Future Trends in Advertising
Advertising has been around since the dawn of human commerce and trade. It has taken on many forms and has evolved with the evolution of civilization.
Smartphones and mobile broadband (4G, 5G and beyond) have changed the economic landscape forever. Retail and commerce, in general, is almost moving entirely online, so the importance of digital marketing is becoming more important than traditional marketing. Understanding future trends in advertising allow us to be ahead of the curve in reaching customers in new ways.
Three technologies and trends that will be discussed here are Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), Social Media and Content Marketing, and finally Big Data and Smart Billboards.
An Augmented and Virtualized Reality
Smartphones are getting smarter, and Mobile Broadband is getting faster. The continuous evolution of both is providing new and novel ways for advertisers. For example, enhanced processing power and higher resolution screens are allowing companies to augment reality on the phones, by placing moving (or still) images that are shown on the phone but are not there.
According to Crook (2015), “Blippar, an augmented reality ad platform that uses real-world tags to deliver extra AR content in offline situations, has raised $45 million in new funding from undisclosed investors” (Crook, Paragraph 1). In essence, Blippar allows an advertiser to use a “blip,” a sort of marker on their platform. A user would use his/her camera and point it an object, while Blippar would show conversations around that object and extra information (Crook, 2015).
Other AR apps slowly utilizing ads, is a map/navigation app called Waze. Waze was bought by Google in 2013 for $1.1 billion, and it has grown more in popularity since (Lunden, 2013). Advertisers can put the location of their stores on the map, and also have deals pop up when users are in the vicinity.
Finally, according to Martin (2017), Wireless Operators can begin to make revenue from AR revenue from advertisers. Since more videos will be watched on people’s smartphones, and the trend for operators to give unlimited data, someone has to pay for all that bandwidth. AR allows for more revenues to be extracted from advertisers (Martin, 2017).
Social Media and Content Marketing
As previously mentioned, a lot of retail and commerce is moving online. For companies that want to take advantage of this trend the correct way, they must have a content marketing plan that can be shared through their social media accounts, then their site(s) can be indexed and ranked by the search engines. Once ranked by search engines, web users and potential customers (in the form of Internet traffic) will be directed to their websites, increasing brand awareness and sales.
According to Neff (2015), “Content sometimes seems to have taken over marketing, to the point that it’s surprisingly hard to define or distinguish from many other activities. It arguably encompasses not just branded entertainment and native advertising but in various ways, social media, search ads, events, product placement, digital video and much more. In fact, you could make the case that all advertising is content, and vice versa” (Neff, Paragraph 2).
This Content Marketing trend is going to continue to grow into the future. According to Neff (2015), 90% of companies have plans to increase their content marketing budgets, with half of them committing to increase them by 20%. Content Marketing must be used in conjunction with Social Media, because having more links to content, makes the content look more credible to search engines. Social Media allows for the dissemination of content through clicks, likes, and sharing with others.
A company named Shareablee tracks the content created and posted by the top 100,000 brands on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They saw an increase of 17% in posts and a 30% growth in user interaction. So, the trend for creating and sharing content is growing, and users are liking it (Neff, 2015).
Big Data and Smart Billboards
Big data is the collection of data on all online activities. All these massive amounts of data are called Big Data. Sifting through and analyzing this data efficiently is a challenge, but strides are being made.
According to Grether (2016), “The big promise of big data to advertising is improved accuracy of communication. Advertising is expected to become more relevant and less expensive as a result of less wastage” (Grether, Paragraph 3). But it is evident that there is still much work to be done with harnesses the power of big data.
One technology that will be using Big Data collected on all of us is Smart Billboards. Although they have not been released yet, there has been a patent submitted by researchers in Palo Alto, CA. According to Patents (2016), “Real-time information is received for each of the electronic public advertising displays about a target audience that includes a plurality of people in a position to substantially simultaneously view the corresponding electronic public advertising display” (Patents, Paragraph 5).
These Smart Billboards will most probably use the information collected and stored on our Smartphones. Recently, Congress allowed telecom operators to legally share the information they collect from us with advertisers, which supports a business model around these Smart Billboards (Olmstead, 2017).
Cooler Minds Must Prevail
The advancement in technology is usually first used and backed by advertisers. This must be because new experiences catch people’s attention, and that is exactly what an advertiser wants. Technologies such as AR/VR are being utilized to increase brand awareness in a new way, while social media and content marketing drive traffic to their sites. Companies like Blippar actually combine both so that users can see the information about products in a novel way. Big Data is a challenge (for now), but the trend to use it in Smart Billboards and other applications to target us even better is a reality just around the corner.
Looking 10 years into the future, 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT) will be a reality. Which means everything will be connected to this ultra-fast wireless network. Devices, big and small will be aware and smart, sensing and collecting our every move in the physical and virtual world. Advertising messages will be more directed and personalized in the future and will be integrated within our environment using holograms.
Ethically, this does pose a privacy concern. Humans are a far cry from their origins in nature, which gave us all the inalienable freedoms that were written into the Constitution of the United States. The encroachment of corporations into every facet of our lives is being used to extract as much wealth as possible from humanity, but that subject is beyond the scope of this post. However, let’s hope cooler minds prevail and that the future has legislation that will protect our rights and privacy.