Major obstacles faced by AdTech industry in 2021 & how to tackle them

Guest Column: Udit Verma, CMO, Co-founder, Trackier, explains how the use of AI & performance-based marketing strategies have become central to digital advertising success

e4m by Udit Verma
Published: Jun 12, 2021 7:57 AM  | 6 min read
Udit Verma

With the emergence of digital media as a key marketing channel and advent of technology as a key driving factor, the last decade has induced major transformation across the ad tech industry. The COVID-19 pandemic has further pushed the industry to its limits, making tech adoption a cornerstone of survival. One thing that the year 2020 has taught advertisers and marketers is to expect the unexpected. With digital consumption increasing enormously due to the pandemic, consumer behavior has also changed drastically. According to the latest Digital Commerce 360 analysis, consumers in the US spent $861.12 billion online in 2020, whereas this figure was $598.02 billion in 2019. There has been a rise of about 44.0% in online spending in the US.

A report by Worldpay FIS, a financial technology product and services provider, ‘The 2021 Global Payments Report’ says the COVID-19 has led to a huge upsurge in the Indian Commerce industry and, going forward, there is substantial room for future growth. 

Consequent to this digital shift, the year gone by also saw some fundamental changes become mainstream in the industry. For example, a significant increase in digital ad spends, the use of AI and machine learning to increase speed, accuracy and gain high customer-centricity and the use of performance based marketing strategies have become central to digital advertising success. Moving forward, these trends are likely to continue in 2021.

This is probably another year of uncertainty for brands and the ones who adapt to the altered digital strategies are the ones who would sail through these difficult times. The game plan will include a better understanding of the online behavior of consumers, be responsive to the content trends while continuing to stick to their plan to provide genuine and meaningful engagement to consumers.

Speed breakers ahead

Advertisers faced immense operational challenges in the year 2020. This has made them more reliant on programmatic media buying and has forced them to look for more efficient solutions to advertise. Data from Crunchbase, a platform that gathers data about the business, suggests that in the last five years there has been a dip in the ad-tech revenue at a 10% compounded rate. But positive signs have emerged now. The emerging consumer behavior from the pandemic has propelled a greater need and inclination towards advertising technology. Digital advertising on online channels such as Facebook, Amazon, and Google are likely to build up about 61% of all advertising in 2021. About 86% of marketers today are banking on video formats for advertising, educating, and entertaining their audience.

Enter the ROI driven world

The changing dynamics of the AdTech world has made performance, data insight and automation key success tools. With the dominance of performance-driven products and solutions, tracking ROI is crucial for any business. Companies are constantly searching for innovative ways to track quantifiable results for their ads and, as a result, are more inclined to put their spends in performance-based ad-tech dynamics to make the most out of their investments.

Performance based marketing is fast emerging as the preferred choice for advertisers. Performance based marketing essentially refers to the practice of paying for online ads only when it leads to a measurable result such as a lead, a click or a sale.

Increasingly, players in the AdTech industry are adopting softwares and platforms that give them trackable and measurable insights into the performance of their ad strategy. Platforms like Trackier have used this emerging space to offer highly customer-friendly multi-channel tracking platforms that help brands measure the true value of their ad campaigns and realign their strategies when not found effective.

The game is changing 

The past decade has seen marketers fixating on delivering personalized marketing solutions. Earlier, these solutions relied on cookies and personal identifiers. The building block of this model has been the colossal data compilation of personal information floating through the system. To date, this data collection had been enabling marketers to keep a track of people's lives online. However, this scenario is going to change now.

Privacy is prime; Safari and Firefox have already blocked third-party cookies by default and taking a step further tech giants like Google and Apple have put a check on cross-site tracking. With Google announcing its plan to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome by 2022, and Apple via updates via ITP, the digital players would now have to refocus their strategies. They will have to rely on probabilistic data to target the audience and get accustomed to the world of unidentified users. But taking this as an opportunity where there is a need to promote innovative techniques to deliver engaging and relevant advertising. In such a scenario, contextual targeting will see a rise. It is more respectful of the user’s privacy and more honest while collecting data. 

Affiliate marketing is transforming

Preferred over traditional ways, affiliate marketing has gained even more importance in the era of increased online advertising. The prime focus of affiliate marketing has always been on value rather than volume. Better designed programs supported by data metrics can improve tracking methodologies and blockchain. Brands will want to divert their funds to channels that show better ROI. This inclination will allow affiliate marketers to trust the connections within their network and re-align their budgets accordingly. It is time for affiliate marketers to be extremely selective about the partners they choose to add to their program.

Factors of growth

The pandemic-induced restrictions have led to an increase in online consumers like never before. This can be the biggest factor that would drive the digital wave in 2021. However more people browsing online would not necessarily mean increased online sales. This is where the role of advertising and marketing becomes pertinent. According to, about 88% of all US digital display ad sum is flowing via automation by 2021. Artificial intelligence-enabled programmatic advertising can automate these processes. Advertisers and agencies to tech vendors will need to revisit their identity strategies and look for efficient solutions, which may be different for different companies.

Reinvention is the key 

For the tech industry, 2021 is the year to move away from the existing systems and invent better ecosystems to better suit the changing situations. This would include looking for better ways to utilize the existing data to target the audience. With data curb from the tech giants, brands need to find more sustainable data supply sources. Questions need to be asked about how the operations would be run in absence of cookies.

It is time for advertisers to look forward to a better understanding of new-age advertising, consumer trends, and the key technology driving it. Consumer attention and devices will be versatile and there will be greater reliance on tools that go beyond universal identifiers. 

As the companies are adopting new-age technologies, it is leading the way for ad tech – especially in the digital space. With the rise of the virtual population and innovative technology, advertisers are hoping that 2021 will be the year of improved digital interactions between brands and consumers.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of

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