ExchangeWire Industry Review: Reframing the Future

What happens when the biggest platforms in the marketing industry implement the strictest privacy controls ever seen? Chaos and carnage? End of days?

No, it’s none of these. Instead of tilting furiously at the windmill, think about this transition to a privacy-first environment as an opportunity to recalibrate, and to prioritise the consumer, rather than the apocalyptic end of advertising and marketing as we know it. Over the past few months, I have been writing a series of articles outlining how the industry can evolve beyond the narrow confines of third-party cookies and device IDs. I even sketched a new ecosystem map to illustrate the sheer size of our new addressable market.

I split my thesis into three key areas: the service layer; the madtech middleware; and the media and commerce ecosystem. All three will be heavily defined by increased fragmentation.

The service layer will become more important as brands try to navigate the measurement and targeting mess in a post-ID world. Tech integration and e-commerce management will also become a key area of growth. The holding groups are going nowhere, but they will compete with a host of new quasi-holding groups and specialists for a business that is going to see hyper growth in the 20s. There is a massive reckoning coming to ad tech and martech, as the congested middle becomes consolidated.

The ‘madtech middleware’ will become more about tech enablement and utility. Take rates are going to collapse as value moves to the fringes, empowering buyers and sellers to do data-driven buying/selling in a privacy-first way. I expect to see a huge overhaul in measurement, targeting, infrastructure, creative, and AI-based marketing. I am excited by this evolution. And you should be too.

The media and commerce ecosystem is effectively a story about the walled garden renaissance. Like it or not, the 20s is all about the walled garden: the mega GAFA walled garden which, despite what you hear, won’t own 100% of the market; and the meta walled gardens, that will operate on the likes of iOS and inside of CTV. Some will have their own buying interface; others will not. The latter is important to you, as it represents your opportunity to offer value to buyers and sellers.

Let’s consider some of the interesting problems that the industry is looking to address. In Europe alone there are 100s of marketplaces and e-commerce platforms. How does a brand measure and optimise the marketing of their products on a pan-European basis? Or what about the transition of marketing spend to e-commerce sites, as failing big-box retailers lose their in-store marketing spend? And what about the measurement headache on the anonymous web? Value creation is going to follow when more companies build services and tech that take on these issues.

We believe there will be a wave of new innovation, rebooting the current digital marketing model.

The Industry Review outlines some of the hottest areas across the service layer, madtech middleware, and the commerce and media ecosystem — with industry leaders giving their expert opinion on the tech and market opportunities that will define this decade. There is a prevailing narrative that we are in the mire — and GAFA have won. I disagree on so many levels with that thesis. Our best days are ahead of us. Once we move beyond these existing legacy models, I believe we will finally realise the potential of the innovation that runs deep in this industry.