s essentially about identifying the difference between viewability and viewing – “things are there to be seen but not always noticed”.  And some things are noticed but not always seen.

For me, the buzz around ‘Attention’ is becoming another industry craze that fails to answer what we hope it will. Why? Because ‘attention’ means everything and anything to everyone. Before I delve any deeper into my thoughts, let’s explore Attention in a little more detail.


The importance of ‘Attention Metrics’ in AdTech

In traditional advertising, success was often measured by impressions and clicks. However, these metrics alone fail to provide a comprehensive understanding of consumer engagement. In the digital realm, where attention spans are limited and competition for attention is fierce, tracking and analyzing attention metrics have become indispensable.

Attention metrics encompass a range of parameters that go beyond simple views or clicks. They delve deeper into user behaviour, interaction, and engagement levels. These metrics offer insights into how users engage with advertisements, how much time they spend, and whether they take desired actions after exposure.


Why is everybody talking about Attention Metrics right now?

The main reason behind its growth in popularity is down to the simple fact that the AdTech world is changing. With the third-party cookie set to demise as of next year, old ways of working are no longer applicable. And resurrected methodologies such as contextual targeting are taking a greater share of budgets. In essence, contextual targeting – and the data derived by contextual technologies – is feeding an advertiser with relevant insights surrounding the places and environments that consumers like best. 

“Attention is a really big topic as we move into a privacy-protected world,” opens Rose Silford-McLoughlin, Programmatic Partner, dentsu. “We’re moving away from third-party audiences, measurement is becoming more difficult. We have to measure effectively in a cookieless environment.” source.

Further, we now have the data that perhaps we didn’t before. Technology platforms and expert services are available that allow advertisers to essentially stitch all their data and insights together, to make better and more informed decisions to deliver the outcomes that matter. 

And, arguably more importantly, the industry is accessing AI technologies more than ever before, allowing for the opportunity to turn this data into actionable functions Think about predictive analytics which can be used pre-and-post bit to drive better campaigns. 

All these moving parts are creating the perfect time to bring into focus the idea of ‘Attention’. But once again, I ask: what does Attention truly mean? And how can it be smartly applied depending on the environment in which we are consuming media? Attention across a mobile device will drastically differ from consuming TV and podcasts, and so on. I personally feel the fragmentation within measurement will be with us for a long time, and although ‘attention’ may be able to fix part of it, I’m not sure we’re quite there yet.


Putting my Positive Hat On…

I’m not dismissing the incredible opportunity that Attention can bring to AdTech. Understanding attention metrics empowers advertisers and marketers to optimize ad campaigns effectively. By analyzing data insights, they can refine targeting strategies, optimize ad creatives, and tailor content to resonate with their audience’s preferences and behaviours. Continuous testing, experimentation, and adapting to emerging trends are crucial in leveraging attention metrics to drive advertising success.

It goes without saying, the journey of attention will be a huge focus as we move into 2024. And I am excited to see how it evolves. But for now, I still stand slightly on the fence. Perhaps I need to define what attention means to me. Or perhaps I’m just too long in the tooth and have seen too many measurement fads come and go, promising to be the new ‘silver bullet’, only to have their methodology undermined and deemed useless a year or 2 later, to get excited about anything anymore.