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AdTech Reboot

Top Nine AdTech topic trends

Picture of Judy Shapiro

Judy Shapiro

Editor-in-Chief at The Trust Web Times
Picture of Judy Shapiro

Judy Shapiro

Editor-in-Chief at The Trust Web Times

And what does it all mean?

Topic Trends from October 19 – November 6; Volume 1 | Edition 1

The Topic Trust Index is a new series that tracks top topics in AdTech over a three-week period. Its purpose is to helps marketers understand what’s happening now and what’s coming tomorrow.

  • Stay on top of how AdTech priorities are changing over time
  • Gain new insight into the your AdTech investments or technologies that you already have that can evolve



The topics in this report are based on the technology from Topic Intelligence™ (TI) data platform that is able to audits the web content to derive human-level topics that are precise and relevant.

For this report, TI audited leading trade, business, social and news outlets covering advertising and AdTech to identify top topics covering the 3 weeks from October 19 through November 6. Going forward, we will publish a new report every three weeks giving marketers the long term trends in marketing and AdTech.


  • Advertisers are looking for digital options outside the typical AdTech options in pursuit of the “real” Judy Consumer. New non-traditional players, like Walmart, are making overt plays
  • All things TV are important now given increasing advertiser desire to reach “real” audiences that too often elude marketers when they use digital and programmatic media
  • Job losses, especially among more seasoned professionals, are deepening across the marketing world: AdTech firms; Publishers; Agencies  
  • The industry is taking a hard look at all things “personalization” assessing if the financial investment is worth the effort because skepticism abounds about whether content personalization leads to better revenue.
  • A subtopic of personalization is conversational marketing, i.e. – chatbots, which continue to under-deliver as there is a lack a expertise merging communications technology within a marketing tech stack


Quick data tour: MACRO TOPICS

Macro trends identify the big trending topics

Quick data tour: MICRO TOPICS

Micro trends identifies the sub-topics that animate Macro topics



Top Nine Macro Topics:

What it does it mean?

  • The top topic (#1) revolved around how non AdTech centric business like Walmart are putting their toe in the AdTech waters.
  • Important topics around personalization, including conversational marketing, have been demoted – (#9) – potentially reflecting advertiser fatigue around this difficult and expensive marketing function.
  • As digital web faces new tracking challenges, themes centering on all things TV are percolating to the top like Connected TV and Netflix since these channels are better able to verify their audiences
  • There is an emerging inter-relationship between marketing agility and topics covering video, streaming services and Connected TV yet marketers are still struggling to develop agile marketing organizations in the real world (see the micro topics below that drive the macro topic – Marketing Agility)
  • Facebook is looking for direct “hooks” into a Brand’s ad infrastructure to strengthen its footprint among advertisers. This play is meant to reduce AdTech’s large budget hold in digital and programmatic advertising.
  • Three time-sensitive topics emerged; Fox (election news), Netflix and Job losses in advertising. These topics emerged as Covid continues to spread aggressively globally


Top Micro Topics That Animate the Nine Macro Topics:

  1. Top micro topics for the Walmart Advertising Business Macro topic:

What does it mean?

> Top trending topic is Walmart’s push into the advertising industry to compete against pure ad platforms like Google and Facebook.

> Notably, Walmart is looking to expand its advertiser base beyond products sold at Walmart.

> Be on the lookout for new, non-traditional ad channels opportunities that has the potential promise to reach real people better than pure digital plays


2. Top micro topics for the Connected TV Macro topic:

What does it mean?

This was a surprising topic as Connected TV has been in the background for a long time but it is now being elevated to dominance for a few reasons:

> First, Covid lockdowns have made this category more important and players, like AT&T are upping their game in this space

> Second, as AdTech continues to struggle with issues of transparency, Connected TV offers advertisers a better opportunity to reach real people versus fake “impressions”

> Third, this category is still a WIP with Quibi collapsing so spectacularly


3. Top micro topics for the Netflix Macro topic:

What does it mean?

> This topic is inter-related to the Macro topic about Connected TV (above).

> Netflix, as a stand alone topic, reflects Netflix new found muscle as a result of it s market strength during Covid


4. Top micro topics for the Marketing Agility Macro topic:

What does it mean?

This is a perennial topic because it speaks to the operating model that marketers need to evolve and/ or adapt to. It continues to vex many marketers because:

> The challenge has always been about the “how” of marketing agility which is less straightforward

> Advertisers continue to think about agile “channels” instead of agile of organizations and practices

> It is difficult to create agile marketing functions that are calibrated to sync up with fluid sales requirements


5. Top micro topics for the Advertising Job Losses Macro topic:

What does it mean?

This topic speaks for itself.

> The industry has been experiencing a debilitating brain drain for a long time especially in the age of Covid, as budget get constrained 

> Covid offered many companies an operational excuse to trim their most expensive employees in favor of cheaper employees to shore up profits


6. Top micro topics for the Fox News Macro topic:

What does it mean?

This topic is multi layered covering a two subordinate themes.

> Election news. Fox was a major news outlet for tens of millions of people in the run up to and the current chaotic post election period

> Advertising play. As Fox becomes a mainstream media outlet, it is looking to monetize its large and devoted audience especially in comparison to its media competitors like CNN and MSNBC


7. Top micro topics for the Facebook Ad Server Integration Macro topic:

What does it mean?

> This was the most surprising topic of this period as Facebook faces both operational and ethical challenges: > Managing its “political” and consumer reputation during the election cycle and; > Shoring up its advertiser reputation in light of Facebook’s glitchy new ad platform

 > Facebook is looking to change its game by embedding itself directly into Advertiser’s infrastructure.


8. Top micro topics for the Personalization Macro topic:

What does it mean?

> This topic has been an evergreen topic for marketers as it promised a better user experience. Yet, advertiser sentiment is changing about whether this function is operationally viable given all the new privacy challenges.

> Micro topics that dominate, not surprisingly, are around automation and the ROI of personalization.

Sidebar note: Gartner projected in Dec 2019 that: “80% of Marketers Will Abandon Personalization Efforts by 2025.”–of-marketers-will-abandon-person


9. Top micro topics for the Conversational Marketing Macro topic:

What does it mean?

Conversational marketing is highly related to the Personalization Macro topic but is embedded within communications tech infrastructure. This complicates execution in three ways:

> Goal to create a frictionless user experience in customer support, purchase and product information has been hampered by a lack of expertise in merging marketing requirements with communications infrastructure

> Micro topics center on challenges executing marketing and communications interoperability – i.e. – chatbots, call center and cloud computing

> Interestingly, Tiktok is a micro topic even though it has no direct “conversational” dimension to it suggesting it is considered an “intimate” communications platform


Powered By: Topic Intelligence Platform

Detailed Methodology:

Topic Intelligence™ AI assesses which topics were most important based on how often and how detailed the topic was represented in all media audited. Top topics were then assessed with a TI Score representing the topic’s relative importance to other topics. The higher the score, the more important the topic dominated over the audited period. Topic Intelligence AI also identifies how many real people are engaged with the topics represented