What does the future hold for online advertising?

This year, it’s predicted that global digital ad spend will total a whopping US$333.25 billion (around £263.01 bn), rising by an impressive 17.6% from 2018. This means that, for the very first time, digital will make up around half the global advertising market.

In the UK, Barclays predicts that digital ad spend will hit £15bn, reports The Drum. Whichever way you look at it, online advertising is big business. But with digital trends shifting so rapidly, what changes are we likely to see down the track? asked experts to give their predictions, and here’s what you need to know about the future of online advertising.


Smarter technologies

Advertisers are already harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and boost ad efficiency through better optimisation. But there’s currently some serious, untapped potential and possibilities that will be unlocked soon.

Keith Eadie, VP and GM of Adobe Advertising Cloud says, “Imagine a media-buying platform where a marketer can input goals – sales, new customers, loyalty program sign-ups – and a transparent algorithm does the rest, executing buys and optimising every millisecond.” He gives another example of an ad that dynamically changes the voiceover tone based on viewer preferences.

The merging of AI with human creativity will completely transform advertising. At the moment, we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg.


More automated

This year, eMarketer estimates that more than 70% of digital video and more than 80% of display ads will be bought through automated channels.

Programmatic advertising is no longer a siloed channel; it’s simply how businesses are buying ads. As a result, the focus is shifting from execution to strategy and forming a better connection through marketing and advertising.

Droga5’s chief intelligence officer, Amy Avery, said the main appeal of programmatic for advertisers is efficiency – but it must be about effectiveness, as well. She can’t picture the landscape ever being 100% programmatic, but it will increase once “effectiveness variables come into play.” And that will happen, says Avery, as AI is put to widespread use for context and clues to inspire messaging.  

Still, advertisers that features elements of storytelling, brand value and other experiential tactics will always require a human driver.


More measurable

Jennifer Breithaupt, global consumer CMO at Citi, rightly points out that measurement is key to demonstrating the value of advertising in relation to overall ROI. But as advertisers’ tactics shift, measurement will need to shift too.

She gives the example of experience-based campaigns currently being hard to quantify, despite having a huge impact on brand perception. “We need to evolve the measurement model to align,” she said.

These days, clicks and visits aren’t the only metrics for success. Therefore, the future will require marketers to figure out how to bring those metrics together to tell a holistic story.

It will become equally as important to measure experiences in new and emerging ad formats, such as VR and AR.

Other expert predictions see online advertising becoming more experiential, as advertisers appeal to consumers with one-of-a-kind experiences. There’ll be more transparent and safe experiences, with brands committed to maintaining a strong brand image by running ads in a positive, trusted environment.

The pace of change in the digital space is incredible. Keeping up with the pace isn’t enough. If you want to stay ahead of it, you need the right people.