As a paid digital optimization firm we saw 2018 as a year of innovation in the industry. The rapid pace of change with both new and existing players is setting the stage for 2019 to be exciting, dynamic, and fast-paced. There is a lot of change in the air, but here are five big trends that we think will impact most advertisers in 2019:
1. Rise of Amazon
Amazon took steps in 2018 to consolidate their advertising options for retailers, manufacturers, and (most excitingly) for people not selling through Amazon because they are not a fit for the Amazon marketplace. In particular, the launch of a platform-based way to manage Amazon programmatic through “Amazon DSP” will likely ensure the rise of Amazon into the top three advertising networks in 2019. If you divide programmatic providers along data lines, Amazon completes the triumvirate of Google (owning search and web behavioral data), Facebook (owning personal and social engagement data) with a massive player owning the world’s biggest treasure trove of consumer interest and behavior data.
2. Video, video, everywhere
It wasn’t that long ago that when you said “video advertising” it was a solid euphemism for YouTube. Not anymore. Video content is everywhere from Instagram stories, to Facebook feeds to classic display inventory, to Connected TV. Video content is riveting, engaging, unrivalled for storytelling and is emerging as compelling content across digital advertising. Combine that with fast and easy content creation tools and 2019 will likely see a massive increase in video advertising content. If you spent the last few years solving for mobile, the next question is solving for video content creation.
3. Programmatic transparency in display
The land rush of display inventory moving to programmatic exchanges is essentially over with the frontier now booming with virtually all the traditional display ad inventory that exists. As we move into the next phase of maturing programmatic advertising there is a push for increased transparency of the underlying data in the exchanges. While viewability was a key focus in 2018 that will continue in 2019, we are also likely to see dollars shift to exchanges that provide the most data and controls over performance KPIs such as per-user viewthrough information. Some claim that blockchain is the solution, but some DSPs, such as Acuity and Dstillery are already closing these gaps with existing technologies.
4. Rush migration of remaining traditional media to programmatic
While display has almost all moved into the Programmatic mansion, the new rush is with traditional OOT and network Cable/TV inventory. In 2019 expect to see much more traditional TV inventory move into the programmatic exchanges allowing digital marketers to target OOT, Connected TV and maybe direct even more traditional TV inventory. With the explosion of independent content delivery services being announced (Disney, NBC Universal, etc.) expect some of these to explore programmatic advertising as well as subscriptions as alternate revenue models.
5. Embracing of AI tools
In 2019 virtually all digital advertising will utilize Artificial Intelligence tools for ad placement and delivery. This is not a bold prediction, but a reality check reflecting the state of digital at the end of 2018. Whether it is Google’s ad-serving algorithms, the proliferation of Lookalike audience building, or conversion-based bidding algorithms, the face of digital is AI. Marketers need to be looking for ways to test, adapt, and restructure best practices to take advantage of the new world of AI-driven marketing as well as to proactively look for ways to push the use of AI-based tools in new directions. AI is no longer what is coming, it’s here.
It is impossible to make a short list like this without missing big trends (Podcasts? The death of Snapchat? Facebook Search Advertising?). By distilling this to a Top Five we think we’ve identified large trends that are so far advanced already that they cannot help but influence digital marketing in 2019. Have a different idea? Let us know!