5 Ways IBM Predicts AI and Ad Tech Will Evolve in 2021
With tech giants set to crack down on cookies and third-party trackers in the coming months, the ad-tech industry is in for some major changes.
IBM Watson Advertising has bet that artificial intelligence and anonymized behavioral insights will play a central role in that post-cookie future. The company has rolled out a series of product releases this year that aimed to lessen marketers’ reliance on personal data.
In a new report, Sheri Bachstein, global head of IBM Watson Advertising and The Weather Company, laid out some predictions for how those changes may take shape in the year to come, from a ramping up of discussions around consumer privacy to what a post-Covid-19 new normal might look like.
A shift in the privacy conversation
Bachstein expects pushes for more data privacy policies like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations and California’s Prop 24, which modifies its existing Consumer Privacy Act, to intensify in the coming year. These efforts could create a patchwork of state-by-state regulations that might make it difficult for some companies to scale.
To avoid that situation, IBM is calling on the industry to join in advocating for federal legislation that would standardize rules across the board. “This effort should be collaborative and include viewpoints from a variety of industry partners, councils and big technology brands to ensure legislation works across the entire ecosystem,” Bachstein said.
The consumer’s right to choose
Partly as a result of legislative pushes, consumers will likely have more transparency into what data is being collected on them and how it’s being used, Bachstein predicts. But consumers will also continue to expect personalized experiences, meaning that there will still be a market for targeting.
The pandemic-driven landscape is temporary
Marketers are operating under conditions that are unique to the current state of the pandemic, and Bachstein expects many of those changes to revert next year as the world eventually begins to reopen. While some virtual formats like video conferencing platforms and augmented reality will likely see lasting effects, other trends—like a growth in desktop performance over mobile—will return to the overarching trajectories of the years before the pandemic.
“There are going to be some user behaviors that may stick around,” Bachstein told Adweek. “But as people start going back to work, some of the digital behaviors that we’re seeing will likely return to normal.”
Meanwhile, industries will likely recover from the economic turmoil at different paces. Industries such as travel, publishing and advertising, for instance, may be slower to bounce back from the devastation.
Unified IDs may not be enough
The Trade Desk recently struck a series of major partnerships in the ad-tech industry for its Unified ID 2.0 initiative, which seeks to use encryption to create a standardized replacement for third-party cookies. IBM believes that collaborative efforts like these are a step in the right direction, but ultimately won’t make up for the capabilities that will be lost with the end of third-party tracking.
The future of advertising is rooted in AI
Bachstein maintains that the shift to reliance on AI-gleaned consumer insights will ultimately be as transformative for the ad-tech industry as the transition to programmatic was a decade ago. But the company stresses that adoption will take time, and that consumers and business clients still don’t fully understand the ins and outs of what the technology can do.
“When programmatic came on the scene 10 years ago, it took a while for everyone to really adopt it. And AI is probably going to be similar in that some people will be early adopters of it,” Bachstein said. “But it is going to take education. We’ve got to take AI and make it not a buzzword anymore, but put it into practice to get results.”
Credit: Ad Week