The 8 Digital Trends That Will Change The Future Of Advertising

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This post about the current and future state of the digital advertising industry is sponsored by Sociomantic.

The digital advertising ecosystem is rapidly evolving these days, as marketers continue to adapt to new platforms, devices, and ad formats.

With all that’s going on, it can sometimes be hard to keep track of new developments.

That’s why we chose to shed some light on seven major trends we’re following right now. We promise, they’re definitely worth keeping an eye on.

More brands are getting into the publishing game.

In 2013, brands like Oreo and Dove won praise for drawing large internet audiences to content they created themselves and shared on social media platforms like YouTube and Twitter.

By doing so, they were able to reach consumers in a place where, if the content is good, brands can have their undivided attention rather than a momentary glance at a banner ad. Dove's parent company, Unilever, is planning to create a lot more of this sort of content in the coming years, according to a a recent report from the digital agency Huge.

Look for more brands to follow suit as they begin to discover the benefits of presenting their message directly to consumers, without interference from traditional media outlets. While creating content that is both relevant to the brand and enticing to consumers is a difficult task, those willing to invest in quality will be rewarded.

Digital video is exploding.

U.S. spending on online video ads increased by 44.5% this past year and will make another big jump in 2014, according to a recent report from digital forecaster eMarketer. In fact, eMarketer predicts U.S. digital video ad spend, which totaled $US4.18 billion in 2013, will grow all the way to $US12.27 billion in 2018.

There are several reasons for eMarketer's bullishness. For starters, wireless networks are becoming fast enough to reliably stream video to mobile devices, making video a more widespread alternative to the much-despised mobile banner ad.

Because these pre-roll video ads can capture more of a viewer's attention than static ad formats, advertisers are willing to pay more than twice as much for them. As a result, publishers from The New York Times to Buzzfeed are investing time, manpower, and money to produce more videos and capitalise on the higher prices.

And so is mobile.

Nearly 30% of all web traffic is coming from smartphones and tablets, according to web tracking firm StatCounter, and as Business Insider's CEO and Editor in Chief Henry Blodget is fond of saying, 'Money follows eyeballs.'

U.S. mobile ad spending more than doubled from 2012 to 2013, and eMarketer predicts strong growth of more than 50% in 2014. While mobile marketers have for years been championing the idea of 'the year of mobile,' it appears their day has finally come.

Ad budgets are being stolen by botnets.

A recent study from Solve Media says that in 2014, advertisers will waste a total of $US11.6 billion on ads seen only by bots programmed to impersonate human traffic. Though the advertising and technology media have paid more attention to the problem in recent months, Solve Media, which gives publishers tools to ensure visitors are human, says fraudulent traffic will continue to be an issue until the entire advertising ecosystem commits to preventing it.

Google is just one of the major players to have made such a commitment, purchasing the anti-click fraud startup Spider.io last month to root out botnets.

'Viewable' ads are becoming the standard.

One of the biggest issues in advertising right now is that about half of all online ads are currently placed where users won't be able to see them. However, independent companies like RealVu and major ad networks like Google offer solutions to help brands and their media buying agencies make sure their ads will be viewable before they buy them. In fact, Google recently started offering ad buyers the opportunity to buy ads only in the places on a page users can see them.

According to a recent survey from the digital advertising company Undertone, 88% of advertisers think viewability will be a big issue in 2014 and 62% plan to work with a third party to help them measure viewable ad impressions.

Twitter, Facebook, and Google are fighting for TV's big ad budgets.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg smiles during a talk at Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2007.

Now that Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have all established themselves as major destinations for advertising dollars, the only way for them to achieve any sort of substantial growth is to start winning ad deals worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Unfortunately for the folks at the major networks, the only platform currently taking in that kind of money is television.

Both Twitter and YouTube have taken substantial steps to woo brands used to buying media on television, with YouTube allowing Nielsen to measure its audiences the way it does television and Twitter allowing brands to capitalise on its real-time chatter with promoted tweets that run at the same time as their TV ads.

Meanwhile, Facebook trumpets that it has a bigger prime-time audience and better measurement tools than television.

Robots are taking over the ad-buying process.

Through the wonders of real-time bidding, media buyers are able to automatically purchase ad inventory in just a fraction of a second.

By using complex formulas to automate the process, publishers and brands are able to find the ideal price for an ad served to a specific person in a specific place.

At this point, just about every major web publisher sells at least part of its inventory programmatically, as opposed to having a sales representative sell ads face-to-face. According to eMarketer, U.S. buyers will spend 29% of their digital display budgets programmatically by 2017, up from 19% this past year.

In theory, any type of media inventory that be bought and sold online could eventually end up programmatic.

TV and online video are becoming one.

One thing we've heard repeatedly from advertising executives is the idea that in the very near future, we will think of video as a singular medium regardless of the screen it's viewed on or how it's delivered.

Devices like Smart TVs, which allow people to watch traditionally desktop-native content from YouTube on their TVs, and TV Everywhere apps like Watch ESPN, which allow people to watch TV content on their computers and phones, have blurred the lines between TV and online video.

This convergence has accelerated recently with Dish and Disney's big rights deal, which paves the way for Dish to one day offer an internet-based, 'over-the-top' streaming content service, and Comcast's acquisition of FreeWheel, the ad tech company that allows brands to buy video ads across platforms.

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