The past year has reinforced the view that the media industry is a complicated and vast one, and that it’s still growing. Global advertising sales reached nearly $500 billion this year, and programmatic is set to become the principal trading method in the next twelve months. But its rapid growth challenges agencies to select from a huge range of platforms and providers, a task which will only get harder in the year ahead.

The intricacies of the media landscape are compounded by greater pressure for clients (and by extension their agencies) to ensure strong campaign ROIs and accountability for how budget is spent. For many, reducing their ad server roster is a first step to achieving this, and we’re already seeing a trend towards a smaller selection. According to the World Federation of Advertisers, around 16% of marketers worked with more than nine ad servers in 2014. Just two years later, only 3% are working with seven or eight, and just 10% are working with five or six.

A significant factor behind this is the consolidation of vendors to provide the highest quality service possible. Given controversies around ad blockitng and viewability affecting the advertising industry in the last twelve months, brands will look closely for safe, quality environments that deliver effective campaigns, and agencies must meet that challenge.

For example, we have acquired the likes of SparkFlow, MakeMeReach and Virtuoso to help create a stronger environment for our clients – and over the course of the next twelve months, we believe that more companies will do the same.

We’re already seeing this happen across display, video and mobile – and 2017 will see this grow to include important adjacent sectors such as creative.

Look at the likes of Adobe, who recently bought TubeMogul for $540m only last month – or Accenture, whose acquisition of Karmarama made headlines across the industry. The larger organizations are making significant moves to establish their presence in the digital advertising market, and smaller players may now be feeling the pressure to keep pace.

Personally, I believe that 2017 will be a landmark year for a maturing industry that's moving away from a 'Wild West' reputation.

The winners will be those who can identify the truly innovative assets amid an incredibly cluttered marketplace, and can then integrate their offerings properly into the larger business while preserving the 'magic' of its new acquisition. For those smaller businesses, the race could now be on to find a suitable match.

In the years ahead, I look forward to seeing an industry in which the most creative and innovative solutions provide the scale and resource of larger partners - as a result, I predict greater accountability, efficiency and a sustainable industry model to come from the year ahead.


By Rob Garber, managing director at Undertone EMEA

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