2018 Predictions for Mobile Advertisers: Shifts in Buying, Creative and Technology

What does 2018 hold for mobile advertisers? We predict major trends for upcoming year.

If, as they say, what’s past is prologue, then 2018 figures to be an exciting year in the world of mobile advertising. After all, 2017 set the stage by providing giant leaps forward with new ad formats and creative, improved methods for targeting, and better ways of measuring campaign success. Those factors helped mobile account for an estimated 58% of the total $185 billion US digital ad spend. But if those numbers are to climb, there’s work left to do.

Soon, we will find out if 2018 can capitalize on the momentum from 2017. Surely it will be a different year, but how? What major trends will shape the mobile advertising landscape and create new opportunities for mobile-leaning brands and their agencies?

To help answer these questions, we polished up our crystal ball. Here’s what it told us…

1. Brands Stop Buying on a CPM Basis, Focus More on Engagement & Quality Metrics

Brands and their agencies have been buying digital ad inventory on a Cost Per Thousand (CPM) basis since the beginning of time (or at least the beginning of the Internet). However, it’s high time they realized that using this impression-based metric — a familiar carryover from TV advertising buys — is not the best way to pay for digital ad campaigns. We predict that in 2018, led by advances in measurement and verification technologies, as well as reports like this which indicate the pervasiveness of fraud when calculating impressions, brands will finally begin to shift towards more engagement- and conversion-based metrics, such as Cost Per Completed View and Viewable impressions. We will also see an increased adoption of movements like the IAB’s ads.txt to try to weed out as many fraudulent impressions as possible. As brands begin to focus more on quality over quantity, we will see the traditional media model evolve and brands start buying using different, better metrics.

2. Goal-Based Bidding Comes of Age

As advertisers move away from CPM-pricing, they’ll look to technology and machine learning in particular to help them achieve their business objectives. Rather than aiming to cast as wide a net as possible in the hopes that they’ll reel in users who ultimately deliver the type of engagement they want (whether installing an app, watching a video or signing up for a service), advertisers will start using Goal-Based Bidding (GBB) to target users who are likely to take those specific actions in the first place. This level of targeting will allow advertisers to begin focusing on the actual business outcomes they want to advance, not just the generic goal defined as “reach.” GBB will make it much easier for brands to actually move the proverbial needle by starting with the end-goal in mind. It’s a much more efficient and effective way of buying media, and as publishers and ad platforms start to refine the algorithms behind GBB, it will certainly gain more acceptance throughout 2018.

3. Ad Creative Gets a Whole Lot Smarter

Bid rates aren’t the only area where Artificial Intelligence will make an impact in 2018. We will also start to see AI work its magic on ad creative, as even the artistic side of advertising will prove that it can be made much more effective through science and data. Creative Management Platforms and Dynamic Creative Optimization tools will emerge from the sidelines to play a larger role in how ad creative is delivered, allowing advertisers to assemble new creatives on the fly in order to suit specific targets and audiences. Furthermore, AI will help optimize ad creative by prioritizing certain assets over others, depending on the goal an advertiser is trying to achieve. The days in which an ad campaign features just one creative unit delivered to all audiences will be long gone by the time 2018 comes to a close, as AI will bring much greater flexibility, personalization and variety to how advertisers deliver their campaigns.

4. Programmatic Budgets Shift from Digital to In-App

It’s no secret that programmatic advertising hit its share of road bumps in 2017, mostly due to issues involving fraud, viewability and transparency. But the merits of programmatic are still incalculable, and the good news is that in-app inventory — especially of the rewarded variety — offers a solution to the aforementioned problems. For starters, rewarded in-app inventory is nearly 100% fraud-proof, since audiences must first opt-in to actively engage with the ads, thereby guaranteeing that advertisers are reaching real, interested humans with every ad engagement. Rewarded ads also solve the issue of viewability, as their performance-based pricing model ensures that there’s no wasted impressions or incomplete views. And many in-app programmatic ad vendors, Tapjoy included, have advocated for full transparency throughout the entire programmatic ecosystem. For these reasons and more, we expect a growing proportion of the $39 billion programmatic ad market to shift to in-app advertising in the coming year.

If you’re interested to learn more about how Tapjoy can help shape your mobile advertising or monetization strategy in 2018, drop us a line. And from the entire Tapjoy team to yours: happy holidays and best wishes for the new year!