In 2018, businesses and brands were again faced with rapidly changing consumer trends in digital display media—and were repeatedly challenged to adjust their tools and technology just as fast.
From chatbots to voice search, this past year we saw a pattern in the way consumers interact with businesses. We also saw a pattern in the way that consumers stopped interacting with businesses due to the unethical use of personal information (we all know who, but if you don’t—refer to the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal).
Because of the pace at which our industry continues to evolve and anticipate changing consumer behavior, there are a few key trends we want to address for the upcoming year. Here are our three most important developments coming to digital media in 2019.
The continuing rise of programmatic ad buying
Yes, this is said every year, and yes, it is increasing. But at what rate? Well, here it is: eMarketer predicts that 86.22% of all digital display ads will be bought via automated channels by 2020.
Programmatic ad buying—using digital advertising software to purchase ads mostly through auctions—is on the rise because of a shift in media consumption. At a time where everything is only a click away, marketers must find effective ways to capture the shorter attention spans of modern consumers. They have to be efficient while also personalizing their messaging.
With the vast array of data available, programmatic buying not only allows us to consolidate data from a variety of different sources but also gives us the ability to understand the consumer journey across multiple devices, which helps shape marketing strategies. Marketers should use these data-driven insights to personalize content to the right consumer to eliminate wasted dollars on inefficient media channels and uninterested audiences.
Because programmatic is usually done in real-time in conjunction with smart bidding, we are now able to intelligently automate ad exchanges, conduct A/B testing, and dynamically alter messaging to align with user behavior within a matter of milliseconds. It is, as a result, an impressively efficient form of media buying.
A new era for TV ads
Although it’s a challenging channel for advertisers due to its lack of personalization, smaller scale, and fragmented identity, digital TV advertising is expected to grow within the next few years to mirror the rising popularity of streaming services and long-form video consumption on social media platforms. In fact, this year the Interactive Advertising Bureau found that 44% of live streaming video viewers worldwide said they watch less TV “as a result of live streaming”.
But don’t toll the bell for TV just yet—it’s not being replaced! Instead, smart TVs and connected TV devices are making it easier for viewers to watch both live TV and programming on demand. Netflix and other streaming services continue to grow their subscriber bases as cord cutters say goodbye to conventional cable TV packages. Social media giants are also getting in on the act, offering TV-like content in the form of Instagram Live, Facebook Watch, and more.
So marketers have to realize that audiences now have more control than ever to choose the type of content they decide to watch across a growing variety of platforms and devices. Yes, more consumers are shifting to streaming services, consuming more content online, and opting into buying bundle packages as opposed to basic cable—but this just goes to show that ads need to be more relevant to capture the attention of consumers. After all, they are watching at a time that is most convenient for them, so they will likely not want to be interrupted!
A picture is worth a thousand words in visual search
Visual search—using an image as a query as opposed to text—has grown in popularity over the past few years. But that’s not all: the recognition technology that powers it has also become much more sophisticated in the same timeframe.
Because visual search is most effective for questions that are otherwise difficult to express through text (such as “Where can I buy this jacket?”), marketers should bear it in mind when integrating rich media into their content strategies.
A growing number of platforms, including Pinterest, Google, eBay, and Amazon, are starting to experiment with visual search, with Pinterest reporting that it had 600 million monthly visual searches on its platform in February 2018, up from 250 million a year earlier.
Of course, visual search is still evolving. But because it serves a distinct function, it is something forward-thinking marketers should consider—especially in retail, where a visual search tool could become an important differentiator as visual search grows in popularity.
Get ahead of the game
There are other trends shaping the future of digital media, from AI to voice search and personalization. But we expect programmatic, TV, and visual search to be 2019’s most important evolutions for marketers who want to get in front of changing consumer behaviors and align their online and offline strategies.
The next year will be a game-changer, so lace up your sneakers now if you want to keep up with the fast-paced changes ahead. And if you need a little coaching to navigate the digital display landscape—or a total digital transformation—we’re ready to help. Let’s talk.