Predictions 2024: Open Web

As we venture into 2024, the open web stands on the brink of transformative shifts. In this prediction, we delve into the significant changes anticipated for the year ahead, shaping the future of digital landscapes.

Understanding the trajectory of the open web – an ecosystem characterised by its accessibility, interoperability, and user-centric approach – becomes critical for ad tech companies seeking to stay ahead in a highly competitive market.

2024 will bring with it a heightened focus on transparency - largely driven by evolving international privacy laws, open web developments will not only mandate more transparent practices in digital advertising but will also build stronger trust with users. We may also see an increase in the use of decentralised technologies, like blockchain, to enhance security and user control over personal data.

Leading figures from across the industry share their predictions with ExchangeWire on what they expect to happen for the open web in 2024.

Creative advancements will define the open web

With cookie depreciation set for 2024, contextual targeting will be pivotal for the open web, further emphasising the vital role of personalisation & of course creative optimisation.

There have been some exciting creative advancements over the past year, and I expect we’ll see these grow further in 2024. AR & VR technology has evolved significantly, meaning brands can take advantage of this tech to deliver unique and personalised advertising experiences to their target audience.

I also believe that AI will remain a key driver in the space, allowing streamlined asset adaption for multi-screen ad experiences and helping facilitate the science behind the art of creative optimisation.

Amy China Wire, VP Teads Studio UK - Teads.

Curation and innovation will be the key to navigating the evolving landscape of the open web

New platforms and formats are consistently emerging across the open web, meaning advertisers have their work cut out to ensure they stand out - and this is before trying to optimise for great performance. Add to this the increasing focus on creating sustainable advertising and privacy, including the deprecation of cookies, and the open web will find itself under increasing financial pressure in 2024.

Fortunately, with new technologies such as curation reaching maturity, there are great opportunities for all players across the supply side to deliver increased value and enhanced experiences. However, buyers will need to adapt their action strategies to the new world of supply-side targeting and data usage in a cookieless world.

Active curation will do much of the heavy lifting so that even while 2023’s economic challenges may continue into 2024, the open web has the opportunity to thrive; delivering real value across the ecosystem.

Fern Potter, VP product & strategy, Multilocal

Creativity will drive performance, engagement, and brand awareness

In 2024, creative will play a bigger role in programmatic success. This is especially true as the industry grapples with challenges in identity resolution. While we must continue to solidify foundations around identity and quality inventory, creative will drive performance, engagement, and brand awareness.

Advertisers will be emboldened by AI to develop an array of creative variations for their campaigns, and to deliver personalisation like never before. This allows them to engage audiences across geographical areas, languages, and viewing environments – without incurring sky-high production costs. But it also reduces ad fatigue, by varying the creative viewers see in their own specific households.

Elizabeth Herbst-Brady, CRO at Yahoo

The industry will move away from one-to-one cross-domain targeting to one-to-many publisher signals

2024 will be the year “cookie apocalypse” pessimism dissipates, and advertisers address 100% of audiences versus the 30% available in Chrome. For the open web, it means a move away from one-to-one cross-domain targeting to one-to-many via publisher signals, accelerated by two trends. Advertisers will work directly with publishers, accelerating direct-sold growth with data showing a 55% increase in direct-sold audience revenue in Q1 2023 YOY, increasing to 62% in Q2 2023. An evolution in programmatic will see buyers using richer, scaled audience signals from publishers as the primary way to target audiences.

Premium publishers, who invest in quality content and build loyal audiences, are set to benefit. Publishers who don’t invest in content and focus on lower-quality passer-by traffic will not. The result? More spend flows to premium publishers, who invest more in quality content, creating a virtuous cycle that results in a higher-quality open web.

Aly Nurmohamed, COO, Permutive

Working with technology that is not reliant on third-party data signals is the important first step

2024 is set to be the tipping point for measurement with Chrome finally going cookieless. Although third-party cookies have already disappeared for roughly half of all internet users, this will cause a major data signal loss. Legacy DSPs won’t be able to monitor reach and frequency, measure performance, or personalise ads, while attribution methodologies, such as multi-touch, last-touch and last-click, which already have limitations, will become even less reliable.

Next year, marketers must adopt more advanced, multi-signal approaches that leverage real-time data and AI to create dependable predictive models for their campaigns. Working with technology that isn’t reliant on third-party data signals is an important first step for any advertiser.

Those who bury their heads in the sand will soon find themselves lagging behind, unable to measure the impact of campaigns, or personalise them based on beneficial insight.

Matthew White, VP sales, EMEA, Quantcast

Varied solutions will lead to a trustworthy cookieless world

A continued shift toward cookieless strategies and a greater emphasis on leveraging first-party data. As cookies continue to phase out and consumer privacy becomes a top priority, advertisers and agencies will need to find new ways to target and measure their campaigns. This will lead to increased adoption of AI and machine learning technology, as well as a focus on contextual advertising and social channels.

Additionally, there may be a greater intersection of cloud computing and AI technology to improve real-time optimisation and audience targeting. Overall, the industry will likely be heavily invested in finding trustworthy, reliable, and validated solutions for the cookieless world.

Kristina Prokop, CEO & co-founder, Eyeota

Reducing digital advertising complexity will transform open web for the better

While 2023 saw positive strides – including with supply path optimisation and simplifying the programmatic landscape – there’s more to be done to support versatile, transparent and sustainable solutions. Particularly when it comes to addressing the evolving, diverse needs of marketers and publishers.

Moving forward, efforts must be made to address fragmentation and simplify the trading of diverse media, at scale. Partnerships between data and technology players will bring flexible access to varied supply sources, and tooling to better curate valuable audience and supply.

Targeting will increasingly shift to the publisher side, with solutions that balance the protection of an individual's privacy, while enabling brands and agencies to find value in open web audiences, winning out. Here, expect further growth of advanced contextual solutions, clean rooms, and seller-defined-audiences to drive growth. Continued efforts to reduce digital advertising complexity will yield favourable outcomes for the open web in the coming year.

Teiffyon Parry, EVP sales excellence, Equativ

Ad waste will be prevented by a renewed focus on engaging and creative ad formats on the web

As we head into 2024, I predict a new, strengthened focus on quality and creativity. Whilst digital media continues to explode, we’re facing a real challenge - the attention deficit. Poor user experience is leading to colossal volumes of ad waste, with a report by CreativeX forecasting that the industry [will have] squandered $73 billion on suboptimal ads in Q4 2023.

To drive better performance for brands, while reducing ad waste (both emissions and ad campaign budget), the focus has to be firmly on intuitively engaging, creative ad formats, as well as optimising towards quality user experiences to make each impression count.

Under the umbrella of quality, marketers will need to focus on going beyond premium 'inventory' and monitoring factors such as meaningful attention, reducing ad density, and optimising a page's CWV (Core Web Vitals) scores, for factors such as page load speed.

Matthew Goldhill, founder & CEO, Picnic

The advertising landscape will be defined by a commitment to transparency

In 2023, self-serve and advertising automation platforms have experienced significant maturation, leveraging advanced AI models while upholding their longstanding commitment to transparency in measurement. The emphasis on delivering a clear return on investment has driven these platforms to enhance transparency further, facilitating precise business impact tracking.

This development is particularly exciting due to the democratisation of effectiveness, positioning self-serve platforms as a compelling choice for both industry-specific and cross-industry brands.

In this evolving landscape, worldwide advertisers and publishers will find a Holy Grail in this technology. The convergence of innovation speed and AI capabilities establishes self-serve platforms as a cornerstone in redefining the advertising landscape in 2024.

Peo Persson, co-founder and CCO, DanAds