The Walled Gardens of Digital Marketing
Juan MoronvelezAugust 26, 2015
One of the main benefits of digital marketing happens to be its very own curse: virtually everything can be measured. Nevertheless, this brings fairness to the industry, advertisers and agencies as they are able to compare and measure efficiencies of different media owners and build an appropriate media plan for their clients.
Over the years, many things have changed; we have gone from the primitive CTR to more appropriate metrics such as Viewability, ROI, attributed CPA or even effective reach. Digital marketing has reached a pulse point in which measurement techniques define the ability of an agency to understand the performance of their client’s campaigns.
In this process digital attribution has been presented as the holy grail of measurement: the ability to compare how efficient each player is in a media plan based on a set of rules, differing for each advertiser, campaign or goal. The open nature of the Ad Tech industry has enabled this, but with the increasing trend of creating walled gardens, this whole utopia will probably come to an end.
Software operating systems and video game consoles are perfect examples of walled gardens; they have never changed concepts, and they don’t plan on changing with the industry in the future. However, in the ad tech world, standardization has been a long fight for everyone (from demand to offer). Having a closed ecosystem approach seems very primitive, and it is definitively a step backwards in the digital media marketplace.
Xaxis’ vision has been to always have an open environment in which advertisers are able to verify and compare the performance of the different players in their campaigns. Closed environments are a threat to this because there are blind spots, especially with more standardized metrics such as Viewability and non-human traffic. Companies that add immense value in the fields of analytics, attribution and cross device analysis will find walled gardens as a huge bump in the road. Independent brand lift studies, attribution analysis and any other digital media research will now be almost impossible within those walls.
Each player has their own arguments, and we could easily assume that centralized revenue and total control are just a few. Ultimately, walled gardens will have greater negative impact in the media planning process, especially now when KPIs are being more standardized. Being unable to track a portion of the media plan under a set of metrics will either push everyone towards metrics imposed by the closed ecosystems, turn everyone against those practices, or, eventually, open the walls to accept innovation. Time will tell, or perhaps, it will be the advertisers that will tell.