It’s been a rocky couple of years. Increasing political polarisation, major data breaches, the spread of fake news, trust in advertising at an all time low and an emerging unease about the behaviour of big tech. Brand owners have demanded reform of the ad ecosystem, publishers are still looking for reliable revenue and consumers are ever more aware of inappropriate practices in their digital lives.
At Unruly, we aspire to changing advertising for the better, and we believe it’s time for the return of respect. Treating people as individuals, not stereotypes; embracing the complex role of emotions in decision making; the belief in a better experience for customers, supporting premium publishers keeping our internet vibrant and protecting the hard-won and vulnerable reputations of brands.
Here are five industry trends for 2019 I think are worthy of your consideration:
1. The value of data dawns on people
In a post GDPR, post Cambridge Analytica world, people have started to wake up to the value of their personal data. Initiatives such as Datawallet have already been established, promising to pay consumers in exchange for their data, while Good-Loop gives 50% of the advertiser’s budget to the charity of the viewer’s choice. The IAB has just published its playbook for opt-In value exchange ads and 90% of marketers surveyed by OpenX agreed that video with permission generates stronger engagement metrics for ads compared with other formats. In 2019, we could see consumers taking a more active role - rating video ads for effectiveness or enjoyment in exchange for incentives. Or perhaps tipping the publisher to fund quality journalism from within an ad unit.
2. Goodbye fluffy, hello impact
2019 will be the year that smart buyers will realise that emotional considerations are not just nice to have - they’re actually the deepest driver of human behaviour. The signs are that this will be the year that groundbreaking academic research will finally link specific emotional responses to business outcomes. From long-term effects (such as profitability) to short term goals (immediate sales activation), brands could have clearer guidance than ever to create and optimise content that drives behaviour directly in line with desired outcome.
3. Pay your respects
Subscriptions models are growing - and it’s putting publishers in the driving seat. The Guardian recently announced that over a million people support the brand financially. Premium news brands get 70% of their revenue from recurring revenue, and subscription models will account for over half of internet and media growth (source: Activate Forecast). This matters because publishers are one of the few entities in a post GDPR world with access to true first party data.
The value exchange for great content is becoming clearer, and consumers are more frequently willing to pay for quality. This presents a massive opportunity for publishers to not only provide unique content for these audiences, but also to provide them with better, much lighter advertising experiences. From emotive creatives which are stamped with quality approval to more relevant ads. This will be the year that subscribers start getting access to better ad experiences.
4. Shopping goes straight to video
People love videos and they love shopping. When they can watch to find out more *and* buy right from the ad, it’s a match made in heaven. US studies show that 80% of millennials refer to video when making purchase decisions, so the value of shoppable video is compelling. For agencies and brands, it will evolve KPIs and it will take a while for these to settle down - but it seems clear that direct purchase from shoppable videos will be the new CTR. Audiences will get to experience a wider range of interactive ads, and advertisers will need to rapidly get up to speed with what’s useful and what works.
5. The discovery channels
How people find what they're looking for is changing. The well-understood acquisition route of search marketing is expected to decline as retailers insert themselves rudely into the process - and voice services change the journey entirely. Established brands face unprecedented competitive threats from fresh-faced d2c brands and e-commerce giants alike. Increasingly-trusted recommendation engines, powered by AI, will hijack consumer decision moments and product purchase options will become heavily guided.
As Google and Amazon grow in power and influence, ‘brand bypass’ will set in, making it harder than ever for advertisers to grow their market share by engaging light buyers. The future could look bleak. But for advertisers there is hope. And it’s nothing new. They need to go back to brand basics. The only line of defence against channel disintermediation is to work hard to stay relevant. That means building brand affinity and loyalty through an emotional connection delivered by great product experiences and showcased through powerful communications that move people.