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2024 Adtech Predictions: Google’s Cookie Challenge, SSP Rise, and the Retail Media Revolution

What will 2024 mean for adtech? We invited the top minds at Lotame to share their insights and forecasts on the key trends and issues that will shape the upcoming year.

1. Google’s Cookie Controversy: Google’s potential delay and abrupt enforcement of its cookie shutdown will create significant disruption in digital marketing, affecting holiday campaigns and personalization strategies.

“While Google has promised to take things slowly with its cookie shutdown in early 2024, signs indicate another delay may be in the cards. Expect brands and publishers to once again drag their feet on preparing for a cookieless future. Here’s where things get potentially ugly.

At some point during the year, Google abruptly decides to make good on its plan by shutting down cookies overnight to meet the current Q4 deadline. The ripple effects would be vast and painful, as we’d likely see significant underdelivery during the holiday spending season, leaving marketers with missed goals, and consumers dissatisfied with less personalized experiences and product recommendations.” – Lotame Chief Growth Officer, Alexandra Theriault

2. Rise of SSPs in Ad Tech: Supply-Side Platforms (SSPs) will gain prominence for audience discovery and targeting in the post-cookie era, reducing the reliance on traditional intermediaries in digital advertising.

“In 2023 we saw a heavy focus on cleaning up the supply chain. Several big name adtech firms have looked to extend the boundaries separating the buy and sell side. In 2024, we’re bound to see more blurring of the lines between SSP and DSPs, attempts to disintermediate supply paths and tighter publisher-advertiser relationships, as more marketers push for inventory control, transparency and streamlined access, as we’ve seen in CTV.

There will be increased reliance on SSPs to solve for audience discovery and targeting in the post-cookie era, and agencies to embrace curation as a tool to accomplish supply-path optimization (SPO) and addressability upstream. Overall, we’ll see reduced reliance on middlemen “taxes” that don’t translate to measurable value-add and impact to KPIs.” – Lotame Head of Identity, Eli Heath.

3. Clean Room Technology Consolidation: The clean room technology sector will see a consolidation, with a few major players like Google and Snowflake dominating due to their advanced capabilities and investments.

“This has been a much-hyped sector over the past few years. As important as this technology is, there are likely too many new entrants in this space, which may lend itself to a small set of leaders. This is still a highly nascent technology, and the need for varied use case testing remains high.

At the same time, clean rooms owned by specific tech platforms, such as Google’s or AWS Cleanroom, will gain more traction. And don’t count out Snowflake — given its huge resources and investments in this industry (not to mention the fact that it’s built on AWS) — will be the last independent company standing.” – Lotame Chief Revenue Officer, Chris Hogg

4. CTV and FASTs Dominance: In the CTV space, major players like Netflix and Disney will overshadow smaller content creators, leading to a surge in partnerships and reliance on platforms like Roku and Amazon for content distribution.

“As more giant players like Netflix and Disney gain traction with their ad-supported offerings, smaller video programmers — such as Tastemade — will look for ways to gain more share through partnerships and scale. In fact, CTV is starting to gravitate towards a concentrated group of winners who command the majority of spending. Given those circumstances, we may see many independent content players abandon standalone CTV apps, and consider handing sales over to platforms like Roku or Amazon, or various FAST (Free Ad-Supported Streaming Television) networks. And because of that, more ad dollars are likely to be funneled toward the platforms, rather than the independent publishers. As in the gold rush, there may be more money to make selling tools than mining for actual gold.” – Lotame Head of CTV, Hunter Terry

5. Retail Media Evolution: Retail media will evolve into comprehensive analytics platforms, intensifying its influence in digital advertising by blending with CTV and digital publishing, and harnessing both online and offline consumer data.

“In 2023 we saw retail media burst onto the scene, in 2024 we will see them strengthen their position. The focus will be on offsite targeting to increase scale and muscle in on search advertising’s waning influence, as well as a branch into open programmatic through the adoption of ID solutions. Expect to see increased overlap between retail media, digital publishing, and CTV as retail platforms seek new avenues to leverage and enrich their audiences.

Retail media offerings will evolve into fully-fledged analytics platforms, giving brands insights into their market share and customers regardless of whether they buy retail media. Ad tech players that can tap into this new titan will find much success, especially those that can link online and offline spheres, such as loyalty scheme developers. We’ll all be getting points and rewards on everything, but our data will be the real prize.” – Lotame Vice President, Revenue & Global Partnerships, Fred Marthoz

6. AI Industry Boom: AI will become a standalone industry, with an explosion of AI-dedicated roles and consultancies revolutionizing digital advertising through innovative data utilization and automation.

“AI will spawn its own industry in 2024. Expect to meet plenty of newly minted AI officers, and for dedicated AI consultancies to emerge on every show floor. In digital advertising, where we are used to rapid change, the threat will not be AI stealing jobs but a company that has adapted to AI stealing clients. Rapid creative versioning, automated media planning, and generative data “storytelling” will be among the most transformative efficiencies.

As the dust settles from 2023’s AI hype, two tiers of service will emerge: specialist AIs trained on an organization’s owned data, and generalist AIs that anyone can use but produce lackluster results. For example, an established agency with years of performance data could build a unique model to help replicate its successes in future campaigns. If you thought data was valuable now, just wait until every company has its own data-hungry AI to feed.” – Lotame Chief Product Officer Eliza Nevers

The above predictions are featured in ExchangeWire, Digital Content Next, Performance Marketing, AdNews, and Broadcasting & Cable.