The future of digital advertising: the trends you need to know | 2020
6 min read

The future of digital advertising: the trends you need to know | 2020

Digital advertising trends are always hot topics of discussion. This is especially true as the world enters challenging and testing times. Today getting the right message in front of the right people – at speed – has taken on even greater importance.

In this article, you’ll learn what trends are shaping the future of digital advertising and how you can embrace them to benefit your business and digital advertising strategy. This includes:

  1. Look after your data strategy – or face the consequences…
  2. Contextual advertising is back
  3. Onsite personalisation through dynamic creative optimisation (DCO)
  4. Take in-housing to the next level
  5. Omnichannel platforms will be a must have
  6. Programmatic TV is growing fast
  7. Creativity is the key commodity for success

The current state of digital advertising

Digital advertising is in the middle of an evolution. Digital advertising is already under siege from the likes of Ad Blockers, Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), and changing data privacy regulations (like GDPR and the up-coming ePrivacy regulation). It took a further hit with Google’s announcement it will phase out third-party cookies in Chrome within two years.

Throw into the mix 90% of consumers saying they find digital ads intrusive. 73% say they dislike repetitive messaging, and another 42% say the ads they see on digital media are irrelevant. It’s easy to see why there’s been talk of the industry being in crisis.

So is this end of digital advertising as we know it? The answer is no, but digital advertising will have to change, become smarter, and proactively work to be relevant to consumers wherever they see it (and whatever platform they experience it on) in order to carry on delivering ROI to advertisers.

To this end, what trends can we expect to see and what should you be doing to ensure your digital advertising continues to deliver returns?

Here’s our breakdown on what you need to know…

Look after your data strategy. Or face the consequences…

Using data effectively is what separates the best marketing strategies from the rest. Data-driven marketing takes large amounts of data and puts it into segments in order to target both potential and existing customers in a more relevant and engaging way.

However, the combination of concerns from consumers over how their data is handled, alongside stricter data privacy legislation (like GDPR and ePrivacy), has meant advertisers have had to rethink how they collect, store, and use data. The onus now is on consent. Consent means putting the customer front and centre, then building your marketing experience around them and their wants. And, once you have their consent as to how you use their data, it gives you everything you need to create more meaningful, relevant and engaging display advertising experiences for them.

Failure to do this has two major consequences; firstly, it erodes consumer trust and confidence resulting in a loss of brand loyalty and potential sales. Secondly, failure to manage your data effectively – and to have the right consent in place – can result in huge fines. 2019 saw the first major fines handed out by the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) in the UK for GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) infringements with fines totalling nearly £300 million given to British Airways and Marriott.

Using data to drive your display advertising is still the way forward but having a robust data strategy and management process in place is crucial for making it successful.

Contextual advertising is back

Following on from the above, advertisers are now reducing their reliance on personal and behavioural data. The result has seen contextual advertising making a big comeback. This is where AI and algorithms are used to place display ads based on sentiment and intent – not past behaviours.

Have an ad promoting the release of brand new running shoes? Then ad tech will place this ad on relevant pages of relevant websites for you. For example, a blog post on the best ways to improve running technique.

This works because the only information the ad tech performing contextual targeting uses is the content of the webpage. And this is to find the most appropriate banner ad for the page. This means personal data isn’t used and the result helps advertisers develop a better understanding over time of where to serve ads and improve both the relevance and impact those ads have.

Onsite personalisation through dynamic creative optimisation (DCO)

DCO is a marketer’s dream. The ability to tailor ads for individuals greatly increases click-through and conversion rates. But what if you could take this further by tailoring your website to individuals?

This is the promise of onsite personalisation through DCO; it’s the power of dynamic advertising brought to your website. Onsite DCO gives you the power to serve up messaging that’s hyper-personalised by replacing generic content with HTML5 ad placements that adjust and change depending on the viewer. It works by using data like demographics, behaviour, and/or geo-location alongside other sources of data – like that from a Customer Data Platform (CDP) or a Data Management Platform (DMP) – to display the most relevant content to the viewer.

For example, say you sent an A/B split test email campaign to your subscribers, with different imagery in each email. If you were using onsite DCO, the images served up to any click-throughs could be set to match those of the email campaign.

In short, it uses the same techniques of combining data and creativity to create personalised messaging at scale that you’d use for display advertising. But instead of it all happening in ads, the magic happens on your website. The benefits of using onsite DCO include: increasing ROI through creativity, gaining real-time control, more personalisation, and greater relevance.

Take in-housing to the next level

In-housing brings a host of benefits. Speed, greater understanding, more control and an increase in ROI. It’s why 85% of marketers have moved, or are moving, operations in house. And it’s going beyond in-housing simply being seen as a way to save money.

In-housing is seeing leaps forward in creativity, with two-thirds of marketers questioned for our State of In-Housing report saying they’d seen an increase in creativity after bringing traditional agency roles in house. And nearly 60% say they are also seeing a positive ROI after making the move.

In light of the challenging and testing times facing businesses across all sectors in 2020, in-housing is becoming even more attractive. Agencies often lack the flexibility to move quickly and adjust to rapidly changing situations. Coupled with this, they’ll never have an understanding to match that of an in-house team. In dynamic and fluid situations, businesses must be agile to respond and this is infinitely easier if  an in-house team in place.

Martech is changing how businesses operate

Thanks to advances in technology, it’s becoming increasingly easier for brands to move marketing functions in-house. Workflows are simpler and processes far quicker thanks to the adoption of new technologies.

As Migu Snäll, the Art Director of If Creative Agency (the in-house agency for insurance giant If) says: “Technology has helped us immensely. Achieving the levels of productivity we need via the old way of working would be extremely expensive. Especially if buying it in from an external company.

“I have a lot of hands-on knowledge of how things used to be – developing and producing vast amounts of display advertising manually. And how it takes a catastrophic number of man hours and personnel!

“Having a platform, like Bannerflow, which makes display production dynamic and gives all our teams, both in-house agency and marketing teams, the same access and functionality is revolutionary. We couldn’t even think about working without it now – it’s a crucial part of how we work.”

Omnichannel platforms will be a must-have

Creative management platforms (CMPs) that work across all channels will no longer be an added bonus – they’ll be a necessity. In its simplest form, a creative management platform, or CMP, is cloud-based software that allows marketing teams to create, distribute, and measure the performance of digital advertising. A CMP is essentially a range of advertising technologies all rolled into one easy-to-use platform.

CMPs offer unrivalled flexibility, increase productivity and efficiency. They enable easy campaign optimisation, and dynamic personalisation at scale. Plus, they help ensure brand consistency across all channels and markets.

What’s more, they have evolved to handle all digital ad formats, from display advertising through to digital out-of-home (DOOH) and social ads. The best CMPs also integrate with services like Salesforce. Thus giving businesses the ability to use data from their CRM systems to create even more compelling and engaging advertising.

This year, they have also come into their element as. Being cloud software CMPs can be used almost anywhere. Meaning whole marketing teams can work remotely in one platform on complex campaigns.

Programmatic TV is a growing digital advertising trend

The ‘streaming wars’ are escalating quickly. With Apple TV and Disney+ taking on Netflix and Amazon, there’s now a global battle happening on multiple fronts. The way consumers watch and interact with their TVs is changing dramatically. And a scramble is underway to ‘own’ the advertising space these new habits present.

It’s why research by PwC predicts programmatic TV will represent approximately a third of global TV ad revenue by 2021. As James Patterson says in this Econsultancy article: “The value of this advertising opportunity mustn’t be underestimated. How often are advertisers presented with the opportunity to reach brand new, valuable audiences – like Gen Z – at scale, through one of the most powerful advertising channels? It’s a no-brainer for brands.

But rather than our favourite shows being broken up into the 15-minute portions we grew up with on linear, we’ll see TV advertising innovate beyond recognition with CGI product placement and branded content developed to complement the viewing experience.”

The model of how this works in practice is still forming but big business is paying close attention to how advertising for ‘the new TV’ evolves and develops.

Creativity is the key commodity for success

Advances in technology, AI, and algorithms are, of course, exciting but they only take us so far. For digital advertising to be successful, it has to have creativity at its heart. As we’ve found out in 2020, the world around us can change rapidly. For brands to survive and thrive in such conditions, they need to be creative. They need to think outside the box, to pivot, and to diversify if necessary.

That’s why using tech – and solutions like CMPs – in the right way is essential. They can enhance the creative process while at the same time removing unnecessary distractions. And with full creative control over your advertising, you can create brilliant campaigns that both resonate with audiences and deliver results.

When tech, data and creativity combine, whether it’s digital storytelling and DCO, it creates a powerful proposition consumers can’t ignore.

Next steps

If you want to find out more about how a CMP like Bannerflow can help power your digital advertising in 2020 and beyond, then get in touch for a demo and see the future unfold before your eyes.

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