If you haven’t noticed yet because you live underneath Dwayne Johnson’s mansion (hint to that joke: his nickname is The Rock) the Internet changes everything. The Internet has already infiltrated most of our lives in a day-to-day and even minute-to-minute way. If, stubbornly, you shout at me “No way, that’s not true!” Ask yourself how you’re reading my words at this very minute. If a considerate friend of yours printed out this blog post to share with you because you insist on being Off The Grid—technically you’re still accessing Internet content. Also, why on earth do you need to read about advertising technologies of the future if you’re off the grid??
I think I’ve made my point.
The Internet is also changing the way that advertising and marketing work, for those who create it as well as for those who rely on it. Let’s look a little bit at the future of advertising and ad tech in the wake of that ever-evolving and ever-involving beast: the Internet. According to inc.com, “in 2017, digital advertising is expected to overtake TV advertising for the first time ever, pulling in $202 billion dollars in the process—a sure sign of the irrevocable transformation of the advertising industry.” You can see this influence, of the Internet over television, in recent firings at Fox News; social media campaigns have resulted in television advertisers pulling their money from certain shows and hosts, resulting ultimately in termination. This illustrates the power and influence of the Internet; clearly, advertisers see more at stake in their Internet presence and the Internet consumer than they do in television. They fear more the loss of support online than on air. This type of rapid transformation, however, often results in overwhelm, some slip ups and the scramble to keep up and get ahead as quickly and smoothly as possible. “Modern advertisers are confronted with the daunting task of riding this massive wave of technological change in the ad industry without getting drowned by it.”
Advertising is now reliant on the vast, seemingly infinite landscape of the Internet, much of which is still uncharted territory. There isn’t a lot of precedences, experience, and historical data to influence decision-making and strategy. Basically, it’s a transition period, moving from the ‘been there, done that” territory of television, film, radio, et cetera and into the “what the heck are we doing” territory of the wide and vast web.
According to inc.com, there are three primary trends to pay attention to in terms of advertising and the future.
1. One thing that is vital to surviving the future as an advertiser, or as someone reliant on advertising, is standing out from the fray. For this reason, advertising is “becoming more dynamic and personalized” with each passing day.
“In the modern ‘attention economy’ where consumer attention is divided across more devices, applications, and formats than ever before, only engaging and relevant ads will command consumer attention.”
In my experience as a consumer, some of the ads I find myself most engaged with are in games I play on my phone and ad breaks during podcasts. The ad breaks in podcasts that engage my attention most are the personalized ones, where the hosts I’m listening to speak naturally, like they do during the show, about their sponsors. In podcasts especially many hosts are straightforward about why they need sponsors and why they need their listeners to support those sponsors, so that the listeners can continue to enjoy the content for free and on a regular basis. This is the same reason I subscribed to The New York Times and The Washington Post recently: I realized that they created content that I appreciated, depended on, and sought out frequently and that they wouldn’t be able to do so without financial support from enough people.
Many of us grew up with the Internet coming free in a lot of ways; but, I think we are learning, and we definitely need to continue to learn, that free content is not sustainable. If the product, service or whatever is worth it, advertising that focuses on its value to the consumer is a safe bet. As far as standing out, we’ve all seen commercials our entire lives. For many of us, they’re an interruption to the content we really desire. If the ad is just as entertaining, informative, or somehow engaging as the content it is interrupting, it will be less of a hassle to the consumer and produce more positive results for those relying on its success. Using personalized data based on demographics and search history is also being increasingly explored to tailor ad experiences to consumers in a way that individualizes it and thereby makes it more engaging. The most recent game I downloaded was advertised in a game I had already been playing; the ad was an opportunity to play the game for a little bit, meaning that when I clicked on it (with my finger) it didn’t take me to another internet page or the app store: I could actually play the game. I enjoyed those few seconds of play so much that I downloaded the game.
Ads on sites like Hulu are increasingly asking viewers “which ad is most relevant to you” and creating a situation where the viewer has to engage with the advertising to some degree. I’ve also seen ads that offer short, commercial break exercises that the viewer can choose from as a part of a fitness program or a gym offer. Thinking outside of the box has always been key in advertising, but it may be even more vital now to keep up and get ahead.
2. The second trend to jump on to be a part of the future of ad tech right now is automated integration. This is also a response to the fact that consumers are spread across an increasing number of platforms. Their attention is divided in such an infinity of unique patterns that utilizing automation, or “real time audience optimization makes it possible for advertisers to identify and target consumers second by second to deliver timely ads that facilitate desired behavior.” I’m not going into hyper-specifics here, but whether your working with an ad agency or working on your own advertising strategies, keep this consumer trend in mind and make sure your advertising rollout involves as many platforms as possible. Automation and audience optimization also means tracking your specific clients’ trends so that you can have automatic ad responses to their real-time behavior. Whether they’re watching something on Hulu, playing a game on their phone, listening to a podcast, or using social media, automated integration strategies will maximize your exposure to your potential clientele. This means working with a plethora of advertising partners, who need to be open to integrating and working with one another. This, in turn, feeds into the final trend for the future of ad tech.
3. Focusing a tremendous amount of advertising budget toward “branding” may be becoming a thing of the past in response to the instantaneous and comprehensive data feedback coming from consumer tracking. “New data streams and attribution models in advertising are making it possible for advertisers to understand the entire conversation flow of their customers. These increasingly complex models attribute proportional credit to each advertising touchpoint over the course of the consumer journey show the relative performance of every channel.”
What you need to do with this information is find out where, what, and how much each consumer interaction point is affecting your revenues; which advertising partners are resulting in what consumer interaction? This means seeking as much transparency as possible. Don’t get stuck in “branding black holes” when the data is available to tell you exactly how consumers are interacting with and responding to your ads on each individual platform. “Demand transparent performance reports from all advertising partners and use this information to develop a holistic attribution model that spans all of your channels.”
These three trends are fairly safe ones to pay attention to in the long run. The final bit of advice as far as attending to ad tech and its trends includes not getting too hung up on momentary trends and developments. Staying on top of new ones is vital to remaining relevant and competitive; but, “the advertising industry is sure to change even more in the next ten years than it did in the last ten.” This means that any new trend could turn into a blip on the radar and you don’t want to commit too much of your time or resources to a blip.
“The most successful advertisers in this data-driven future will be the ones who are willing to take risks on new channels, systems, and processes.”