Fragmentation: The Future of Digital Advertising.

If you would have asked me two or three years ago about the fate of the digital advertising ecosystem, I would have hypothesized that it was on a path to greater consolidation, not continued digital advertising fragmentation.

Are you chuckling? Me too, but hear me out.

A few years ago digital-out-of-home wasn’t really a thing, connected TV was in its infancy, and the writing was on the wall for Google and Facebook to soak up the digital advertising ecosystem. It was almost a sure bet that these online behemoths would eventually own the entirety of the digital advertising space. But technology (and advertising for that matter) has a funny way of throwing us all for a loop.

Fast-forward to the start of a new decade and instead of condensing the digital ecosystem is actually becoming more and more fragmented. Mobile is becoming ubiquitous and increasingly complex with ever-evolving tracking and privacy changes, new social and ecommerce networks are emerging, and the third-party cookie is soon to be sunsetted.

Suddenly, businesses with access to loads of first-party data have become an incredibly valuable resource to advertisers who are striving to reach their target audiences. Verizon owns all of their cell phone and customer data and is sitting on huge silos of first-party behavioral data. Walmart, has the ability to tie in-store consumer shopping data to an online profile and then activate against that data source. Not to mention Amazon, the king of first-party data.

If advertisers want to target a specific persona, they’ll be required to purchase inventory from a whole collection of sources that own first-party targeting data. It’s no longer viable to run a successful campaign with one or two trusted channels. Now, advertisers are stitching together a whole web of digital channels to reach their audience.

It’s a brave new world—and it’s still evolving.

Just a few years ago advertisers could successfully run campaigns from just one or two ad-serving platforms. Now, the average buyer is leveraging anywhere from 6-10 different ad buying platforms on digital alone, not including the amount of tech needed for appropriate attribution and monitoring. What does this tell us? I surmise that the average media mix is only going to get more complex as we see what unfolds in 2021 and 2022—when Google officially kills the cookie and IDFA changes go into effect.

As the digital space gets more complicated and more fragmented, the challenges of organizing and managing disparate data sources are only going to amplify. It’s more important than ever for advertisers to find viable solutions to harness those data. Long gone are the days of executing successful campaigns with a one-two punch of Google and Facebook—skilled marketers will source their media on channels where they’re certain they can accurately target their audience. Those who will thrive in this new fragmented world are those that have a way to snap together disparate data sources into one clean view that is organized, curated, and trusted to help them make data-driven decisions and investments. Not only will they be able to reach their target audience, but they will be able to tackle the data flying at them from every direction.

Will Lapointe

Will is Lumenad’s VP of Media, leading the media arm of Lumenad. Using his eye for detail, he’s built what some call the most sophisticated media team in the country. Before joining Lumenad as an account executive, Will co-owned a local gym. He holds a BA in Business Management and a MBA from the University of Montana.