By Michele Iozzo, Managing Director MEA, Criteo
As 2019 gets underway, marketers in the Middle East have been busy planning for the year ahead and getting ready to address the challenges and opportunities that it will bring. 2018 has seen many dramatic changes in the data marketplace worldwide, which have fostered innovation and strengthened the industry. New digital tools offer remarkable opportunities for marketers to personalize their offers, target the right audience at the right time and place, and track campaign performance like never before.
From video ad spend and data collaboration to Artificial Intelligence (AI) usage, data is going to assume even greater significance in 2019. This year, we can expect a coordinated effort by brands and retailers to restore lost trust in online advertising through better standards and more user control and to increase the acceptance of advertising in general through more relevance and better personalization.
Criteo’s recent Commerce & Digital Marketing Outlook 2019 report revealed some of the trends we can expect to see this year that will help marketers stay ahead of the curve:
After a series of data protection incidents, major technology companies have come under scrutiny for the way they procure, protect and use data. Therefore, this year, the likes of Facebook and Google are expected to introduce new data sharing and privacy policies. This is likely to increase the ability of walled gardens to control and restrict which user data and information they store or provide to advertisers. Walled gardens will have to find better and clearer ways to gain user consent on how, and for what purposes, their data will be shared and/or used.
To reduce dependency on Amazon, Facebook and Google, brands and retailers have to work together to find ways to maintain control of the customer relationship – and the data that comes with it. Therefore, many companies are looking to expand their omnichannel capabilities through cooperation and effective data usage. For example, retailers share their real-time POS and inventory data with brands. Both sides will have access to analytics and insights to better plan and efficiently implement promotions. The result is a true win-win-win as brands, retailers and consumers get the best products and the best pricing.
Another big trend here is retail media, where retailers become publishers for big brands. This new type of advertising outside the traditional channels enables brands to better target relevant users based on real-time commerce data, while retailers unlock additional revenue streams while driving sales.
In addition to transparency and control options for users, the relevance of advertising is another key to wider acceptance. With the aim of improving personalization through machine learning and increasing user engagement, several digital advertising companies in 2018 announced investments in the field of AI. AI provides powerful insight into customer behavior, resulting in highly accurate audience targeting and campaign planning. As a result, media spend can be optimized. This trend will redirect more advertising budget into online channels in 2019. Companies with large datasets and strong computer-aided resources will take the lead in developing and distributing improved AI-based solutions for digital advertising and anti-counterfeiting systems.
Consumer demand for video has become almost insatiable, and marketers are eager to provide premium video ads on high-quality sites, with an emphasis on in-app advertising. Video’s popularity has been growing exponentially: digital ad spend on mobile was up 17 percent in Q2 2017 and a whopping 46 percent in Q2 2018. And it’s not just mobile video, but also connected TV and over-the-top TV (the delivery of film and TV content via the internet, without requiring users to subscribe to a traditional cable or satellite service) which are seeing increased demand. Therefore, we can only expect steady growth for video ad spend in 2019.
These days, data search has been surpassed by visual and voice search, and these technologies will become more apparent in digital marketing in 2019. According to Gartner, those who redesign their websites to support visual and voice search and provide more interactive and engaging experiences will see up to a 30 percent increase in digital commerce revenues by 2021. Being able to provide shoppers with instant information will result not just in greater brand engagement, but ultimately in increased sales.
In 2019, digital marketing success will be all about optimizing your data strategy to create innovative customer experiences. Brands that can use machine learning and predictive analytics to personalize their offerings at an individual level to connect with shoppers in new and meaningful ways will likely stand out.