The barrier between content creation and content distribution will finally come down. Brands have already begun to move toward content-first strategies and away from offer-driven marketing, but 2018 will be a truly transitional year.  Right now, content creation and content distribution often exist in silos, preventing one from influencing the other and causing marketers to miss a significant opportunity when it comes to their content marketing strategy and execution.

With the two pieces linked, marketers can gather behavioral insights from distribution campaigns and feed them back into their creation strategy, leading to smarter, more valuable content for consumers. Creating and distributing high-quality content will help advertisers move away from an “offer-driven” approach and create an overall optimized experience for the end user.  

In 2018 these two pieces of content marketing will work in conjunction, enabling marketers to travel the “last mile” in linking the right content with the right consumer, at the right moment in time. Content is the future of brand/consumer relationships and it’s critical that brands get this last piece right in order to fully capitalize on the opportunity ahead.

Contextual Optimization Will Be Essential. With enforcement of GDPR coming in May 2018, the rollout of iOS 11 with its restrictions on persistent cookies, as well as the continued adoption of server-side header bidding with its decreased match rates, there will be an increasing number of programmatic auctions that cannot be matched to a known user. This shift in landscape necessitates another way to optimize and target that doesn’t rely on a decreasing amount of matched user data. Contextual optimization offers an intelligent way to optimize and target unmatched (and matched for that matter) ad inventory, and it’s not limited to what site the ad is on.

Native is the best opportunity to exploit contextual optimization, as it provides more data points for context. The look and feel of every single ad placement is unique, and can be correlated even more closely with user behavior.  Contextual targeting has always been critical in Native Advertising, given that the advertisers’ content must match the form and function of its environment. But with the previously mentioned industry changes, the ability to contextually target will become even more important for advertisers to make relevant and valuable connections with consumers.

Dynamic Creative Optimization: The Dream Becomes Reality. Each new innovation in programmatic technology focuses on personalizing the advertising experience for consumers.  Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) has been on the wishlist for a long time and it will finally be achieved in 2018. DCO provides the technology to massively simplify the process of tailoring content experiences for consumers in real-time. With this capability, advertisers can reach target audiences with unique creative variations that cater to the specific user being served the ad. This will be transformative for the way consumers feel when they engage with a brand, significantly driving engagement, conversions, brand affinity and ultimately optimizing the experience.

There Will be More Industry Collaboration to Fight Fraud. Industry initiatives such as Ads.txt, Ads.cert and TAG will continue to play an important role in ridding the digital ecosystem of fraud. It’s the responsibility of every advertiser, publisher and technology company to ensure they are complying. But the onus is on each constituent to not only comply, but to be proactive and to communicate.

We should actively facilitate an open dialogue between all players, sharing what we’ve learned. It’s critical that DSPs and SSPs work together to be a part of the solution, not simply hope that someone else is taking care of it. We will work together as an industry to make advertising safe and measurable all the way through to consumer engagement and post-click activity.

Immersive Units Will Become More Mainstream. Consumers are highly inundated with advertising messages and brands need new and immersive ways to connect with them in these crowded environments. Cinemagraphs are an example of a highly engaging and growing format that brands are using to stand out and capture attention. They combine the movement of a video with the stillness of an image, bringing eye-catching creatives to.

Custom type units are increasingly available in the programmatic marketplace. When Native formats first emerged and publishers rapidly adopted them it was difficult to scale. The advent of Native programmatic was the first transition of premium placements into RTB environments. All of this supports that programmatic is no longer about remnant inventory.  It’s about leveraging data to connect advertisers with relevant consumers in real-time. Native programmatic is the future.

Native is the Future of Mobile and Video.  As consumers increasingly reject invasive content experiences such as pre-roll and banners, brands seek new and innovative ways to connect with them. Consumers’ attention has become so precious, particularly in mobile and video environments, that when brands engage with consumers it must be valuable, relevant and organic.

Native by definition means that the content being served will match the form and function of its content and the surrounding content. The shift has already begun, but mobile and video budgets will continue moving toward Native as advertisers see better performance and ultimately enhances user experiences with their content.