Drowning in Data or Reaching Relevance? Kantar’s Latest Snapshot of the Global Ad Market



"We’re drowning in data, but what does it mean? So often we have clients coming to us with massive packs of data that they’ve generated asking: 'Can you help us make some sense out of this?'"

"Then there’s the relationship between data and evidence, and creativity and imagination. How do we get some of the best creatives in the country to use data to get to better solutions and see that as a positive thing?'

Andrew Pinkness, Head of Strategic Services, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, UK


Dimension 2018 is Kantar's annual research report dedicated to all things media planning, buying and measurement. This is a quick summary of some of its most interesting findings, from ad blocking, to how brands are using data and the latest customer views on personal targeting:


Online ads still not reaching relevance for Consumers (%)

Despite all its advances, this graph suggests that programmatic still needs improvement, at least as currently practised. Especially for a technique that promised real-time relevance and true personalisation. As we've argued elsewhere, the reality is an undifferentiated, mechanical approach, relying too heavily on unrestrained retargeting and unreliable third-party data.

But what about one of its central tenets - that customers are happy to give up personal data in exchange for ads targeted to them individually?


I don't mind providing...information about myself if it means the advertising I see is more relevant (%)

On the basis of this evidence, people who accept the 'services for personal data' trade off are in the minority. Even where a pricing discount is involved in the exchange, the shift to acceptance is less than you might expect:


I don't mind providing personal data to a website if it means I may get further discounts (%)

Elsewhere, the number of people blocking ads remains at the same level as last year – contextual misplacement being one of the reasons given, along with poor creative.

Interestingly, selective ad blocking seems to be on the rise – which includes paid options on some sites to remove ads altogether. This is also the case because people are blocking on desktop for example, but not mobile – and also because some sites now hide content unless ad blocking is disabled.

While 'ad avoidance' has been associated in the past with a younger demographic, it's interesting to note here that more or less same number of 18-34 as 45-64 year-olds now block ads (23 versus 22%).

In concluding the report, Kantar's advice to advertisers is:

“Ensure better integration between what is said in ads online, and where, when and how it is said.”

The what, online creative, has too often in the past been an afterthought, or hasn't taken full advantage of the medium. The where has also been neglected - and only now are conversations around the true value of context coming back to the fore.

Personal targeting was meant to answer definitively the question of the when and how. Only now are we starting to realise it may not be the endpoint in understanding ad relevance online, but just the beginning.

illuma uncovers relevant audiences and new prospects, without personal data – get in touch for more info, or to set up a product trial.