The internet has changed. Advertisers now compete for your attention in ways you wouldn’t even believe possible. Every time you logon and surf the internet, you are being tracked, targeted, silo’ed and profiled. They are all attempting to capture your most scarce resource…Your attention!

Ads, sponsored stories, apps, news feeds, videos and notifications are designed to command attention every time you look at a screen. Those cool likes, emojis and shares are actually tiny dopamine hits disguised as engagement and almost every “free” app or platform depends on these little hits for their revenue. They are unconsciously turning your eyeballs into data points and advertising revenue.

We are getting increasingly resistant to advertising and we hate bad advertising… We have started to realize that our time is valuable. In fact, the cost of getting a consumer’s attention has increased by 700% in the last 2 decades in the US alone. We are not that far away from a world where consumers start charging brands for their attention… It’s around the corner. The next Zuckerberg is working on this technology right now!

Ok, so Facebook is “free”, but we pay for it via our free time that we spend on it and which they in turn monetize by selling ads to advertisers. Our time generated $40bn in ad revenue in 2017 for Facebook.

Here are the TOP 10 TRENDS that I believe are shaping internet advertising today.

  1. Half Your Marketing Budget Is Wasted!

John Wanamaker was a very successful United States merchant, religious leader and political figure and considered by some to be a pioneer in marketing. He famously said,“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is I don’t know which half…” Let’s update this famous quote so that it’s relevant for today… “The majority of money spent on advertising is wasted.”

I think that the sheer number of marketing channels and competing messages reaching the average individual on a daily basis nowadays forces the individual to become immune to traditional marketing techniques and that the vast majority of marketing budget is indeed wasted. Think about the ad. Is the offer strong? Is the message clear? Is it a good design, layout, concept? Would a consumer think it’s a good ad?

If you can afford to do advertising that’s purely for brand awareness purposes and where it doesn’t have to deliver R.O.I. then that’s fine… Some brands can afford this luxury. Most smaller brands can’t. Please think twice about booking that crappy half-page ad that has zero mechanism to link it to sales performance. If you have to do print advertising then at least link a unique landing page to the ad so you can track performance of the ad.

  1. Advertising Networks

Advertising networks are networks of publisher sites and if you land on their internet real estate they will cookie your IP address and then they track what you look at and what you engage with. I know an ad network has defined more than 50,000 unique topics that they place you into based on your web behavior. This is so they can create contextual, behavioral targeting which they sell onto advertisers. The unique topics are then split into themes. i.e. DIY, Outdoor lifestyle, buying a new home etc. Ad networks also get spare unsold inventory on the publisher sites which they can use for doing Cost Per Lead (CPL) advertising.

  1. Remarketing (Retargeting)

Remarketing is a clever way to connect with visitors to your website who may not have made an immediate purchase or enquiry. It allows you to position targeted ads in front of a defined audience that had previously visited your website – as they browse elsewhere around the internet. It uses a cookie. You can set the cookie to remarket for a defined length of time. i.e. 30 days and you can also set the ad frequency cap. i.e. show only 2 ads per day or 10 ads in total.

Remarketing has proven to be a very powerful technique as there was originally interest or intent. It’s specifically good for e-commerce and travel niches.

  1. Google Ads vs. Facebook Ads

In 2017, Google and Facebook owned 63% of the US digital advertising market and 54% of digital ad revenue worldwide. Microsoft was a distant 3rd place with a mere 4% of the total U.S. revenue share. All signs point to continued dominance of “the big two” for the foreseeable future but keep an eye on Amazon who’re entering the market. Take advantage of this by advertising cross-channel.

  1. Ad Targeting

Certain ad suites now give us digital marketers the tools to effectively target ads with a fair degree of accuracy. Campaigns need greater personalization and we need to map relevant ad campaigns to audience needs. Facebook ads allows one to really narrow in on these audiences like never before but it’s not 100% accurate.

  1. Voice Search

Amazon has sold over 20 million Echo units and Google Home is hot on its heels. Voice search will grow as innovative technologies like smart hubs and visual search grow. For example, Google Lens or Pinterest Lens will allow you to take a picture of a product and it will automatically search for the same product online.

  1. Chatbots

Chatbots are automated customer service “agents” that help brands offer stream-lined, individualized service through chat. Facebook Messenger introduced chatbot technology earlier this year and already 18,000 bots have been produced by brands to help customers with their inquiries. A chatbot’s capability ranges from assisting you with a travel booking, booking a table or ordering a service. It’s still early days for chatbot technology.

  1. VR ads

VR is growing fast and as the technology develops and its impact grows we will see the VR space being monetized by in-VR ads. Facebook has just launched the Oculus Go VR set which is set to change the game. Plan on viewing the Zeitz Mocca Museum via your new Oculus VR headset? Then expect to see sponsors ads coming at you.

  1. Video Killed The Radio Star

Video is expected to represent 80% of all internet traffic by 2019 and recent research indicates that 64% of users are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video. Leading the video ads trend is You Tube with their TrueView product that offers 93% ad view-ability, plus you only pay when a viewer watches 30 seconds of your ad. Keep an eye on Instagram as they evolve their video offering.

  1. Ad Blockers

Recent research indicates that over a quarter of US internet users would block ads in 2018, up from just under 16% in 2014. Plus people are much more likely to leave your site if you ask them to disable ad blockers. Ad blockers will continue to pose a significant threat to ad-funded business models due to their rising popularity with users globally. Get around ad blockers by focusing on delivering positive user experiences so that users won’t be prompted to block your ads in the first place.

That’s just a few of the trends shaping internet advertising right now. If you enjoyed this article please share it. Thanks ;)

About the Author

Fraser Black is NineFiftyNine’s MD and Founder. When he’s not riding his Ducati he’s a classically-trained, “hybrid” agency-side marketer with more than 20 years’ experience derived from big ATL agencies (Ogilvy & JWT) as well as establishing his own respected London digital & branding agency (Firedog). Fraser boasts a complete marketing skill-set and has been providing digital marketing solutions for clients since 2001.