Don’t Get Left Behind: Trends in Digital Advertising

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Social media maven and digital guru Gary Vaynerchuck had a bit in his keynotes from as early as 2012 where he talked about billboards. Here’s what he said:

“People aren’t looking at billboards, they aren’t even looking at the road.”

Can you guess what they are looking at?

Yup, their phones, watches, and tablets. He goes on to say that in the past, passengers could absorb lots of advertising by just looking out the window, but now, how many passengers are actively engaging with what’s going on outside their windows?

Most are checking Twitter or Snapchat, that’s how important digital media has become in our lives today.

While “content marketing” has been the biggest buzzword over the last year or two, no brand can survive on just that alone, digital marketing is still not only a very important, but also viable part of the mix (even if it’s not quite as sexy of late).

So, it shouldn’t come as a huge shock that digital advertising has taken a massive step forward in the last few years. And, all signs are pointing towards a continued growth of it over the long run.

The Rise of Digital Advertising

In 2015, a study run by the Interactive Advertising Bureau found that digital advertising spend has been exploding, not just over the last year or two, but the last twenty years. From the Senior VP of Research, Analytics, and Measurement, Sherrill Mane:

“This is our 20th year of reporting,” said Sherrill Mane, svp of research, analytics and measurement at the IAB. “After 20 years of being measured, the industry is still experiencing double-digit growth. I don’t know if that’s happened before to an industry being measured for [two decades]—I looked and failed. It’s hard to find.”

It’s hard to envision this spending to slow down anytime soon.

In fact, a study done by eMarketer in late 2015, projected that digital advertising spend would continue to rise through at least 2019, with 2016 being the first year where digital display advertising will outspend search advertising. Take a look at this chart from the study:

Ad spending, especially those on social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, will continue to be a growing part of digital advertising spend.

In the same study, eMarketer also broke this spending down by device as well. Here you can see the results:

The thing that really sticks out the most here, is the dramatic increase in mobile digital advertising spending. It’s projected to increase by approximately 3.5 times over the next few years, while the spending on desktops is continuously ticking downwards.

Consumer usage also has been tracking along these lines as well, as this chart from SmartInsights illustrates:

You can see in 2008 adults only spent approximately 12% of their total time spent online on mobile devices. In 2015, that number had skyrocketed to 51% of the time, over half.

What’s interesting here is that the amount of time spent on desktop devices hasn’t changed that much, so you’re not seeing people move from one experience to another, rather it’s more users both being added, and spending way more time consuming content online today.

So, is it any wonder more and more brands are looking to increase their digital advertising spending?

Digital Advertising Trends

Now that we know digital advertising is here to stay for the near future, let’s take a look at some of the biggest trends that are popping up.


Right now, video is huge. You can find any number of articles out there right now talking about how 2016 is the year for video marketing. And, with good reason.

Video is an amazing tool that brands have been increasingly using to help both educate consumers on their products, and move them through the buying cycle. Social media outlets like Facebook and the ever growing Snapchat have been able to build platforms that enhance video for consumers making it engaging and interactive.

That will only continue over time as approximately “73% of B2B marketers say video positively impacts ROI.

Programmatic Advertising

Programmatic what?

Here’s a quick and dirty explanation:

In a nutshell, programmatic advertising automates the decision-making process of where ads are placed, using artificial intelligence (AI) and real-time bidding (RTB) for online display, mobile and video campaigns — and it’s making inroads into TV and social media, too.

This has a couple of important fingers in the digital advertising pie. First, it helps streamline the ad process by using automation and data. Second, it helps remove some of the blown ad spend on guessing what you “think” might be your target audience. And third, it helps reduce costly fraud, something that costs the industry billions (yes billions) of dollars.

More Data

Marketers just love data. It can tell them an incredible amount about their customers, something that “off-line” data just can’t quite provide as accurately or as in depth. With digital advertising running across a number of platforms and devices, a marketer can now target a highly specific group of people and find out much more about their shopping, browsing, and purshasing habits than ever before.

Expect this trend to continue and as personalization becomes more and more important to reach their consumers for advertisers, this digital data collection is going to play a much bigger role.

Native Advertising

While native advertising isn’t anything new, it is going to be taking on new life in the coming years because of the increase in ad blockers. Estimates are that the use of ad blockers increased by over 40% year on year in the last year, causing marketers to scramble for new ways to connect with their consumers.

Native advertising can help solve this issue, because let’s face it, chances are ad blockers aren’t going to be going away anytime soon. This is where smart and creative marketers can look to create advertising that speaks directly to their ideal consumer, educating them, entertaining them, engaging them, and providing value.

Interactive Content Marketing

So, we aren’t quite ready to completely ignore how important content marketing is right now, and how digital advertising can embrace it. Rather than continuing to produce content and display it the same old way, marketers can look to interactivity.

Creating things like calculators, quizzes, and applications that drive consumers towards your products or services, while presenting content they find valuable in a new and creative way can be a winning formula.

It’s already been shown that interactive content has a higher conversion rate than things like a conventional white paper. Ion Interactive found “Interactive content, such as apps, assessments, calculators, configurators and quizzes, generate conversions moderately or very well 70% of the time, compared to just 36% for passive content.”

What’s Your Plan?

These are just a few of the trends marketers are going to see with digital advertising over the coming years. Embracing digital marketing is something that many marketers are going to have to do in order to continue to keep up with the preferences, behaviors, and habits of their consumers.

So the question is, are you ready to get on board?