Let’s talk Biddable

2018 has seen an overall improvement in transparency, concerns around brand safety and shifting digital consumer behaviour. We’ve recapped on some of the big talking points of 2018 for Biddable Media.

Life after 25th May

In the post-GDPR landscape, brands are having to deal with revamped Data Protection Act legislation. Frustratingly, the main effect of the legislation has been to reduce audience pools, although whilst we are all familiar with the standard GDPR website disclaimer, the user experience hasn’t changed substantially, with two-thirds of people stating their experience with brands hasn’t changed since GDPR came in.

In his book Nudge, Richard Thaler, father of modern behavioural economics, refers to the importance of “default settings and guiding people’s actions”. We can see user trends following similar patterns as pre-GDPR times – accepting yes to the privacy disclaimer on sites has become the default action for most consumers. Whilst behaviour is the same, it’s an irritation for brands to re-build their audience pools of 1st party data.

2019 is likely to see more of the same, with brands slowly growing their audience pools, particularly for use within Performance Marketing. However, it is clear these restrictions in audience targeting are not limiting the growth of the largest tech-driven players for whom data is central to their proposition – Google, Facebook and Amazon. All their YoY 2019 digital ad revenue forecasts are trending up (Google – reaching over £5bn in 2019 digital ad revenue; Facebook – forecast £2.57bn in 2019, up 37% from 2017; Amazon – 26% YoY growth). It appears their large financial commitment to data protection and privacy is paying off, they are benefiting from this time of uncertainty.

The same cannot be said for some smaller players who have stopped operating in Europe altogether. Mainly in the Ad Tech space: Kargo, Verve and Factual, all mobile ad firms, have pulled operations from Europe due to too much uncertainty and not being able to safely claim they are compliant. GDPR has challenged the fragmented digital ecosystem, this could mean a greater focus on Biddable Media due to cuts in available digital inventory and inflated prices for sought-after inventory.

Finally, with the days of the open web gone and an expanding list of walled gardens (Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, SnapChat, etc.) the impact of these post-GDPR has been felt with restrictions in how brands evaluate data to effectively measure campaigns. For Biddable, however, we have simply seen a change in data processing compliance and removal of Facebook partner categories.

Rapid growth in Voice Search

One of the more significant trends in search this year has been driven by the major tech players integrating their online services directly into consumer hardware in the form of voice-controlled appliances.  Voice search is in the early stages of adoption by users, and there is a huge opportunity available for those brands which are best able to adapt to this emerging technology.

The Global Web Index tells us that:

  • 27% of the global online population are using voice-enabled devices
  • 17% of internet users currently own a smart assistant
  • 34% of internet users say that they are interested in purchasing a smart assistant.

To get ahead of the competition, brands and advertisers need to understand how voice search differs from the more established methods of internet browsing and align their strategy to these changing consumer habits.

It would be foolish to observe the major tech firms’ focus on voice assistants without taking notice. It is predicted that, by 2020, 50% of all searches will be performed by voice command. Whilst this prediction by comScore may seem ambitious, brands which adapt to this emerging landscape will capture new territory in a market that is destined to increase in relevance in years to come.

We’ve summarised the key optimisations search practitioners should consider when devising a voice search strategy to capture this growing trend on mobile search and in-home smart assistants:

  • Voice search is conversational – these searches will most likely take the form of a question rather than traditional, typed phrases. This means that ‘question asking’ keywords – how, what, when, where, why – need to be considered concurrently with more established keyword targeting.
  • Develop customised ad copy that answers the questions, while also driving traffic to relevant landing pages.
  • As voice queries are typically longer, generally over five or six words, keyword lists should be treated as key phrases to capture search traffic.
  • Negative keywords lists will need be reviewed to aid relevancy and effectiveness of the PPC activity.

Re-framing creative with vertical video

Vertical video – that which has been created either by a camera or computer and intended for viewing in portrait mode – has become more and more popular. Emerging more in the last few years, it has rapidly reached the point where it is outperforming horizontal ad formats.

Optimising creative for mobile makes a real difference – with a 27% lift in brand awareness from optimised creative compared with using original TV content on the platform. Facebook has been heavily involved in powering mobile-first video with Mobile Works, a programme it recently launched to aid the production of mobile-first video.  Campaign referred to a recent study which showed vertical delivering 58% more reach and 40% cheaper CPMs than horizontal.

We’ve also seen Facebook’s heavy investment in vertical video this year, following the announcement of Facebook Watch in 2017 and IGTV in 2018, where all videos on this platform are vertical. Facebook and Instagram continue to challenge the future of television with long-form videos available on the platform. However, will vertical long-form watching become a mainstay? Streaming services like Netflix have grown in popularity and conditioned us to view in landscape mode.

What appears to be a risky move from Facebook’s IGTV with all videos shot in vertical, could be steering the norm. Other players are embracing vertical video with YouTube announcing at Dmexco they want to provide a more seamless mobile experience and have expanded their advertising formats designed to fill the user’s screen in portrait mode.

2019 will be an interesting year to see if vertical video ads and long-form watching takes a stand. As people naturally hold their phones vertically, the shift in vertical viewing habits is likely to manifest across all platforms.

From content to cart

Content and e-commerce may have existed separately in the past, however, shoppable content has changed this. Shoppable content is any type of online content (most often social), which sends users directly to a product page or website to buy that item. It provides an immediate purchasing opportunity driven by the desire the content has created.

This year we have seen a growth in shoppable formats across Biddable channels, with Snapchat launching their Shoppable AR lenses in April and Instagram’s Shoppable Stories in March. It presents a real opportunity for advertisers to expand their e-commerce strategy with social being a key element.


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