Let’s face it, industry-wide transformation is no novel feat for a sector known to constantly reinvent itself in the face of technological innovation. We take a look at the ad tech trends of the future.
The ad tech industry, and those that lead it, are continually looking at how to better run, measure and manage campaigns in new ways. While the idea of voice-activated advertising through smart assistants may seem nascent, it's worth recalling that there was a time that the notion of geo-targeted mobile ads would suffice as a Bradbury-esque science fiction novel.
So, what are some of the emerging or existing tech trends that could steer the course of advertising? We investigate.
Voice Search Optimisation
Voice-activated devices, such as Google home and Amazon Alexa, have changed the way consumers search for information online. With a growing paradigm shift from typing to talking, 27% of the global population and counting, optimising for voice search will be a growing priority for advertisers.
The complexity for advertisers lies not just in adapting keywords into more conversational phrases that mirror natural speech but also in harnessing ad tech platforms that allow for real-time bidding specifically for voice search results. Tools like voice-activated DSPs are in development to automate the purchase of voice search ad inventory, facilitating highly targeted advertising. Effective optimisation for voice search requires a multifaceted approach: utilising long-tail, conversational keywords to capture the natural language patterns of voice queries; creating content designed to answer specific questions consumers are asking; and refining metadata and local SEO to improve visibility in voice search results. The integration of these tactics can substantially increase user engagement, evidenced by a study from Backlinko which states that voice search results have a 2.68% higher click-through rate compared to traditional search.
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
In an attempt to appeal to younger generations and reinvent in the face of tech-driven marketing strategies, the ad tech sector is seeing the increased adoption of AR and VR. An interactive way to storytell that can differentiate advertisers in a saturated marketplace populated by ad fatigue and banner blindness, moving efforts away from direct response marketing into brand awareness through VR and AR could be just as effective.
Cutting-edge ad tech solutions now enable the integration of AR and VR into existing advertising ecosystems, allowing for highly interactive and personalised consumer experiences that go far beyond traditional 2D digital displays. Innovations in programmatic advertising have expanded to accommodate AR and VR, with new platforms offering real-time bidding specifically tailored for these interactive 3D environments. This advancement provides advertisers the capability to serve dynamic, contextually relevant ads based on user interaction within the virtual or augmented space. Additionally, the rise of spatial computing is making it easier for ad tech platforms to incorporate elements like gesture recognition and eye tracking, offering even deeper levels of engagement and personalisation.
The digital advertising ecosystem, encompassing DSPs, SSPs, ad servers, data management platforms, and more, facilitates potentially billions of daily transactions involving millions of dollars. However, hefty fees to intermediaries take a significant chunk out of marketing budgets, and issues pertaining to lack of transparency and ad fraud persist - according to digital ad fraud statistics from the Association of National Advertisers, the cost of digital ad fraud is a momentous $120bn (~£97.7bn) annually. Blockchain technology offers promising solutions to these challenges.
Its decentralised architecture offers unparalleled transparency by recording every transaction on a publicly-accessible ledger that is secure and resistant to tampering. This level of transparency has the potential to drastically reduce the incidence of fraud, increasing trust among advertisers, publishers, and consumers in programmatic transactions. Smart contracts, built on blockchain platforms, are automating a wide array of operations, from initiating real-time bidding protocols to finalsing direct deals between advertisers and publishers. This automation is cutting down the reliance on middlemen, which not only reduces fees but also speeds up transaction times.
As issues of data privacy and consent continue to dominate discussions in ad tech, blockchain can offer a secure, immutable framework for storing consumer data and preferences. Moreover, pilot projects and consortiums, such as AdLedger, are already in place exploring blockchain's applicability in verifying the authenticity of ad inventory and ensuring the quality of audience data. As blockchain technology continues to mature and gain acceptance, it could very well be set to become a crucial part of ad tech transactions.
There is an important distinction to be drawn within the realm of personalised ads - hyper-personalisation does not have to mean hyper-targeted, which can feel intrusive to say the least. That being said however, research has shown that most people don’t like ads that they deem to be irrelevant, and in the domain of advertising technology, personalisation and hyper-personalisation are quickly transitioning from added features to essential components of successful campaigns. AI is poised to play a pivotal, and growing, role in the future of hyper-personalisation within the advertising technology sector. At its core, AI's strength lies in its ability to analyse large sets of complex data at scale to uncover patterns, preferences, and behaviours that are often imperceptible to human analysis. Machine learning algorithms can sift through multitudes of real-time and historical data, such as browsing histories, purchase behaviours, and interactions with digital touchpoints. This enables ad tech platforms to create highly detailed profiles of individual consumers, thereby facilitating the delivery of ads that are tailored not just to broad segments but to individual users. Beyond mere customisation based on age or geographical location, AI-powered hyper-personalisation can delve into more intricate user behaviours and preferences, offering tailored content, recommendations, and even dynamically changing ad formats based on the individual's interaction history.
Significant advancements are already being made with hyper-personalisation within AI-driven curation. Curation offers an extensive range of targeting capabilities, from consumer segmentation to interest-based targeting. For example, advertisers can now choose curated inventory packages that align with their brand values, like sustainability or diversity, enabling a closer synergy between media buyers and publishers. As the industry evolves, publishers and curators are set to continually innovate their curated offerings, providing an opportunity for advertisers to diversify and creatively expand their targeting strategies. In this evolving landscape, hyper-personalisation will not only be about tailoring messages but also about selectively choosing the platforms and inventory that reflect a brand's ethos, adding another layer of nuance to ad targeting.
The Road Ahead for Ad Tech Evolution
As we steer towards an increasingly digitised and interconnected future, the ad tech industry is at a pivotal juncture. The convergence of technologies like blockchain, AI, and VR/AR, along with evolving strategies like hyper-personalisation underscores a dynamic shift in how advertising is conceived, executed, and analysed. This ever-changing landscape necessitates that advertisers, media buyers, and publishers remain agile, constantly adapting to emerging technologies and consumer behaviours. By staying informed and open to adaptation, stakeholders in the ad tech ecosystem can not only navigate the complexities of today but also set the stage for a more transparent, efficient, and personalised advertising landscape in the future.