What Issues Will Concern Members During 2017? ISBA Survey Results Revealed!

27 January 2017
You've attended the meeting or the event when someone feels as if they have to speak on your behalf – the advertiser. The only problem is that they aren't advertisers, but are speaking on your behalf as you don’t want to show your hand and be besieged by hundreds of suppliers. Of course the answer is to make events and meetings indispensable to advertisers to ensure not just attendance but engagement – something that even ISBA is having to work very hard at.

In order to determine what the most important digital issues are for our members, we have asked them directly via a short survey.

This year we’ve concentrated on four main issues which have dominated the trade press – ad blocking, viewability, ad fraud and online brand safety. And, despite some members claiming that they’re ‘ad blocked out’ and that these topics have been hanging around for the last few years without any perceivable progress, these issues retain their place in our Top Ten.

Advertisers are pragmatic and realistic. They realise that it’s easy to make a name for yourself by criticising the digital advertising industry for lack of progress in finding solutions to the biggest challenges faced. Articles claiming that the latest initiative ‘will end up in glorious failure’, interspersed with amusing comments can be highly entertaining. But unfortunately we aren’t in the entertainment industry. It’s not so much fun and much more difficult to find a long term solution to the real problems we face - but that’s the task we have.

One of the advantages we have in Digital is the speed of change. I acknowledge that ‘shiny new things’ and the choices now available to digital marketers can be daunting, but this must be preferable to squaring up to the same old issues year after year. 

Ok, let’s look at the results of this year’s survey. In reverse order to maintain the excitement. Augmented and Virtual Reality will hopefully provide advertisers with fresh new opportunities to engage with users, see ‘How to get ‘better ads’ into augmented and virtual reality’. However, as yet it appears that advertisers aren’t that keen to discover how they can exploit these opportunities - Augmented and Virtual Reality fail to make our Top Ten! 

Maybe we need to wait for some revealing case studies to emerge. I hope that we don’t have to wait too long as ISBA has scheduled a free, member only Augmented / Virtual Reality event on 21 June!

Also hovering just below the Top Ten we have Data Privacy and the Data Protection Regulation. With less than 18 months to comply with the Regulation or face a fine of up to 4% of your global turnover this issue isn’t going to go away. We have a free, member only Data Protection event scheduled for 13 October.

Ad Fraud hasn’t received a great deal of attention in the press this year and has slipped to number 9 in our survey. However, two companies have just been accredited for their ability to reduce the risk of fraudulent ads being served will be revealed by JICWEBS, the Joint Industry Committee on Web Standards: Affectv and RadiumOne.  

At number 8 we have Attribution Modelling. Let’s hope that in 2017 we have news that sales can finally be accurately attributed across media and devices.

It was inevitable that after the ‘adpocolypse’ frenzy of 2015, resulting in a plethora of articles, blogs and events, things would settle down this year, with the issue slipping to 7. However, watch out for the global ‘Better Ads’ Coalition making real progress next year. The number of adults ad blocking online has already plateaued in the UK at 22% and we look forward to making real progress in 2017.

Social Media has powered its way back into the Top Ten at number 6. On the one hand most advertisers pump a large slice of their marketing budget into Facebook et al. On the other hand there are a number of ongoing concerns, such as Facebook overestimating their video views. To be fair to Facebook, we don’t yet have a cross industry JICWEBS metric which specifically measures the average duration of video viewed. This is one for Facebook, JICWEBS and UKOM (UK Online Measurement) to resolve.

Online Brand Safety has slipped from Number One to Number Five. After YouTube and Facebook took advertisers concerns seriously brands are now more confident that their ads won’t appear against inappropriate content, and there are now over 30 companies which have been accredited against the Digital Trading Standards Group’s Best Practice Principles.

Although Viewability has fallen out of the Top 3, there remains plenty to do next year, starting with reducing the discrepancies between the leading providers and re-examining the standards.

Mobile advertising remains in the Top 3 – ISBA worked closely with the IAB this year to publish the Big Mobile Handbook. Advertisers want to get in front of the eye balls but they mustn’t spoil the user experience on what is still a very personal device.

Programmatic Trading is still a massive issue for advertisers, moving from Number 8 to Number 2 on our survey. ISBA published three volumes of Guidance with Infectious Media, aimed at those at the beginning of the journey, intermediates and those who regard themselves as experts. So far ISBA members have requested well over 500 copies. Three events will follow next year, taking place on 04 April, 25 July and 24 November. Download the WFA Report: Programmatic & Trading Desks here >

Audience Measurement has risen from Number 6 to Number 1. Third party verification is still flavour of the month thanks to Facebook, and this is an issue that needs to be addressed to restore advertiser trust in the metrics which are being presented to them.

Ok, not a definitive, statistically valid reflection of all advertisers concerns, but certainly a good reflection of what a number of the biggest advertisers in the UK are thinking. 


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