The Future of Advertising: 5 Predictions and Expert Views

In this era of increasing rates of change, the future of advertising is both known and unknown. One aspect remains a guaranteed constant: billions and billions are spent today on digital advertising, and billions and billions will still be spent tomorrow.

Industry experts agree that keeping track of trends and flexing agility will be critical to help optimize advertising budget allocation to get the best ROI.  What are these trends? How will advertising evolve? How should advertisers evolve their own thinking?

Here are 5 predictions and expert views to help advertisers to own the future…today.

The future of advertising is about engagement

The metrics of today are only surface deep: impressions, clicks. They don’t fully capture what a brand wants to know, namely, how a customer responds emotively to a brand and how they actually engage with an advertisement and with that brand.

There’s a shift today towards measuring metrics around authentic engagement, not just surface-level exposure. New technologies are enabling this more granular measurement in many ways:

  • Biometric data: Using facial recognition technologies or speech analysis to help measure the efficacy of an ad or sales call by determining customer responses outside of clicks and views (slightly creepy but helpful for fast iteration of different ads and sales approaches)
  • Emotive measurement: Creating sets of data to help define what a customer’s emotional response is to an ad
  • Interactive content: Capturing a user’s interaction with content like hotspots clicks or rotation of the phone to view immersive content
future of advertising engagement example
Using device rotation as a way to measure the extent by which users engage with immersive content

I think of engagement as representing two-way communication between a brand and consumers. In the past, companies treated customers as passive recipients of their marketing messages. First, the digital revolution and, now, the social revolution have created the opportunity for customers to be more actively involved in marketing campaigns. This is moving brands away from “bullhorn” marketing tactics to creating two-way dialogues. – Jay Henderson, Director of Strategy at IBM

The future involves evolving content formats

Content has evolved over time. We’ve gone from text to image to video and now to immersive and interactive content.

But even in just the last 5-10 years, we’ve seen drastic shifts in content consumption and formats.

A democratization of content creation took place with YouTube and the camera phone. This has led to User-Generated Content as an effective advertising channel.

As attention spans have declined, we see short video clips (RIP Vine) and GIFs being able to communicate a lot in a little bit of time.

Interactive formats like games and interactive 360° video have allowed for deeper engagement.

This impacts display advertising greatly. Flat images have been less and less effective and advertisers are experimenting with new display ad formats like in-banner games and 3D Display Ads.

future of advertising content progression
One example of content progression is moving from flat to 3D content.

The future uses emerging tech more wisely

The problem finds the technology, not vice versa.

Buzzwords in tech sweep the advertising community every day: AI, VR, Blockchain, etc. But as the hype cycles of emerging technologies become shorter and businesses become smarter about incorporating new technologies, brands will start to think business objectives first to better inform tech experimentation.

For example, briefs working to incorporate VR won’t just include VR in a media plan for the sake of it. It’s about including VR in a media plan with X stated ROI. Technology alone won’t influence a customer’s purchase decision. Brands are starting to adopt performance-driven experimentation strategies to ensure separate the froth from the real.

The future thrives with tribes

90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. People look to other people for recommendations before they trust a brand.

A brand that succeeds amidst the clutter and noise of the digital landscape is one that manages to create authentic relationships with its customers. Customers become brand advocates and salespeople, creating a growth engine for the brand.

This is what Seth Godin refers to as the Tribe.

When you think of Apple and the ubiquity of its devices, fan following, online independent websites dedicated to all things Apple, this is what a powerful, fanatic tribe looks like.

The real magic behind building and nurturing a tribe is that it’s rooted in human connection. Not AI, not VR, not hyperlocal targeting–no buzzwords. Tribes just mean your customers love your brand, sell your brand, and live your brand. It’s the greatest form of engagement and authenticity that goes beyond logo–it gets into the why the brand even exists and the problems they solve for their customers. It’s the past, present, AND future of advertising.

future of advertising tribe apple macrumors example

The future of advertising revolves around multiple digital touch points

As business digitize, brands now have multiple online touchpoint opportunities with their customers, whether in the awareness and acquisition stage, or in the activation and engagement stage. A consistent brand voice is critical amongst all these touchpoint (and the channels through which these touch points are created).

When it comes to advertising specifically, experts recommend thinking about:

  • Personalization: Dynamic creatives and local targeting helps meet the customer where they are in the purchase journey
  • Moving to a lifetime brand relationship: Meeting customers at every touchpoint. Advertising and marketing is now product marketing, it’s now customer success. It’s every part of the funnel, all orchestrated in a consistent concert of brand communication. Display advertising becomes part of this as well, as retargeting plays a larger role in connecting with customers.

future of advertising customer experience example

People expect to be able to engage across multiple touch points anytime and seamlessly transition between them. Companies need a full picture of what that journey looks like for any individual, and understand their pain points.– Catharine Findiesen Hays, co-author of Beyond Advertising: Creating Value Through All Customer Touchpoints