Making the most of your ad-tech story
The media landscape
You only have to look at the coverage of the recent Facebook scandal with Cambridge Analytica to realise that the ad-tech industry and the issues surrounding it are very much in the public domain. The way advertisers are using data is full of controversy which, of course, makes for good headlines.
Facebook is a global phenomenon and one of the best-known brands on the world stage but the media frenzy surrounding it highlights just how much the press are invested in debating the role that data plays in today’s society. Data is transforming the ad-tech industry as advertisers completely overhaul their strategies to find new ways of reaching and expanding their audiences.
According to market research firm Statista, global spending on digital advertising is expected to reach a massive $336 billion by 2020, up from $220 billion in 2017. That is considerable growth and the numbers highlight the opportunity of a burgeoning industry for those involved. There has never been a more exciting time to be part of the ad-tech industry and it’s a landscape that is changing at rapid pace.
The many trends and discussion points in ad-tech make it a noisy industry from a communications perspective. It can be difficult for companies to get the share of voice that they need to stand out from the competition. A smart PR strategy is critical to succeeding in such a competitive environment so, with that in mind, we’ve taken a look at who the biggest influencers are and what they are really talking about.
Understanding the data
We live in a content-driven world. The sheer amount of content available nowadays is absolutely staggering. It’s everywhere you look – on the TV, on your laptop, on your phone, on websites. ‘Switching off’ has never been more difficult and the increase in smartphones and ever-improving connectivity means that people are consuming content on an unprecedented scale.
As a marketing and PR tactic, content is the most powerful tool a business can have. Potential customers are more likely to respond to a great piece of content than a cold call and so we are constantly seeing companies putting out content in the hope that it will have an impact on the desired audience.
Figuring out what works and what doesn’t and where the best places to get attention are is no mean feat, but by analysing what is happening online we can begin to understand how to shape an ad-tech PR strategy. Online is the destination of choice for the vast majority of people these days and is the most important part of any communications output.
In order to make sense of the current situation with regards to ad-tech in the media, we undertook various searches on Google to gives us the data we wanted:
- Search via google.co.uk
- From January 2018 to May 2018
- UK only
- 30 marketing/advertising outlets
- 8 different search terms:
- Ad fraud
- Artificial intelligence
- Augmented reality
- Programmatic advertising
In order to make the data manageable we restricted the search to only 30 UK-based publications. These publications were chosen because of their focus on the marketing and advertising sector, based on our extensive knowledge of what are the most relevant media outlets for the industry.
The eight search terms were carefully selected by conducting desk research to explore what the top tier publications and journalists believe to be the hottest trends in ad-tech right now, as well as using our own knowledge of what the most talked about topics are in the media at the moment. This combination allowed us to collate a list of eight topics which are making waves across the ad-tech industry.
The results gave us plenty to play with, with data from over 2000 articles to help inform us about the current state of play. Although it’s not an exact science, Google is exceptionally sophisticated at offering up the most relevant and meaningful articles – so we can be pretty sure that there will be no glaring omissions.
What’s hot and what’s not
As with most industries, ad-tech is awash with many buzzwords, ‘hot topics’ and flavours of the month. But what are the topics that are receiving the most attention in the press and what discussion points should companies look to leverage as part of their communications strategies? We undertook some research into eight of the major areas in ad-tech to assess what has been most widely discussed in 2018:
The results show that, since the year began, the four most mentioned topics in the press have been GDPR, artificial intelligence, augmented reality and blockchain. But how should these findings translate into part of a company’s PR strategy? The important thing here is for companies to make sure they have a position on these topics and clear messaging which lets them tell their own story about, for instance, AI or AR, if it’s appropriate.
Not all companies can be experts in all things and nor should they try to be, but when a company’s business is involved in a specific area, it must ensure that it is ready and able to talk about it. By monitoring what is happening in the news and what journalists are debating at any given moment, ad-tech companies can make timely interjections into the conversations that are going on. Or better still, they can lead the conversations – this will allow them to become true thought leaders, providing expert commentary and insight into the burning issues of the day.
Over time, the topic of the day will change. It’s not surprising that GDPR is the phrase on everyone’s lips as the deadline approaches, but will it be worth talking about it in a few months’ time? By answering these types of questions and by anticipating what is likely to be in the news, companies can be sure of PR success.
Reaching the places that matter
If we delve further into the top four topics and analyse where these topics are being discussed, we can start to build up a picture of how different publications are covering different topics.
It is worth considering that volume does not necessarily equate to influence. One publication may cover one particular subject many times but that’s not to say it is having the most influence on the industry. There are many factors in measuring ‘influence’, some tangible and some not. Consider the circulation of a publication, the reputation of a particular journalist as an expert in their field and the geographical footprint of the outlet. These all add up to build a picture of influence and should be part of any comprehensive media and influencer relations plan.
The below charts offer data around how many times the top UK marketing and advertising publications have covered specific topics. This information allows us to start to get a read on which outlets are the most active in the ad-tech space based on some of the major topics concerning the sector right now.
The results are revealing. Firstly, it’s interesting to note that as a general rule of thumb, it is the same publications appearing again and again. The Drum and Venturebeat are leading the way and are clearly publications that cannot be ignored. But the results also show traction for ad-tech topics across a wide range of publications, highlighting the need for PR strategies to hit a wide gamut of outlets.
The Drum for instance, doesn’t seem to hold as much focus on artificial intelligence as it does on blockchain. Just this one snippet of information could help a company to get ahead of the game in its PR strategy. By getting to understand a certain publication or a certain journalist on a much more granular level, you can craft pieces of content which are more likely to resonate.
The key is to be smart and be creative with outreach, so that communications are as bespoke as possible. If a publication doesn’t seem to be covering a topic, how much will they be interested in an update that focuses on that area? The smartest communications campaigns always hit the nose when it comes to timing. Do you want to ride the wave of the latest trend and buzzword, or do you want to raise your head above the parapet and start the debate?
The work we have done to look into the ad-tech industry and how it is being discussed in the media shows what a busy and fast-paced sector it is. This can be a double-edged sword for businesses trying to establish a presence – on the one hand, clearly there are many journalists willing to write about the sector and topics surrounding it, but on the other hand, how do you make your voice heard?
There is no one answer but there are a few key points to take note of. Consider:
- What the hot topics are
- Whether to join in the conversations and, if so, when
- Which publications are making the most noise and are having the most influence
Taking into account all of the above will help you build your reputation and extend your thought leadership position.