As the advertising landscape continues to grow and change, nothing is more important than data. Unlike pre-internet advertising, it’s now possible to gather comprehensive information about advertising methods, from click-through rates to return on investment (ROI). Continuous measurement and optimization ensure better results, giving advertisers the power to grab the attention of a target audience without wasting advertising dollars.

Advertising is rarely predictable, but the shocking ramifications of COVID-19 have only amplified this. Even stable industries are starting to change how and when they advertise, leading to future economic consequences which are still unknown. While advertising consumption is up as increased numbers of people sit at home, waiting for it to be safe to end lockdowns, advertisers don’t always want their messages associated with somber news therefore many brands are reducing their media buying or hitting the pause button on their advertisements.

Even though the market is more challenging than usual, several key trends are at the forefront. We identified 4 key trends that are influencing the current media buying industry.

1. Advertising Fraud

Advertising fraud isn’t an issue advertisers of days past had to deal with, but it’s an unfortunate reality in today’s market – to the tune of between $6 to $19 billion on an annual basis for digital advertising. Unfortunately, as with most kinds of fraud, as fast as the industry evolves, scammers evolve faster.

However, there are ways to combat ad fraud, including:

  • Working with trusted demand-side platforms (DSPs)
  • Use data analytics to identify outliers that could be indicative of fraud
  • The use of anti-click-fraud software
  • Employment of credible third-party verification

Fraud is a significant problem, but by having the right tools in place it is possible to make gains without falling victim to insidious avenues. Utilizing data can make it easier to note potential warning signs before they come to fruition, allowing the possibility to withdraw investment from ad campaigns before it’s too late.

2. Brand Safety

Branding is a major aspect of marketing for companies of all shapes and sizes, defining the identity as a corporation, no matter what that may mean. Most companies want advertising to align with branding ideals, which makes advertising in the time of COVID-19 all the more challenging. This becomes harder with the knowledge that ad-related calls for COVID-19 content have risen 60%.

When choosing advertisers, most brands do not want to be associated with news programs or other content associated with the spread of the Coronavirus. As such, many brands are beginning to become very specific in their advertisements. When you want your brand to be aligned with the ideal message, how and where you’re advertising makes a difference. From frequency management to analysis of measurements, the role of branding in the time of COVID-19 now means more than ever.

With the introduction of a more data-driven approach, it’s possible for companies to know where their ads are running and the overall influence content plays on advertising outcomes.

3. Digital Transparency

The digital world has long been somewhat impervious to transparency, but the tide seems to be turning. Instead of trusting blindly, more and more advertisers are prioritizing how, when, and why they buy digital media ad space to ensure the effectiveness of their ad campaigns.

Supply-chain transparency is the latest initiative in ad sales, as publishers only choose to work with DSPs they trust. Historically, discussions about trust have related more specifically to advertisers, but now that publishers are entering that game, the norms are continuing to evolve. Advertisers are now encouraged to consider DSPs from the publisher’s perspective, a phenomenon that is leading to the evolution of the idea of demand-preference optimization.

However, this is not a bad thing. More transparency in the marketplace means a more trusted environment for everyone. For advertisers who want to be sure they’re making the right decision, access to data can make all the difference in determining which publishers to trust – and when to walk away.

4. Automated Media Buying

Automation has long been a growing trend in the advertising industry but over the next few years, this evolution is expected to take a further foothold in ad buying. Experts expect programmatic media buying to be the consistent state of the market in the near future, leaving the traditional advertising sales market out in the cold.

As automation continues to take a front seat, advertisers are going to need to adapt and be ready. As this will contribute to the commoditization of standard ad jobs, the more informed advertisers can be, the better. Data can help advertisers follow industry trends without the risk of getting left behind, giving them the ability to lean into automation rather than letting it catch them unawares.

A lift in programmatic will only increase the value of the creative and strategic branches of ad creation. In this time, the right approach to sales will become more important. Using a data-driven strategy can help ensure advertisers are one step ahead of the game as the industry continues to change.

The future is data-driven media buying

The world of advertising is constantly evolving, but today’s terrain is particularly uneven. However, no matter the challenges your business is facing, nothing matters more than data. With the ability to identify fraud, highlight the advantages of branding, and show where creative and strategic resources are most necessary, the current media buying market will publish or perish, so to speak, based on the presence of accurate and reliable data on-demand.