Advertising Digital Publishing
4 mins read

Opinion: 10 digital advertising trends to look for in 2019

In the first half of 2018, advertisers spent $49.5 billion on digital ads. IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg declared that this record “cements digital advertising…as one of the most powerful mechanisms of all time for brands to build relationships with consumers.” 

New technologies and new ways to use them are the hottest topics in the industry year-round. Distinguishing between fad and trend, however, is crucial. There are several digital advertising trends that are more than fleeting ideas; these ten trends are on the rise and here to stay in 2019 and beyond:

1. Expect to Sell Audiences, Not Ads

“People are buying audiences, not space,” said Tiffany Kelly, a Digital Deployment Consultant at Lineup Systems. The industry is now moving toward a people-based approach which gives us the ability to target real people linked across multiple devices using registered user data such as an email address or social registration data.

The difference is in knowing if you’re targeting an 18-35-year-old female who lives in Dallas versus a 37-year-old female who lives in Dallas, is married with 2 children, is loyal to Starbucks and loves The History Channel. Which would you choose?

Advertisers aren’t interested in ads, they’re interested in audiences. The ability to sell campaigns that reach specific groups is crucial for publishers that want to stay ahead. Providing quality over quantity allows publishers to charge a premium, and programmatic technology (see below) makes it easier than ever to offer such campaigns to brands.

2. Programmatic is the New Traditional

“Gone are the days of simply opening an under-performing campaign and removing the frequency cap in order to reach an impression goal and expecting advertisers to be satisfied with the results. Advertisers truly want quality over quantity, they want transparency, they want fully trackable return on ad spend – and they are willing to pay much more for it,” explains Kelly.

Enter programmatic advertising. Unsurprisingly, programmatic took a hit earlier this year when the full force of the EU’s GDPR regulation went into effect. But it didn’t take long to recover ground and continue growing. In 2019, 65% of digital media will be programmatic. As companies overcome GDPR confusion in 2019 and beyond, one thing is clear: programmatic is the new traditional.

3. The Normality of Voice Search

With the aid of AI, voice search has shifted from a gimmick few of us actually used (think Siri, circa 2011) to enormously useful tech that is in virtually every new car or connected home. The implications for search advertising are especially strong, as voice searches are more conversational, more longtail, and most often on-the-go.

“Consumers are being trained by the likes of Amazon and Apple to simply shout out their needs and expect expedited local solutions to accommodate them,” said SEO Expert’s Bradley Shaw. Voice search is quickly becoming the new normal – it already accounts for nearly half of all searches and is the preferred search method for Generation Z. A recent survey revealed that 60% of adults ages 35-44 planned to use voice search to research or purchase products during the 2018 holiday season. Advertisers and publishers are taking notice; audio isn’t just a radio game any longer.

While the implications of voice search have most often been discussed in terms of Search Engine Optimization and paid search campaigns, publishers are just starting to realize the potential for native advertising activated by voice. Expect to see more creative uses in play in 2019.

4. Subscription Models

A subscription model isn’t just a new source of revenue, it’s the ultimate opt-in. Some have speculated that’s one reason publishers are evolving toward subscription models – to avoid fretting about GDPR and other data privacy regulations. Not all subscription-based publications will rely on member dollars as their main revenue source, but instead enjoy clean audience data – and charge a premium for it.  

While more publishers are moving content behind the paywall, brands are getting creative, offering exclusive deals or vouchers to readers. David Mulrenan, head of investment at Zenith, told WARC, “This isn’t traditional advertising, but it is advertising [nonetheless].”

It should be no surprise that publishers are likely to continue adopting subscription models in 2019 and beyond. But we shouldn’t assume they are likely to abandon advertising along the way.

5. Mobile-First World: 5G

Why include 5G in our list of trends? Scott Singer told Digiday: “5G is the tech that’s going to make all the new tech that everyone is talking about happen. AR, VR, AI, Internet of Things, including driverless cars, all those things need incredible data speed to actually happen on a public network.”

The advertising possibilities that come from these new technologies breaking into the mainstream are endless, but the biggest impact in 2019 will be simple: speed. In the 2016 Interactive Advertising Bureau study “Who Blocks Ads, Why, and How to Win Them Back,” respondents’ top reason for using an adblocker on both desktop and mobile devices was that advertisements slowed down browsing. According to the FCC, 5G is 1,000 times faster than 4G with 100 times less latency.

Speed is expected to not only lower the rate of users who activate ad blockers, but also increase efficiency of programmatic, lower entry barriers to AI and AR, and stabilize complex data retrieval. When tech evolves, advertising evolves. Look for it in 2019.

To download the remainder of the report, please click here: 10 Digital Advertising Trends to Look for in 2019

Contributors: Tiffany Kelly, Lisa Levine and Sarah Hartland, Lineup Systems