This rise is expected to continue, with digital advertising predicted to represent 50% of total advertising spend across the world this year.

While immediate investment is something of a certainty, what trends are set to impact the digital ad industry as we head further into the year and beyond?

Subscribers can read more on the topic in Econsultancy’s Getting to Grips with Digital Advertising: Best Practice Guide. In the meantime, let’s take a look at some of the most notable innovations that advertisers should be aware of.

Artificial intelligence

We have only just scratched the surface of what artificial intelligence can do for the advertising industry. So far, this has largely extended to improving ad relevancy, optimising spend, or enhancing personalisation.

One good example of AI being utilised in this way is Toyota’s 2017 ad campaign for its Mirai vehicle. The campaign made use of natural language processing in order to create advertising copy tailored to thousands of potential buyers and their specific needs.

According to AdWeek, Saatchi LA did this by training IBM’s Watson AI marketing engine with fifty scripts of relevant copy based on location, behavioural insights, and occupation data. Watson was then able to deliver thousands of pieces of copy (explaining the car’s features and how they are relevant to the user), with each one sounding as if they were written by a human. The campaign ran solely on Facebook, allowing Toyota to make use of the platform’s complex behavioural data and targeting capabilities.

This intersection of creativity and data (whereby the AI is used to enhance human input) is where many experts see the technology’s big potential. It is far removed from stereotypical assumptions about AI.

In Econsultancy’s report, Marek Wrobel, Head of Media Futures at Havas, notes: “The best results happen when AI works with human insight, and in our industry, this will mean we’ll have more time to spend on creativity rather than, for example, reporting or optimisation.”

Conversational technology

It is the norm for brands to target users with advertising on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. However, chatbots have also enabled brands to talk to users in text-based conversations, and to create an informal and less disruptive style of communication.

Could the next step be a big shift to messaging services like WhatsApp?

In 2018, Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging service introduced a business version of its app. This means that businesses can now share their company details within a profile, as well as handle customer service enquiries and interactions. This is a different proposition to WhatsApp allowing intrusive ads onto its platform. However, the social messaging platform hasn’t been quite so firm in its stance against this either. In late 2018, it was reported that WhatsApp was to launch ads in its Status feature, marking its first real foray into monetisation.

Whether or not WhatsApp expands on ads, experts predict that we will see brands of all kinds start to seriously consider the app from a marketing perspective. Peter Buckley, Communications Planner at Facebook, explains: If you think about how you communicate with your friends and family, it’s most often messaging. Yet businesses are a little bit slow on the uptake with messaging – communications are most often via call centres or email.”

In future then, we can expect to see a shift to messaging platforms, in order for businesses to enhance both customer service as well as marketing.

whatsapp business

Connected technology

Advertisers must think differently in the context of a connected world. This is one of the biggest takeaways from Econsultancy’s report.

This is because technology such as smartwatches, cars, and household appliances (like fridges or thermostats) have opened up a wealth of valuable new data and potential insight for advertisers to draw upon. Of course, some brands are already making use of this data. Take Siemens, for example, which has partnered with Finish dishwasher tablets. Siemens’ ‘Home Connect’ technology updates the owner’s Amazon shopping basket when their supply of dishwasher tablets is running low.

In a more simplistic sense, the connected world also just means the opportunity for a larger amount of screens – i.e. on our car dashboard or freezer door. This means that advertisers will need to think beyond connected TV’s and smartphones (and standard 16:9 ads).

That being said, advertisers must also think differently in terms of how they approach advertising on connected devices. Providing something of value for consumers is key, and a necessity if brands want to ensure real results (rather than apathy towards an ad-saturated world).

connected tech