What mattered in 2018?

What mattered in 2018?

06 Dec 2018

Our CtrlShift experts weigh in on what was the most important development or theme of 2018 for marketers.



One could say that 2018 was a rollercoaster year for digital advertising. From the implementation of the GDPR in Europe, Facebook’s ongoing woes, Sir Martin Sorrell’s exit from WPP, to the intense scrutiny over advertiser use of consumer data – There’s much for marketers to take in and reflect upon as they look ahead to 2019.

But amidst the flurry of industry developments, what was the defining moment or theme of the year? We ask some of our experts for their take on what really mattered:




Dominic Powers
Chief Executive Officer

WHAT: The fall and rise of Sorrell
WHY: If we are honest nobody expected him to bounce back so quickly in such an in-your-face-WPP Board - way. He has been smart, strategic, and forward thinking. The agency or marketing services provider of the future that has been spoken about by many, may just become a reality in 2019. An organisation that believes that brands can own and manage some of the consumer journey; a services company that understands that they will need to work with first-party data on their client's terms; a service company that will support the entire marketing supply chain under one brand. Maybe.




Ganga Chirravuri
Chief Technology Officer

WHAT: The shift in adtech’s purpose
WHY: 2018 has shown a remarkable shift in the marketer's focus in looking for direct, discernable and quantifiable answers to the question of automated buying in whole and programmatic specifically. Knowledge of the ad tech space, its differentiation and purpose has taken a significant and deliberate shift fueled by, in some cases, new hires coming from the agency and vendor side into the marketer or digital teams and/or by marketers sharing a lot more knowledge among each other. This has also ensured that fragmentation in the name of innovation may not get support and instead, consolidation will only grow in the coming months. I believe aggregators, fluidity in workflow and ease of audience targeting and measurement will be the areas of innovation in ensuring brand safe environments moving forward.




Paula Harrison
Chief Solutions Officer

WHAT: A.I. ambitions get realistic
WHY: If there was a defining “lightbulb” moment, I would say 2018 was the year that marketers began to understand that A.I. was not some silver bullet that technology could fire off and have it solve all problems. This is the year they actually began to realise firstly, the importance of continued human intervention and secondly, the importance of data skills to an organisation. This bodes well for 2019 and setting realistic expectations and meaningful progress for A.I.-powered solutions in business environments.




John Thankamony
Head of Programmatic Strategy

WHAT: The GDPR changes by Google
WHY: GDPR affected many changes in ad tech, and changed the measurement and attribution ball game. One of the major developments was the sunsetting of the DoubleClick ID. The data stringed together by the DoubleClick user identifier was leveraged by many players who used the data transfer to bring granular data into their systems for analysis and potentially activation. Now analysis is possible only within the Google Cloud environment purpose-built for this - Ads Data Hub, with activation possible only within the Google environment. A number of advertisers are still trying to understand how to work their way around that one.




Kar Wai Low
Regional Lead, Trading and Operations

WHAT: The evolution of data usage
WHY: There has been an exponential growth of data points as more users go mobile. More data owners are also now monetising their data, plus the sophistication of technology has grown to help digest, make sense, and make use if it. All of these, plus buyer demands, have compounded the creativity around data segmentation.




Serm Teck Choon
Country Head, Malaysia / Head Of Product

WHAT: Transformation
WHY: The events of this year prove that whether you are a client, agency, ad tech provider or publisher, you not only need to adapt but evolve so you can continually play a role in the industry. To transform, or not to transform, is no longer the question. AI, blockchain, IOT, automation … new technologies emerge every day and we have to learn, unlearn and relearn in order to keep up and stay relevant.




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