The Future of Advertising: Is Your Business Ready?
In Back to the Future II, a holographic shark leaps from an advertisement promoting the fictional movie, Jaws 19. In Minority Report, displays scan the retinas of passersby and deliver ads that shout their names. Now interactive, targeted ads like these are poised to graduate from science fiction to reality.
It’s easy to see why. Estimates for how many ads consumers see on a daily basis range from about 250 to over 3,000. To actually reach a consumer, advertising must cut through the noise and offer a targeted, relevant appeal.
STATIC DISPLAY ADS WILL DISAPPEAR
Think of the last billboard you saw. Can you remember what it said? Of course you can’t. That’s because it’s unlikely that whatever the billboard was touting was relevant to you. That’s likely to change in the near future.
Technologies like ultra-short-throw projectors may soon make old-fashioned billboards and other stationery advertisements obsolete. These projectors can create large displays on almost any flat surface. The displays themselves are live and updatable, a vast improvement over the static images found on billboards and the repetitive ads that cycle across screens in Times Square. This gives advertisers the ability to get their message out without committing to a static image or a costly LED display. For consumers, it means a refreshing change from “Burgers, Next Exit.”
TARGETED ADVERTISING WILL FOLLOW YOU OFFLINE
Consumers are accustomed to targeted ads following them around the web. Look at a sofa on a furniture site, and that sofa – and others like it – will follow you from Facebook to news sites to anywhere else where targeted ads are enabled. Soon, those ads will follow you from the digital world into the real one.
PanelDirector, an interactive advertising system (for use on outdoor signage, etc) from Japan’s NEC Corp, is able to recognize the gender and approximate age of passersby and deliver targeted ads based on that demographic information. Future iterations will feature facial recognition and the ability to understand environmental data like time and location. The result will be ads that know the browsing patterns of consumers and can direct them to relevant shopping or dining locations.
NATIVE ADVERTISING WILL BECOME THE NORM
With DVR, consumers can skip ads. Online video platforms like Hulu serve ads that can be easily muted and ignored. Netflix omits ads altogether. That’s because consumers hate interruptions, especially those that provide no value. That’s why native advertising – ads that provide value to consumers through context and informative or entertaining content – has graduated from being an ad industry buzzword to a reality for major media companies and anyone else looking to actually get consumers to pay attention.
Forbes, Business Insider, and Buzzfeed have all launched internal studios for producing native advertising. Buzzfeed reports that their native advertising content receives an average of 4,241 total social media interactions. It seems that native advertising has solved a problem that’s been around since the origin of advertising: creating ads that consumers actually want to see.
MOBILE GETS REAL
Mobile phone use accounts for 17 percent of global web traffic. For much of the developing world, that number is closer to 25 percent. For advertisers, this means that mobile isn’t just another channel for reaching existing consumers – it’s a way to reach a completely new audience.
Unfortunately, mobile advertising is still in its infancy. The medium still relies largely on easily ignored banner ads and interruptions that infuriate users. However, California-based mobile ad agency AdTile is poised to change that. Rather than creating ads within apps, AdTile’s ads are the apps themselves. These apps provide actual value to the user through powerful, feature-rich apps that also serve relevant ads. It’s a new approach, but one that advertisers should start to emulate as soon as possible.
To see the future of advertising, one need only look to the themes that run through each of these items: context, relevance, and the ability for advertisers to provide legitimate value to consumers.