Digital Advertising Lookback for 2017

What Happened in 2017?

Although your newsfeeds and inboxes have likely been inundated over the past few weeks with content and messages reflecting on the events from this past year, the digital marketing world really never pauses or slow downs. Since last January, global digital ad spend has increased 15%, surpassing TV ad spend for the first time ever. According to Statista, 2017 marked the first year in which mobile traffic composed more than half of all web traffic. It’s clear that the way that people consume content, interact with brands, and navigate the buyer’s journey is changing. Before you finish ramping up your marketing for the new year and embark on new digital ventures, we wanted to outline these major developments from 2017 to help you keep up with advancements being made today and anticipate transitions that advertisers will need to make tomorrow as we move into 2018.

Amazon Now Has Its Own DSP

Through the consolidation of many DSPs last year, we were left with one major surprise: Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP) exceeded Google’s DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM) as the most used DSP. Despite remaining fairly below the radar, Amazon’s DSP is quickly gaining popularity because of its low agency fees, self-service option and unique commerce and purchase data. When ad buyers were asked for their preferred DSP, 23% answered Amazon. This tops the next choice, AppNexus, which falls at 19%. As the number of DSPs not owned by walled gardens, telcos, enterprise clouds or media companies decreases, differentiation becomes the key challenge.

Innovations in Transparency Hold Advertisers & Publishers More Accountable

Facebook updated their transparency policy to require political and retail-focused advertisers to reveal all ads they are running publicly in their feed. In October, Facebook announced, “Starting next month, people will be able to click ‘View Ads’ on a Page and view ads a Page is running on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger — whether or not the person viewing is in the intended target audience for the ad.” All ads must be associated with a page during the ad creation. This is a huge shift towards leveling the playing field for advertisers as they will be able to view all other ads that are running on these networks and gain competitive insights to optimize their funnels. In the past, advertisers could run dark posts, which permitted advertisers to run as many ads as they wanted without ever appearing on the brand’s own feed. This means that your competition could run multiple target specific tailored ads and you would never see them. With Facebook’s new policy, regardless of demographics, advertisers will be able to see the ads that their competition are running.

Although this initiative stemmed from a need for greater democratic transparency, Facebook’s new initiative is helpful for all parties in the digital advertising sphere and they’re not the only ones advocating for more honest advertising practices. The IAB has taken major strides to keep publishers accountable for any counterfeit inventory served to advertisers through their ads.txt project. The Ads.txt buying method confirms that each webpage uploads a file to its root domain detailing which SSP (Sell Side Platform – a tool that manages the programmatic advertising on a publisher’s site) offers its inventory, its Placement ID and its relationship with that SSP. The publishers publicly indicate who is actually authorized to market their advertising space eliminating inventory fraud. In 2018 we’ll begin to see many DSPs offer only inventory tagged with an ads.txt ID to their brand partners.

Retail eCommerce Flourishes as Online & Offline Experiences Blend

2017 was an extremely busy year for retail eCommerce with a 4.9% increase in U.S. sales and a number of mergers and acquisitions. Amazon acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion and Walmart acquired a number of eCommerce brands like Bonobos and Moosejaw. Despite the closure of many physical retail spaces, brands with brick and mortar stores are leveraging the data they’re gathering online to improve the offline customer experience, even implementing AI and AR to better understand and communicate with the customers. Conversely, strictly eCommerce brands like Casper mattresses and Harry’s shaving are partnering with traditional retailers like Target to bring online products to consumers more accustomed to offline shopping.

Cord Cutting Becomes More Popular & Advertisers Work to Gain Viewability

TVs, gaming devices, smart set-top boxes, desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones that all stream Amazon Video, Youtube TV, Netflix, Hulu, and HBO can be blamed for the slow death of cable TV. According to eMarketer, 22.2 million Americans, an 33% increase from 2016, have officially cut the cord and no longer pay for traditional cable, satellite or telco services. It’s forecasted that by 2021, 30% of adults won’t have traditional pay TV.

As online companies observed the increase in the number of streamers and the profitability this area brings, they were quick to jump onboard. In August, Facebook launched its new video service, “Watch.” This platform offers both live and pre-recorded videos that Facebook users can upload content to, similar to YouTube. However, they also partnered with Major League Baseball, the NBA, Nasa, Time Inc., National Geographic and NASA who pay to add their content to the viewing options. Facebook is not the only newcomer as Snapchat, Disney, Philo and countless TV networks created both paid and unpaid streaming platforms.

With this change in viewing preference, advertisers are finding new ways to reach these viewers. Many of the streaming platforms require users to watch a 15-60 second spot before their content plays. An advantage to this is that these ads are 100% viewable – there is no way to skip the ad. If advertisers are able to create clear, creative video that captures the attention of the viewer and seems more like an additional piece of content, this new shift will increase lift and be a great addition to many brand’s media mix.

Artificial Intelligence Knocks on Everyone’s Front Door

In 2017, artificial intelligence (AI) branched out from the areas where we were used to seeing it, like inside of our cars, smartphones and aircrafts, and is quickly integrating itself into our homes. Over the holiday season, Amazon said they sold “millions” of their Alexa products, including the Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Echo Show, Echo Connect, Echo Spot, Amazon Tap, Amazon Echo Look, and Amazon Fire TV stick. Google also saw success with their line of home products.

Luckily for these search and retail giants, consumers’ attitudes towards AI has shifted from fear that the technology would take their jobs to appreciation. 75% of Americans now believe that AI is here to help humans and that those who don’t embrace its benefits will be without a job in the future. As it becomes increasingly present in our lives and continues to collect rich voice data, in-home AI devices will soon lend just as much of a hand to digital advertisers as it does consumers. As 2018 moves forward, advertisers will begin to map out the uncharted territory that lies within the data accumulated from these devices.

Apple Says Goodbye to the Home Button

Apple decided to make their newest phone’s screen as large as possible and to make space for more phone, they eliminated the home button. A once standard feature on every iPhone, adjusting to the new process to unlock the smartphone via facial recognition will take time. Chief Design Officer, Jonathan Ive, spoke to the change and some of the initial opposition it faced in a recent interview with Time. Ive said that “[he] actually think[s] the path of holding onto features that have been effective, the path of holding onto those whatever the cost, is a path that leads to failure.”

The world’s most valuable brand and owner of approximately 15% of the global smartphone market share believes that its 2013 purchase of Israeli 3D sensing company, PrimeSense, powering this technology will continue to position Apple as a mobile leader. Providing greater security and ease for users when accessing their phones, the disappearance of the home button fulfills Steve Jobs wish to create a more simplified login. The iPhone X is Apple’s most personalized phone to date prompting users to say that it feels almost like the phone is magical, and projections to sell 265 million iPhones in 2018 support this sentiment.
Videos and Visuals Dominate

Four of the fastest growing social media platforms are Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr and the common denominator within all of these platforms is visual content. People are no longer satisfied with solely written content and in order to stay engaged, especially for consumers in the Millennial and Generation Z demographics, they are actively changing the way they view content. The average person gets distracted in about 8 seconds, so incorporating popular features such as photos, infographics, memes, illustrations and videos is essential. With 81% of people skimming the content they read online and image-related posts receiving a 650% higher engagement, it’s clear that captivating visual and video content is only going to become more important in 2018.

$10 Billion Spent on Data

According to a study from the IAB Data Center of Excellence and the Data & Marketing Association, US companies spent $10.05 billion on third-party audience data and $10.13 billion on solutions to support its activation in 2017. The $10.05 billion breaks down into $3.5 billion spent on email addresses, names, street addresses and other personally identifiable information, $2.9 billion on transactional data and $2 billion on digital identifiers. In regard to solution support, $4.3 billion was spent on supporting data integration, processing and hygiene, $4.2 billion spent on hosting and management solutions and $1.63 billion spent on analytics, modeling and segmentation solutions.

Snapchat Improves its Ad Tracking

Snapchat has had a very eventful year with many successes and challenges. Despite its devaluation after its IPO in March, the social platform has been very resilient. Snapchat boasts about 178 million daily users that spend an average of 30 minutes per day on the app and if you look at users under the age of 25 (about 60% of all users), this jumps to around 42 minutes of Snapchatting a day, making it more frequently used than its competitor. For brands looking to reach these users, there are a variety of ways to leverage the platform to promote their offerings, such as filters, geotags, and in-app ads that viewers see between viewing friends’ and publishers’ stories.

What’s most promising about Snapchat is its users’ disposition towards ads, with 50% receptive to or neutral to the ads they’re served. Brands are hoping to see positive results from their Snapchat campaigns and are also excited that they can now track them much more effectively. The recent release of the “Snap Pixel” allows advertisers to add a pixel to their ads and track campaign metrics and data analytics in real time. For the past three years since Snapchat began using advertising, it’s been making it easier for brands to automate campaigns, bid on ad space and measure the performance. With these advances and the platform’s sustained engagement of young millennials and Generation Z consumers, Snapchat is maintaining its position as a major player in digital advertising.


With an overwhelming amount of new players and shifting paradigms that have arisen in the digital ecosystem throughout 2017, there’s a lot to keep track of and a lot of opportunity waiting to be taken advantage of in 2018.  Having a strong digital partner to manage your brand’s digital ad buying is crucial and Digilant is ready to step in to help.  Reach out to us here to learn more about our digital media buying solutions and services and how to maximize your brand’s digital advertising potential in 2018.

How to Become a Great Digital Media Buyer?

Since the onset of the digital transformation, the role of digital media buyer has been one of the most in-demand jobs in the advertising industry. Although digital media buying in and of itself is nothing new, it’s a profession that’s constantly adapting to new digital channels, technologies and platforms.

As a key liaison between agencies and advertisers, digital media buyers support in the creation and implementation of advertising campaigns for different brands. Although digital media buyers may be involved in many decisions made throughout the campaign planning process, the most important decisions lie in determining which online media channels and what tactics will yield the greatest reach and be most effective in achieving campaign goals.

In order to successfully do this, there are certain attributes and competencies required from today’s digital advertising industry. Would you know how to identify the necessary skills needed to be a digital media buyer? What type of person does it take to get the job done? Several professionals have expressed their opinions on this subject and these are a summary the most requested characteristics and skill sets:

  • A digital media buyer must be curious and not be afraid of tackling complex problems.
  • A buyer must possess an in-depth knowledge of the industry in which its customers operate.
  • Also, they must be an interdisciplinary professional that can manage both traditional and digital marketing with ease.

What exactly is a Digital Media Buyer?

It’s commonly thought that a digital media buyer is simply responsible for laying out the plan for a brand’s digital ad campaign, deciding what online channels (social media, apps, search engines, site banners, streaming platforms, etc.) will set the stage for the most conversions, greatest brand recognition, or the generation of the most qualified leads. However, a digital media buyer’s role extends far beyond this.

They’re the people that come in contact with almost every actor in the digital advertising planning and execution processes, so they end up learning not only how to create the roadmap of a campaign, but also how to drive it forward. These responsibilities demand the digital media buyer to be a multifaceted professional in order to meet their clients’ needs.

6 Important Attributes Needed to be a Great Digital Media Buyer

If you’ve ever considered a career in digital media buying and want to envision yourself in the role, ask yourself if you possess the below attributes:

1. Team Player

Successful digital media buyers are always team players because they have to work with many people in a variety of contexts. Whether reaching out to a more experienced buyer for help in overcoming an unforeseen campaign obstacle, inquiring about how to use new programmatic bidding technology and submitting requests to the product team, or developing account relationships with the sales team, planning and executing a digital ad campaign is never a one-person job.

2. Digital Expert

Although a digital media buyer isn’t expected to start their first day on the job completely adept in all things digital, it’s crucial to always maintain an eagerness to learn about the constantly evolving digital advertising ecosystem. It’s to a buyer’s advantage to become an early adopter of new technologies and platforms, because more likely than not, they’ll eventually be incorporated into new forms of online advertising. A few examples of new online user tendencies that have since been integrated into digital advertising include:

Some of the most frequently used tools and resources by buyers to keep up and plan effective digital ad and programmatic campaigns include:

  • Scarborough, MRI, or other demographic databases that provide information surrounding the digital channels where a campaign’s target audience can be found and measures the impact different digital platforms can have on these audiences.
  • ComScore Data to see specific sites if your goal is to introduce a brand to a new market or target audience, digital media buyers can analyze data from ComScore and other internet market research companies like Nielsen, to determine where on the web they should be redirecting their ads.
  • Social Tools: Of course, advertising via Facebook, Twitter, and now Instagram, provides incredible reach when campaigns are correctly implemented.

3. Natural Networker

If you’re a naturally extroverted and well-connected person, you might want to consider digital media buying. The job can be very social because it requires working with various partners and clients, often through networking and socializing outside of the office. High-energy people who aren’t afraid to reach out to industry experts for the solutions they need to make their client’s campaign plans a reality.

4. Skilled Negotiator

If you want to become a digital media buyer, you have to present your media plan, receive approval, and then follow through on the plan under the approved parameters. Familiarity with standard industry rates for ad inventory and having the ability to stretch a budget to maximize ROI on ad spend will both improve the client’s campaign results and increase margins for the buyer’s agency.

5. Resourceful Problem Solver

One of the most important feats for any digital media buyer to achieve is overcoming obstacles and implementing inventive solutions while designing campaigns from the ground up, almost like a digital media engineer. For example, if a customer requests paid search in their digital media plan, the digital media buyer needs to determine if an Adwords campaign is needed and how to select keywords that will help optimize the SEM (search engine marketing) element of the campaign.

6. Intuitive Analyst

Beyond organizing Excel spreadsheets with copious amounts of qualitative and quantitative data collected over the course of a campaign, digital media buyers should also be able to explain the reasoning behind why different users take different paths during their consumer journey and what needs to be done to drive conversions. With the increase in data that online publishers provide, a digital media buyer has to understand and analyze media and market data, as well as brand development indices and campaign performances by digital channel.

How to Become a Digital Media Buyer

You don’t need any special training or a graduate-level degree to become a digital media buyer. However, most agencies seek candidates with an undergraduate degree and experience in communications, PR, statistics, or marketing. Beyond this general background, digital media buyers are expected to have strong writing skills, the ability to effectively track and analyze metrics, and a passion for all things digital, including:

  • Ability to appropriately budget and report
  • Clear and succinct cross-departmental communicator
  • Knowledge of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
  • Capable of implementing Google Adwords
  • Experience using media planning and performance tools like Google Analytics, Comscore, DoubleClick, etc.
  • A genuine passion for technology

Once a position has been landed and the digital media buyer is assigned to a new account, the first question the new hire should ask him or herself is: “How can this client, regardless of size or industry, build and strengthen its brand?” From there the buyer will analyze the digital channels where this brand’s advertisements will have optimal impact.

Resources for Digital Media Buyers

If you want to take some first steps towards a career in digital media buying or sharpen your skills, it’s a good idea to get in touch with and stay engaged with top media professionals at ad agencies.

  1. AdAge Datacenter: A primary resource for business intelligence and media research, this database can serve as a great starting point to expand your media buying contacts from top agencies.
  2. LinkedIn Sales Navigator.: Digital Sales professionals use this tool to find contacts and get referrals to important brands and agencies.

A digital media buyer with all of these skills and attributes is essential to the success of any digital ad campaign.

Are you in need of proprietary programmatic solutions paired with exceptional digital media planning to make your next digital ad campaign a success?  At Digilant, we help brands and agencies uncover new audience insights to implement more strategic, better-target digital advertising campaigns. From educational institutions to CPG companies, to top automotive brands, our solution span across all industries. We make it possible for agencies to bolster expertise and services for media clients and for brands to scale media buying quickly. With channel supported across programmatic, search, and social, Digilant makes media buying simple. Learn more about how Digilant can take your 2021 digital advertising campaigns to the next level. Let’s talk.

Why Media Buyers Need to Focus on the Consumer Using a Journey Map

By Mike Addonizio, Director, Platform Solutions at Digilant

Stop the Channel Obsession

The complication of today’s digital media landscape has confused advertisers. It seems advertising’s most proven and basic principles, such as communicating the right message to the right person at the right time, are getting lost to an infatuation with channels and irrelevant metrics. It comes at a time when digital advertisers should have an easy time targeting the right audiences and being efficient at managing their ad spend. Instead, as publishers like Facebook and Google build barriers between their ecosystems, brands are mirroring them by organizing their internal agencies and teams in the same way. Social, search, display, and owned channels are siloed instead of synergized and are being evaluated by misguided KPIs, such as clicks or engagements they generate.

The problem is obvious. Pitting channels and vendors against each other and measuring only channel specific metrics, will ultimately lead to wasted dollars. It prevents team collaboration and undermines customer-centric strategies. It results in brands arbitrarily devoting portions of spend to “high-performing” channels with short-term campaign goals in mind. Teams are likely double-counting revenue dollars due to the lack luster attribution models, and certain channels are receiving more (or less) credit than they actually deserve. Somewhere in this narrative of media buying execution, marketers are forgetting that the only common fabric between these channels is the consumer. When they return to thinking about the customer first, advertising becomes less complicated.

It’s All About the Journey Map

As publishers build walled gardens for their user bases, advertisers must render the obstructions useless while maintaining cross-channel identity and journey context. When we factor in mobile phones as a primary means of receiving and sending communication, this complexity only becomes more aggravated and will continue as new devices appear in the future. The solution is a synergy between technologies that focuses on the consumer.
From a tech standpoint, there needs to be a convergence of DMPs (Data Management Platforms) and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems. One solution looks like the image bellow.

Winning with A Customer-First Ad-Tech Solution

  1. Successful media buyers will use CRM systems to inform their DMP of the current customers that should be suppressed, receive different messaging, or pass high-value customers lists for optimized lookalike modeling.
  2. A good data strategy should include using a DMP to inform a CRM of the user journey prior to acquisition as well as other relevant attributes about the context of current customers.
  3. Segmentation must occur across the two platforms, and audiences must exist in a delivery environment that is channel agnostic.

This combination of technology, consumer focus, and working with the right media partner like Digilant has proved to be a winning recipe for digital marketers.

3 Key Elements to Successful Digital Media Buying

Regardless of the marketing strategy that a company may have in place, there are key elements to buying digital media that all brands should take into account.

However, before jumping into the elements of successful digital media buying, there is one aspect that must be worked out: defining your campaign goals. One of the biggest mistakes marketers make with any marketing campaign is trying to manage to several goals at the same time.
Digital MarketingWhile it is true that all brands aim at varied objectives and want to solve different issues, you must learn to prioritize. The important thing is to maintain a hierarchy of objectives. If you have limited resources, as is often the case, it is essential to focus efforts on the main objective, and spare no effort in trying to resolve other less relevant issues.

But it is important to understand that your target audience uses multiple channels to gather information and make their decisions. Therefore, the best strategy to reach your audience is to expose your brand to all the channels and during different stages of the buying process.
According to eMarketer, successful advertisers are investing half of their budgets based on the basic elements of digital media buying strategies. In fact, the purchase of digital media accounts for 44% of all advertising budgets.

If anything has become certain in the constantly evolving world of digital marketing, it’s that if advertisers want their campaigns to be effective and achieve their objectives, they need to understand all the key elements to buying digital media

What Are the Key Elements to Buying Digital Media?

The issue lies in defining the steps to purchasing digital media. Different variables must be taken into account:

  • What is the best fit for your brand?
  • Where is your audience?
  • What is the best channel or tactic to strengthen the concrete strategy you have already defined?

Would you know where to start? The following points that we will cover are the three main elements to buying digital media that you should keep in mind.

  1. Get to Know Your Audience

target marketing

Every digital marketing campaign is unique, each with its own strengths, weaknesses, goals and target audience. For this reason, it’s very important to know your brand’s audience well, in order to be able to execute each of the elements of a successful digital media buy. And, above all, to do it in a way that helps to grow your business.

Knowing your users will help you discover the media they consume. To achieve this, consider the following factors:

A. Identify your target audience

Who are you trying to reach? Who is your target audience? Create a profile that reflects the user you are trying to reach and impact. The main ‘consumer persona’ of your brand.

Recognizing and building a profile of your potential audience is basic. And, of course, it implies the identification of the demographic profiles, income, Internet browsing habits and overall digital behavior of your users.

It is important that you know the behavior of the audience you are going to target. It is one of the keys to building a better digital media strategy. Otherwise, you run the risk of your investment being unsuccessful.

B. Know your ecosystem

Once you’ve identified your target audience and have studied what profile you are looking for, the location you need to focus on, as well as knowing which audience will best respond to your product, then it is time for you to understand your ecosystem.

This means that you have to go beyond mere profile data. For example, if you need to buy advertising space for car insurance, you can target younger car users living in large metropolitan areas. For that you may be interested in evaluating elements such as the following:

  • Are low-end or high-end car models more attractive?
  • Perhaps driving classes have the most demand?
  • What about driving schools?
  • Or, perhaps, users prefer to find car accessories?

If you discover the interests of your target audience, you will probably also find brands that you have never considered competition before. But they really are. This process is part of the “out of the box” thinking, vital to defining the key elements to buying digital media, and in this case, identifying your real competition.

Having as much information as possible about the competition will help you explore your own elements to buying digital media. That way you’ll know what works best for your audience. What happens to be your potential audience. To analyze your competition, you can start with the following questions:

  • Creative designs and ad types:
  • What do the the banners and landing pages of your competition look like?
  • Does the competition use a specific color scheme that works better than another?
  • Are their designs clean and clear or are they elaborate?
  • What types of ads and specs seem to work best for competing brands?
  • Do they adhere to their own brand image or do they try to adapt to the publication’s?
  • Offerings: What type of calls to action (CTAs) do they use?
  • Do your competitors provide discounts or free products?
  • How do they describe their offers?
  • Website: What types of websites does your competition use to reach its target audience? Following the above example, they could focus on writing blogs about high-end cars or about tricks for car care, for example.
  • On the prevailing website for your competition, where do they publish their ads?
  • Do they run their own ads or are there mediating agencies that complement this process?

Once you have a deep enough understanding of your audience’s ecosystem and competition, you’ll be closer to optimizing the elements of your media buying strategy

  1. Creativity and Diversity of the Digital Advertising Ecosystem

The second key to effective digital media buying is to take into account the diversity of the digital advertising ecosystem and not focus all of your resources on the same channel.

There’s a huge variety of digital platforms on which you can advertise. From email to social media, radio, television, influencers … Why limit yourself to only advertising?

Your goal should be to spot the platforms with the best rates and preferred locations of your audience. Only in this way will you increase the positive results of the investment you make.

Types of digital media:
One of the key elements to building a cohesive digital media buying strategy is to understand the different tactics within Earned, Owned and Paid Media.
paid earned owned

  • Paid Media. Media in which you have to invest a certain amount of money to achieve your goals. It would be the closest example to traditional advertising in mass media, but now refers to digital platforms. From the social media platforms themselves to digital advertising banners, there is a wide variety of formats included the paid media category.
  • Owned Media. Media that is owned by your brand. These are the channels through which you communicate with your viewers, users or subscribers. The company has the power and the exclusivity to publish on those channels.
  • Earned Media. It refers to the recognition you get in certain spaces after a job well done. The media wins are the most complicated to earn but are the ones that give the best long-term results.

The use of each type of digital media offers different benefits. Therefore, a good choice of channels in which to interact with your users is key.

  1. Choose an Appropriate Media Buying Solution 

The third key element to buying digital media is to have a tool that allows you to control all the elements of the process. The purchase of digital media would be impossible without taking advantage of the potential of advertising platforms such as Digilant.
Campaign optimization is an ongoing process. And, therefore, the fact that something works once does not mean that it will always work. That is why it is fundamental to take care of all the factors that are dependent on you. Some of the most important factors are:
media buying solutions
Creative message.
Adequate budget. There are several ways to fix it. From the percentage of net sales to what you can afford.
Measure everything. Make sure you have developed processes that allow you to identify what type of advertising medium and channels are generating the best results.

Partnering with a suitable platform is the main element to the digital media purchasing process. Obviously, it must be accompanied by the two previous ones. If you do not know who you are targeting, it will be difficult for you to have an impact. And if you do not know the different types of media, it will be difficult to take advantage of the choices available. But a poor choice of a programmatic platform can reduce the effectiveness of your overall campaign strategy.

Digilant can help you with a managed service or self-service programmatic platform solution. Allowing in both cases to handle digital advertising campaigns using real-time bidding (RTB) across all channels.

Digilant also offers multiple easy-to-use automation and data analysis tools. With them you can focus on managing the key factors that affect your campaigns. Do you want to implement these 3 elements to successful media buying?

Like what you see? Join the 500+ clients that have partnered with Digilant.