2017 was the year the industry got its much-needed wake-up call. The question now isn’t whether marketers can fix a broken system but how they’ll make it better.

Polish must be applied to brands’ strategies in 2018 — with a loss of growth likely where it’s not — guided by a demand for high-quality experiences that are delivered on both a global and local scale and that leverage new technologies and data to offer true personalization.

Last year, marketers took necessary inventory on the myriad issues harming their industry, with many finally deciding to directly address a murky digital media landscape. Now that a cleanup is underway, failing to take the next step and deliver better experiences portends grave consequences, with Forrester Research forecasting a loss of growth as the customer experience declines for 30% of businesses and industries in 2018. These headwinds will be felt in the boardroom as well, as more CMOs have their roles diminished or eliminated altogether to be replaced by chief growth officers.

“Recognizing and identifying the transparency gaps in the system have been necessary steps. Now it’s time to put solutions in place,” Brian Benedik, VP and global head of ads monetization at Spotify, told Marketing Dive via email. “It’s imperative that marketers, agencies, publishers and platforms collaborate to make this happen and rebuild trust.”

“Marketers have basic, legitimate expectations around their media investments, including financial transparency, brand safety, viewable and audible messaging, bots and more,” he added. “These are table-stakes now for publishers and platforms.”

A call for greater transparency will extend beyond the B2B space to affect consumers in 2018. Whether or not certain benchmarks are hit on the path toward achieving digital transformation, this trend will open a new “can of worms” for marketers, according to Rebecca Coleman, founding partner at the creative agency Something Massive.

As marketers demand more transparency, consumers, too, will expect brands to be more open about where their products come from and what they stand for. For national brands that aren’t exactly “farm-to-table,” per Coleman, it will be necessary in 2018 to think about how to communicate value in a way that also makes customers feel better.

 

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