Looking Ahead: 2018 Predictions from Rise Media Experts
As we look ahead to 2018, our Rise experts in Affiliate, Programmatic, Search and Social reflected on 2017 and weighed in on what to expect in the new year.
What are the biggest challenges brands faced in 2017, and how were they able to overcome them?
Cori (Affiliate): Proving the value of affiliate has always been a challenge for marketers. To truly understand how affiliate efforts are driving incremental sales, rather than providing extra discounts to shoppers already planning to purchase, marketers need to invest in attribution. Attribution can be an intimidating undertaking, so I recommend starting with crediting logic within your affiliate platform. As an example, you can start to set rules where customers that are coming to affiliate pages from a shopping cart URL will not get credit if they make their purchase within a set number of minutes. These are simple ways to start to understand which of your affiliate partners are driving incremental sales, rather than what we call “leapfrog sales”. Adoption of this technology continued to increase in 2017, so the time to start is now.
Ian (Social): Brand safety was front and center in 2017. In order to ensure inventory on social platforms such as YouTube is promoted in a brand-safe way, brands are demanding stricter control and increased invisibility to ad targeting. Advertisers have made it clear that publishers and social networks need to clean-up inventory quality issues before they will resume investments and grow spend in these channels.
How do you see the media landscape evolving in 2018?
Laura (Programmatic): Transparency and inventory quality will continue to be important topics for marketers. We will see increased engagement with tools such as ads.txt that provide transparency to media buyers to prove that inventory is only sold through authorized retailers. Highly influential brand voices, such as Marc Pritchard, will continue to propel 3rd party verification and complete disclosure on raw media costs independent of agency fees. Providing true transparency has been a differentiator for Rise, and now we will see brands demand that same visibility across all media partners.
Cori (Affiliate): Transparency will be a theme in the affiliate world, too. Brand safety concerns have already begun to impact the affiliate channel, and we are seeing a movement towards more direct relationships with publishers. It will be more important than ever for agencies to provide brands with the data showing exactly where different messaging and offers are shown. Additionally, we will continue to see an emphasis on content affiliate partners and publishers that use influencers to promote products and services. We recommend that brands continue to incentivize and award content creators differently than coupon and cash-back publishers.
Chris (Search): As innovations to offline measurement solutions continue, marketers will be able to value their online investments in channels such as search and connect them back to in-store visits far more confidently than before. We are now able to understand the link between PPC ad clicks and in-store visits, and device stitching technology has become more sophisticated. This technology will advance further in 2018.
What do you see as the greatest area of opportunity for marketers in 2018? What do you see as the greatest challenge?
Laura (Programmatic): We continue to focus on fine-tuning the “man+machine” formula for the brands we partner with. We’ve seen dramatic performance increases as we’ve found more sophisticated ways to automate the creation and management of hyper-specific ad placements. Marketers who use their man power to drive strategies and invest in technology to automate the execution will see the greatest returns in 2018.
Chris (Search): Non-traditional marketplaces such as Amazon are among the greatest opportunities and challenges in 2018. Brands realize the need for an integrated search strategy that includes Amazon, but aren’t sure where to start. We are helping brands scale their traditional SEM engine structures and programs to Amazon to enable true data-driven performance comparisons. We’ve seen a number of brands drive lower CPCs with stronger returns on non-branded and competitor terms on AMS (Amazon Marketing Services) than Google or Bing.
Ian (Social): Investing in the creation of video and more sophisticated assets will no longer be optional -- it will be necessary to engage with customers and ensure relevancy. Over 8 billion videos, or 100 million hours, of videos are watched on Facebook every day. Brands will need a holistic content strategy that includes interactive assets such as video and and Facebook canvas ads in addition to traditional static assets.