Signal’s Prediction for Digital Marketing in 2016: The Race for Data Drives Bigger and Bigger Ad Tech Acquisitions

January 29, 2016

The Lumascape continues to shape-shift. No sooner are new categories created (e.g. viewability, attribution) to solve emerging problems than the companies in those sectors are swallowed up by the big players in advertising and technology. Many of the logos on the Lumascape are already owned by digital behemoths.

In 2016, these giants – Google, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo, Verizon, Twitter – will continue to expand through acquisition. There are a number of factors fueling these acquisitions (innovative technology and patents, a valuable user base, or preventing a competitor from doing so), but none is more potent than the race for data.

Why is the data race heating up now? Because the giants are preparing for the day that cookies are no longer a useful way of reaching customers. In some ways, that moment is already here, as consumers spend more and more of their time in cookie-less mobile environments.

For these walled gardens, it’s not enough to be big and powerful. If they don’t keep growing their global user bases, they die—which fuels their need to constantly grow the users and the data within their walls. The ultimate goal? To amass enough users and data to show an ad to just about anyone at any time, and advertisers have no need to go anywhere else.

Over the next few years, these giants will put together comprehensive advertising stacks, and they will drive niche players out of the market. We’ve already seen clear examples of the market shrinking: When Yahoo bought BrightRoll and Millennial Media, it consolidated three major video advertising platforms into one.

This consolidation is mixed news for advertisers. On one hand, as the behemoths continue their global expansion, brands will have new ways of reaching more and more of their customers in more places on those platforms. But consolidation is also likely to reduce their choices, buying power and visibility into their own customer’s journey within these walled gardens.

As marketers consider their choices, it is important to understand all of the alternative technology solutions available. One option is for marketers to come together in using their valuable first-party data to offset the dependency on walled gardens. A collaborative identity network can help brands reach real people at scale while maintaining control over their own data. Signal’s technology enables networks of trusted partners to securely share their “in market” addressable audience segments in an anonymized and privacy-compliant way to exponentially increase the percent of available and known customers.

To read more of Signal’s 2016 Digital Marketing Predictions and how to keep up in the race for more data, download the report: “How Digital Marketing Will Change in 2016 – What Marketers Need to Know Now.”

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Neil Joyce

Neil leads Signal’s global sales and business development efforts. Based in Chicago, Joyce has 15 years of experience spanning the digital marketing ecosystem in Europe and the Asia/Pacific region. Neil has held key management positions at IBM, Acxiom and BrightEdge.

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