The History of Online Marketing
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The Future of Online Marketing

2020- A Year of Dramatic Change

2020 was certainly a year of dramatic change and this has been marked in a number of ways. For example, many people are now working from home and this change has happened in a short space of time; we have seen that this has pushed online even harder. Companies that have not particularly embraced online in the past are starting to look to change this. Other companies are having to push faster into how they conduct a dual transformation, like brand transformation and how to make use of some of these changes. This has really helped the big tech companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple who have increased their market caps throughout Covid-19 and are making more money than before as well as seeing new giants emerge. For example, Zoom is now valued at £120 billion, with a 40% increase in value in recent months, which just shows how fast things can change.

The Dawn of the Privacy First Omnichannel Era

As spoken about previously we have the 3 eras of marketing: the classical era, the direct response era and the programmatic era. We are now heading into the fourth era of online marketing which can be called the privacy first omnichannel era as it is a year with multiple channels, for example, TV out of home, videos, laptops and phones. This is also the year with multiple platforms and it is all coming ahead with the privacy first regulation. We are now in between a ‘fuzzy’ world where new things are happening and more people have a privacy first attitude. However, some people are still using cookies and data in a way that is seen as undesirable. Nonetheless, this ‘fuzzy’ world may only have a year or so left. This is due to the fact that in May 2018 companies started to enforce GDPR, in fact, it is becoming global. Tech giants are starting to enforce regulation and change faster than some of the makers of regulators and for that reason, we are heading into the privacy first omnichannel world.

ID Wars- The Browsers have Control

Apple released a system called ITP- Internet Tracking Prevention which really hit the heights 18 months ago where cookies were effectively unusable on apple devices for measurement and targeting - and the same goes for Firefox. Google will follow soon in its own different way before the start of 2022, so we only have a year and a half left of the cookies based internet world. These browser changes have impacted media far more than the much spoken of privacy regulation (to this point). The result has been a shift in power to larger publishers with logged in users. So this particularly benefits the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon. However also up and coming networks like Snap, TikTok as well as large traditional media owners and broadcasters.

Technology Dominates the World’s Largest Brands

Technology dominates the world’s largest brands for example Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook, and these brands have control over your identity as they see you logging in regularly. Currently, 80% of online media spend goes to Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Snapchat and Twitter. This money used to go to our leading publishers, newspapers, magazines and independent journalists. This has a huge impact on how advertisers need to behave and how they can get the most out of these big platforms in order to survive.

Connecting to OmniChannel Media

How you utilize the data from big giants has to be done through a series of different connectors; marketers need to make it as easy as possible for brands to get the most seamless value. However, marketers also need to look after their consumers and make sure that their data is handled appropriately and that no data is leaked. When you have multiple connectors there is the risk of data being leaked and this is the biggest omnichannel challenge marketers have in this current era.

How is the media bought?

We are seeing a massive change in how media is bought. In an era where everything is bought online at an auction, buying power is much less effective, whereas in the earlier eras agencies used to rely on buying power to achieve better rates. Therefore, there is a need to be fast and reactive to social media and the need for data security. Consequently, in-housing has become a big topic due to these reasons. It is all about how brands take control over their media and strategies. Being able to buy smart and lay your data across it is a key factor.

Measurement and Attribution

Measurement and attribution have massively changed and is getting much harder. For example, programs like Google Analytics and other measurement systems are being massively impacted already by the changes in the privacy of legislation. Google has also made a change where you can see far less of your search query data than you ever used to. The control that advertisers have over measurement and attribution is slipping from their fingers. There are updated ways in handling this space using different technologies, however, it is going to take a huge change for advertisers to catch up. This leads nicely onto attention, can you always tell who is looking at your ads and is actually showing attention? To build a brand you need to understand who is paying attention and what impact that is having.

Machine Learning and AI

Progressive advertisers now have their data stored in their own platforms, for example, customer data platforms, and they are able to run their own AI scripts to help them understand in detail about their users and how better to handle them. This is hugely powerful, but it has only been made available to the advertisers who are really investing in this space. We are going to see a huge push in automation led by AI to automate the tasks that are happening and working from home will also push automation. Bringing this folder into the mix for marketers is really going to be one of the keys to thriving in the next generation.


Canton realised that we are entering into a fourth era and that change is happening at a rapid speed. For example, as mentioned before, IDs are going to be changing at a great speed and brands need to be ready for this. Canton are set-up for these changes, in fact, Canton has worked in partnership with well-known brands such as Sky and Paddy Power and have been checking their approach to help them take control over their media and strategies. Canton can help brands and agencies deliver integrated and cohesive experiences across all media whilst thinking about the fourth era we are entering into.

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