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Tags: Data, Privacy, Programmatic, Publisher, Relevant Digital, Header Bidding

Updated: January 5, 2023

At the turn of the year, we at Relevant Digital have had a habit of looking ahead and sharing our own views on what we think the future looks like from the point of view of digital media sales and advertising. What will the attention be focused on in 2023 and what kind of development do we think we will see?

Third-party cookies will probably disappear in 2024. It goes without saying that publishers are still trying to tackle the challenges caused by the removal of cookies in various ways, such as the future of advertising targeting and measurement. With that, e.g. various ID solutions, utilization of first-party data, and contextual targeting are still growing in popularity. In addition to various identity solutions, there are of course other themes that we would see becoming relevant.

If you work with digital media and especially it's advertising, we think you should pay attention to these things now:

Identity solutions - The year 2023 will probably include more testing, learning, planning, and decisions regarding identity solutions. We believe that publishers will implement increasingly technologies that enable different identifiers (IDs) to be stored more permanently. In addition to client-side 1P cookies, server-side cookies are used more and more often, which are better stored and enable the recovery of a user-specific ID for use by (advertising) technologies, of course taking into account the permissions and prohibitions given by the user.


1st party data - Publishers will continue to grow and develop their capabilities in utilizing first-party data. First-party data has always played an important role in advertising and building the customer experience, but it seems that in the future its role will become more prominent, not least because of data protection and browser cookie restrictions. A large number of publishers already use first-party data in some way, but the development of operating methods and more versatile utilization of data is strongly on the agenda of many in order to be able to maximize the value of their own data.


Contextual targeting - With cookie restrictions, alternative ways of targeting advertising are still increasing in popularity. Contextual targeting means targeting based on the context, i.e. someone who enjoys content related to cooking, for example, could be more interested than average in buying accessories related to cooking. Contextual targeting has indeed been seen as effective, and according to the IAB: Europe study, 69% of consumers say that they are most likely to engage with an ad that is related to the content they are consuming.


Retail media - Retail media continues to grow and the market will certainly see new gamblers as local operators follow in the footsteps of the bigger ones. Digital trade media probably competes more with keyword advertising than with traditional media, but an interesting question is whether the ever-growing Retail Media category offers new partnership opportunities for traditional media houses in the field of media sales and data partnerships.


CTV - The Connected TV (CTV) market has grown explosively and there is no end in sight to the growth in popularity. The shift of consumers to use online streaming services and content has paved the way for the CTV phenomenon. The global CTV market was valued at USD 106 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow to USD 113 billion by the end of 2026. Although linear TV is still alive and doing well, digitization and changes in consumer habits are undeniably changing the entire TV advertising ecosystem. These changes also require publishers to update their long-term strategies to take advantage of new growth opportunities.


Digital-out-of-home, DOOH - Before the pandemic, digital out of home advertising was one of the fastest growing media channels. The possibilities to buy outdoor advertising programmatically have increased the channel's interest, and especially programmatically bought DOOH is seen as a very flexible and effective channel. Since DOOH is quite a new media channel, the problem of programmatic trading has been seen e.g. lack of common technical standards due to the fragmented equipment market. The situation improved in November 2022 when the IAB Tech Lab released an addendum to the OpenRTB 2.x standard on how DOOH inventory should be processed programmatically.


Operational efficiency - The sell-side continues to invest in the development of ad sales at a strategic level. At the core of effectively functioning sales is making sales data and other metrics easily available to all parties, from AdOps to management. That enables better decision-making and identifying opportunities for sales growth. In order to develop processes, more comprehensive tools are used, which, in addition to reporting and analytics, can be used to easily carry out various tests, for example regarding bidders, pricing, and technical implementations. An example of this is the real-time customization of advertising technology setup and prices based on whether the user is logged in or reading an article in a certain content area.


Server-side -  Server-side prebid continues to grow, and in this area too, publishers will prefer more neutral operators independent of demand sources. We believe that in 2023, an increasing number of publishers will try to improve their capabilities to test Prebid configurations and look for a suitable balance between Client-side and Server-side implementations.


Testing and innovation - The work to provide high-quality inventory continues. Simple things, such as a well-planned and implemented ad refresh, can help increase the amount and quality of the advertising inventory, by increasing viewability. According to our observations, the measures to improve the quality of the inventory pay for themselves. Better optimized ad visibility increases eCPM prices and brings more advertisers to the site. Even a small change can have a big impact in terms of profits. We believe that in the coming year more innovative and effective ways to increase the value of the advertising inventory will continue to be sought.


Privacy - Privacy will undoubtedly continue to be a hot topic in the coming year. The data protection strategy must be customer-oriented so that visitors feel in control and are able to control the information they share. Openness, honesty, asking permission, and increasing level of understanding are the key. An increasing amount of publishers will adjust the consent to communicate more clearly the two options, data-targeted advertising or paid subscription. This is probably where limits are sought for accepted practices and the matter may be clarified through legal proceedings.


Sustainability  - Investing in sustainable development will certainly also be on the table, and it will also be constantly valued more when choosing potential partners. It is easy to predict that the number of audits focusing on environmental responsibility will increase and more technology and media houses will open up their own carbon footprint.

The list isn’t all-inclusive, but in summary, we could say that in 2023 digital media industry will seek and build alternative ways to target and measure advertising, follow how the growth in popularity of CTV, DOOH, and retail media affects the market, improve operational efficiency and opportunities for testing new approaches in media sales, looking for more open ways to respect users' privacy and paying attention to the carbon footprint.

Suvi Leino
By: Suvi Leino

Responsible for marketing and communications at Relevant Digital.


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