The pace of change is incredible in our business -- a pace that brings many bold predictions from prognosticators, some of which don’t land.
Here’s a look back at some of the memorable misfires and misinterpretations from 2018, plus a look at how they will continue to play out in 2019.
Extended reality wasn’t a fad. There’s no shortage of AR and VR naysayers out there. But it’s clear that extended reality (XR) is on the rise. User adoption continues to climb annually because formats have evolved to be more functional and useful.
For example, new AR ads allow consumers not only to virtually walk around a piece of furniture, but interact with it and get a better level of detail.
Equally important is that XR tech infrastructure is improving. Apple and Google have launched developer tools that make it easier for brands to build unique experiences. And as 5G comes to market, it’ll be a boon for XR, raising speed and reducing latency. This is critical to helping advertisers hit campaign goals and deliver a better user experience. Widespread rollout of 5G can increase connection speeds by up to 10X and cut latency. This will make XR ads stickier for consumers.
Ecommerce didn’t skip a beat. A handful of well-known retailers saw digital sales plateau in late 2017, but this trend saw a quick reversal in 2018. Ecommerce, especially on mobile, has seen explosive growth. Online holiday sales alone grew nearly 20%. We saw this in the demand for dynamic product ads, shoppable entertainment content, and native ads that helped save coupons to mobile wallets.
The ability to connect digital ads more directly with actual sales through ecommerce capabilities also opens doors for better attribution insights. This will make these ads even more popular in 2019.
Brand safety and ad fraud issues aren’t solved. Every other day, it seems there’s another negative headline about a brand unknowingly placed next to an unsavory piece of content. Similarly, ad fraud continues to be a challenge as bad actors have become more sophisticated, shifting from desktop to mobile.
While vendors and inventory partners are getting better at weeding them out along with bad content -- and initiatives like ads.txt have made great strides -- there is still a lot of work to be done. So, the industry call for brand safety and reducing ad fraud isn’t going away. More than ever, marketers want to protect the billions they’ve invested to build their brand equity on platforms that are safe, fraud-free and premium. Partners and publishers that can deliver that successfully will win in 2019.
GDPR wasn’t a death knell. The EU’s GDPR ruling fundamentally changed the way the ad industry approaches data and compliance -- from consent to visibility and control. This was good for consumers, ushering in a new era of privacy-first protocols.
But it shook some brands, publishers and platforms who saw any decrease in data volume -- especially first-party data -- as a threat to reach and personalization.
On the plus side, GDPR improved quality by boosting opt-ins and put first-party data front and center, which is key to establishing membership, safety and trust with consumers. Ultimately, better data means better ads and higher performance.While the jury is still out on how each of these topics will evolve, exactly, in 2019. it’s clear they are not going away.