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From the strives the world has made towards digital, there’s no sign we’ll be going back anytime soon. Since the dawn of the millennium in 2000, advertising dramatically switched from being predominantly personal and ‘alive’ to more digital and virtual: a change that is irreversible in our fast-paced digital world. Although the future of paid advertising online will most definitely be digital, the forms in which such digital advertising will exist will be completely different to the current mainstream forms of digital advertising in the present day.

With popular current forms of paid advertising online including search ads, video ads, app ads and display ads, a breakthrough in a different type of advertising may be a shock to the current system of ads that we expect. With digital advertising currently positioned at an arm’s length from a targeted user, ensuring we can find privacy from ads in our life, we’re able to disconnect from ads in a unique way that may not be possible in the future. The introduction of remarketing and retargeting that brought the ability for ads to follow us website to website, device to device was the first small step in enabling the ‘following of ads’ away from our screens – where digital ads currently have their base. 2018 and future years could bring many changes, but the first is the introduction of voice ads.

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Voice Ads

As voice assistances increase in popularity and their devices dominate homes across the world, these smart devices won’t be left alone from the impending presence of ads that as currently, covers the internet as we know it. Introducing VoiceLabs: a company that Amazon has recently partnered with to bring about a platform called Sponsored Messages that will see users of Amazon’s Echo voice assistance hear ads within their downloaded skills such as music streaming and news updates. It is suggested that this partnership could be an opportunity to see if ads can be incorporated into other Amazon default skills in the future – with such working even more effectively on smart voice assistants that include a screen, such as Echo Show.

Implementing ads before or as answers to users voice queries may be something that will need to be worked on, as it could hinder the voice assistants effectiveness if it was pushing advertisements over the genuine use of the hardware. However, a study by Invoca – the call tracking and analytics firm may just provide some useful data for when looking for the best method of advertising in the voice-based world. When looking into the conditions under which US voice-enabled device owners would be willing to listen to ads via their devices, Invoca found that 30% of individuals would prefer to be asked whether they want to hear the ad before it plays, 28% said that they’d be willing if they got to choose the brands from which they hear ads, 25% said it would be fine if the ads were personalised based on their commands or questions that they ask often, 23% if the ads are connected to brands they “like” on social media and 18% if ads were embedded into answers that the assistant provides.

End of the screen

Whilst the days of sitting in front of a screen aren’t as prevalent as it was at the turn of the millennium, many of us still take a screen around with us in the form of a smart device. These smartphones of which allow us to call people, play games and watch films have over the years got smaller and smaller, to a size that is now of average for many of the mobile devices on the market. With yearly advances in handheld devices, companies are already looking to the future beyond the ‘screen’ with smartwatches and even glasses that can provide information to the end user. Unlike devices with a screen, smartglasses would see information fed and placed directly in front of your eye, forcing companies to be a bit more creative when it comes to ads than covering your vision with an advertisement. Gestures such as patterned blinking and swipes may be the future when it comes to interacting with these type of ads online.

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Custom, tailored advertising

The future will put power to the people when it comes to the sort of advertisements they’ll see online, offering a kind of advertising that’ll be more custom and relevant to the consumer than ever before. The relevance of ads is a funny thing as of present: some of us find the bulk of advertisements we receive irrelevant and uninteresting, whereas others feel their ads are just a bit too relevant. For those in the former category, the future is set to provide a bit more of a shock to you – as advertising in the future is looking to be 100% relevant to you, using your emotions as a litmus test to continuously tailor the messages that you’ll receive. Everything from the way your mind thinks, your thoughts and feelings will be used to provide you with the perfect ad message – thanks to neural networks, deep learning and a form of technology that’ll know more about you than you know about yourself.

Ads delivered to you at your best time, not your worst time, in the format you’re most likely to interact and engage with them – an advertisers dream.

Advertising will be less about crafting the individual words and images, and more about crafting the systems and algorithms that create the words and imagesDoug Ryan, President of DigitasLBi North America

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Interaction with ads

The future of paid advertising is likely to see interactive ads become ever so more interactive than they were before, with advertisers hoping to use engagement on the ads as another factor to see whether a user enjoys the possibilities that their product or service may just entail. Interactive ads are already becoming the near-norm on mobile applications, with users offered the chance to partake in demos of an app from within another application, but interaction ads of another kind are what is set to change the future of paid advertising online forever. Future implementations in the world of digital advertising are likely to see a push towards virtual reality that’ll work to bring aspects of an ad to life, augmented reality and 360 experiences that’ll work to immerse a user into a campaign. User interaction will be key to lead a story or the setting of a digital ad. A similar example to the type of interactive experience we’re likely to see with ads can be seen with British Councils “Mix The Body” which allows a user to use their mouse to draw the dance moves of which they’d like to see the human actors follow.

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Ad blocking everywhere.. except there! and there!

Whether you use an already integrated ad blocker or an ad block software you personally installed, a strong majority of web users tend to use adblocking software on our devices to prevent us from seeing harmful, intrusive or even – all available ads online. Despite attempts by digital publishers to ban ad blockers and a mutiny against such technology, ad blocking software continues to thrive with over 615 million devices blocking such ads worldwide. The effect of adblockers on the advertising industry is not so good, with current predictions likely to only get worse – with the biggest internet browsers and devices likely to integrate ad blocking as a default setting. Due to this, the future of paid advertising online will likely have to find other avenues that don’t feature ad blocking, such as apps, or by publishing sponsored content onto targeted sites in an attempt to be free from the strong hand of the adblocker.


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Altogether, the future of paid advertising online is looking to be one filled with opportunities if advertisers are able to get past the technological changes that will put to rest the online advertising methods of the past. With voice ads set to explode, advertisers will for example, have to learn the linguistics of their target audience at the point where they approach a voice assistant with a query, in order for an advertiser to best cater towards providing an ad appropriate to that of what they are asking. The end of the screen may require advertisers move away from what they know best to develop solutions for any future technological devices that come about, whether smart glasses or otherwise. Custom, tailored advertising is likely to increase the conversions that are achieved for an organisation if formatted correctly, as it’ll ensure relevance of all ads to the targeting user – this being one of the most positive developments for the future of online advertising. Interactive ads will bring with it a whole new way of viewing advertisements and the most engaging ads are likely to be the winners in this ad war. As for ad blocking, stepping off the long trodden path of vanilla advertising outlets is likely to be the best avenue for avoiding being overwhelmed and locked out by ad blockers in the digital space that we all inherit.

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Michael Tucker

Search and Social Marketer at Silkstream Ltd
Hola! My name is Michael Tucker and I deal with Search and Social Digital Marketing here at Silkstream. Enjoyed reading my article? Why not check out some others I've written by clicking "Latest Posts" above!