What Does the Future of Paid Advertising Look Like?


Advertising in general has undergone rapid change in our lifetime alone: from traditional print ads to digital, and from desktop-only to a range of devices. At this point, online users are accustomed to seeing ad placements; it’s a saturated market and brands are interested in investing in prime on-screen real estate.

But what does the future of paid advertising really look like? Unsurprisingly, things are trending toward mobile prevalence and targeted content. Let’s take a closer look at advertising trends.

The Rise of Mobile Campaigns

In the U.S., users spend approximately 71 percent of their total digital minutes on their mobile device. Increasingly, consumers are reaching for their phones over sitting down in front of a laptop or desktop computer. Knowing this, savvy marketers are tailoring their paid advertising campaigns to target mobile hotspots: apps, social media platforms and mobile web browsers. Likewise, ad spend is increasing more quickly for mobile marketing than desktop.

Beyond Banner Ads

Even the nature of mobile advertising itself is changing. While banner ads sprawling across the top or bottom of the screen used to be the go-to format, many marketers are now focusing on native ads—or those that match their environment, often resembling editorial content. Research shows that consumers interact with native ads more than run-of-the-mill banner ads: 20 to 60 percent more, in fact.

That’s not to say that banner ads are completely obsolete, but that there are more options for mobile advertising now than in previous years, and that consumers seem to “tune out” overt banner ads.

Personalized and Programmatic

Generic advertisements are even easier for online users to ignore. The solution? Marketers are turning toward personalized and programmatic ads to better target users who are likely to engage with their content. What is programmatic advertising? Let’s say you’re marketing a new gaming app. Your goal is to attract engaged users to said app—that is, people who will do more than download it once and forget about it.

Programmatic advertising allows for the automated brokerage of ad space in real-time auctions. It removes the clunky human element and also the need to buy large blocks of space ahead of time to display ads. The results are improved efficiency and effectiveness.

It also allows for more targeted ads—marketers can use detailed demographic, locational and device information to make sure their ads are appealing to people who match the profile of engaged users. Suddenly you’re not taking shots in the dark hoping to attract a wide audience to your app-based game; you’re able to automatically serve completed ad templates to people who match your proven target audience. It’s no wonder this concept has revolutionized how mobile marketers think about creating and disseminating ads online.

Integrated into the Internet of Things

And, of course, mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are not the only devices relevant to advertisers. According to IBM, the Internet of Things (IoT), a network of web-enabled devices from appliances to wearables, “could enable companies to understand how individual customers interact with them in real time. That means finding out what they buy, when they buy it and where they buy it — and consequently what incentives might be most appreciated.”

In other words, just like marketers can tap into users’ habits when it comes to phone and tablet use to personalize advertisements and choose the right medium and time to advertise to them, the IoT is poised to give brands even more insight into the lives of users. Various IoT-connected devices will expand how and where marketers can reach their target audience; they may also relay key data about users’ habits, schedules and preferences for an increasingly tailored experience.

It’s clear that the future of paid advertising is favouring mobile use, programmatic ad buying, personalized ad content and increased interconnectivity.