Three Unlikely (But Useful) Predictions For 2018

"Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Auren Hoffman, CEO at SafeGraph.

There are three things the broader advertising technology industry needs to face in the next decade, and it is my late Hanukkah wish that we see them in 2018.

The advertising industry needs to better address fraud, privacy, money flows, transparency and data quality.

Drum roll, please …

1. An Auditable Ledger For Payments And Money Flows

It is very difficult to track money flows in advertising. This has always been the case because there are so many hops: The marketer pays the agency, which pays a trading desk, which then sends money to a demand-side platform (DSP), which doles out some as it incorporates data from a few sources and brings in ad networks, with the rest flowing to supply-side platforms (SSPs) and eventually trickling to a publisher. And then there are make-goods.

There is also a lot of fraud in the advertising industry.

There is a good deal of confusion, angst, fraud, worry and dispute over who gets what.

Much of this could be solved by some sort of semi-public ledger. I know what you are thinking, but it does not need to be some immutable blockchain ledger, just a simple ledger that everyone can use and is easily accessible.

Ultimately, sunlight is the best disinfectant. A ledger is the next step in transparency.

In 2018, I predict some company will launch a ledger that will eventually become the standard for the advertising industry.

2. A Data Measurement System.

Most marketing data is between 10% and 20% accurate. Because most data is inaccurate, marketers do not value external data and will pay very little for data, so there is little incentive for data companies to move to quality because they will not get paid for it.

For instance, since there are more “auto-intenders” this week than the total people that will actually shop for cars in the next few years, car companies do not spend a lot for the data. The problem is that some of the data might be extremely good, but it is really hard to figure out which is good and which is not.

If you look at the BlueKai Registry, you’ll find that most of the data about you is not correct. Mine says I’m 25-29 years old (I wish!), make around $45,000 a year, live in an apartment, am a homeowner and live in the New York area. The only fact that is true is that I am a home owner, while the rest is far off (including 2,500 miles from where I really live in San Francisco).

In 2018, I predict there will be a measurement company created with the sole purpose of scoring the accuracy of data. This will eventually bring more transparency to the data ecosystem.

3. A Consumer Data Management System

There is a lot of consumer data sloshing around. It is everywhere. Data about you exists in thousands of companies, many of which you never interacted with directly but can serve a very useful purpose. Data brokers have been around for more than 50 years.

For the last 20 years, people have been talking about a portal for consumers to manage their own data, get a sense of what others know about them and edit and delete the data.

2018 will be the year that a true consumer-centric data management system will launch, giving consumers the tools to be stakeholders in the data ecosystem.

A call to action: I’m personally ready to write checks to fund all three of these projects, so reach out to me if you are starting one of these unicorn ideas.

Follow Auren Hoffman (@auren) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.


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