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IAB and PwC Study Finds Digital Advertising Ripe for Reinvention to Help Meet Consumer Expectations

IAB Outlook: 2022 Digital Ad Ecosystem Report & Webinar 1

Six Months After Initial Study: Consumers Want More Utility; Privacy Regs Loom; and the Ad Ecosystem Struggles to Retain Talent

NEW YORK — October 15, 2021 – Six months after its first study, PwC and IAB, the digital media and marketing trade association, have collaborated again with industry thought leaders across the digital ad-supported ecosystem to discuss key challenges and opportunities facing this industry in a report titled

“IAB Outlook: 2022 Digital Ad Ecosystem,” sponsored by Amazon Ads, DoubleVerify, Rakuten, and Taboola.

While the US digital advertising industry is expected to remain a bright spot in an otherwise tough year (it defied expectations with double digit growth by end of 2021), the serious challenges looming require immediate attention from all facets of the industry. Of the concerns identified by the leaders interviewed for the IAB’s fall report, the increasing lack of consumer tolerance for advertising–particularly within digital video–requires immediate focus and change. With more choices to obtain content via ad-free and ad-light environments than ever before, consumers will likely require alternative advertising that delivers useful and relevant experiences through different types of formats.

Advertising’s Value Proposition Must Change

“This report helps make it clear that we must acknowledge that consumer expectations are rapidly changing. Irrelevant and increased ad loads are not the solution. They want better, more useful ad experiences”, said David Cohen, CEO, IAB. “They want us to re-focus on their needs, reimagine ad formats, and reinvent what advertising can be. The next creative revolution needs to be about utility, not just cleverness.”

The study shows that what consumers value most are ‘convenience’, ‘knowledgeable and friendly service’, and “efficiency.’ Four times as many consumers wanted ‘efficiency’ (60%) as ‘fun’ or ‘brand image’ (15%).

Commenting on this, Sue Hogan, SVP Research & Analytics, IAB said, “The data is a clarion call to accelerate shoppable and other formats that can allow the consumer to experience, explore, query and purchase. Advertisers and their agencies would be wise to look at the innovations in publishing that focus on anticipating consumer needs and shrinking the number of clicks to provide what consumers want. Digital advertising should have the same kind of intent and reinvention to thrive – or risk losing scale.”

Employee Value Proposition Must Change, Too

The urgent need to shift to what consumers value is mirrored by a need to shift to what employees value. PwC and IAB reveal that industry leaders are concerned that there could be a weakening of focus on DEI as HR organizations scramble to fill open positions. There’s a deep desire for flexibility in how and where US employees work is likely impacting the acquisition, development and retention of top talent. There is an urgent need to identify, attract and grow talent in the face of steep competition.

Additional Study Findings:

●      Both Federal government attention–as well as keen focus from the advertising industry-is needed to help brands prepare for regulatory changes in privacy policies and actions by walled gardens. US brands, agencies, publishers, and ad tech companies may not be nearly as ready as they need to be to deal with these critical data privacy issues that can derail growth.

●      To help make sure all consumers are considered, we should obtain perspectives from every angle. The next creative revolution should be inclusive and should start right now.

About IAB

The Interactive Advertising Bureau empowers the media and marketing industries to thrive in the digital economy. Its membership comprises more than 650 leading media companies, brands, and the technology firms responsible for selling, delivering, and optimizing digital ad marketing campaigns. The trade group fields critical research on interactive advertising, while also educating brands, agencies, and the wider business community on the importance of digital marketing. In affiliation with the IAB Tech Lab, IAB develops technical standards and solutions. IAB is committed to professional development and elevating the knowledge, skills, expertise, and diversity of the workforce across the industry. Through the work of its public policy office in Washington, D.C., the trade association advocates for its members and promotes the value of the interactive advertising industry to legislators and policymakers. Founded in 1996, IAB is headquartered in New York City.

IAB Media Contacts
Kate Tumino / Brittany Tibaldi
212-896-1252 / 347-487-6794
[email protected] / [email protected]


Download the 2022 Digital Ad Ecosystem Report