July 20, 2017

What Will Advertising Look Like in 2020?



Andrew Morsy

UK Managing Director

By 2020, humans will be permanently connected to the web via our brains. Or at least, that’s what science fiction novel Air predicted thirteen years ago.


In reality, we’re far from becoming cyborgs — although there is talk of linking human brains with artificial intelligence (AI) — but technology is advancing rapidly. We’re already living in an era where the location data that smart devices produce is being used to power both ads and everyday services such as Uber, and rich media is facilitating immersive experiences through technologies such as AR and 360 video.

So, if tech evolution continues at this pace, what will the future bring for the industry?

According to PwC, mobile advertising will grow by 18.5 percent each year until 2021, and as the Internet of Things (IoT) gains traction, connected devices will play host to more ad content. Personalisation too is set to increase 10-fold, as sophisticated data, targeting, and creative capabilities fuel better ads. And that’s not to mention the impact of 5G — an innovation so significant, Chancellor Philip Hammond has set aside £16mto create a 5G hub.

To get a clear view of what lies ahead, let’s see what advertising is likely to look like in 2020.

5G delivers super-speed

First and foremost, there’s the much-anticipated arrival of 5G. With download speeds 1,000 times faster than 4G, the next generation network will super-charge connection efficiency; expanding the range of devices online and sending data volumes through the roof. Indeed, by 2020 it’s predicted annual revenues for IoT vendors could exceed $470billion.

By gathering the insight consumers produce as they engage with connected things — from house bots to in-store beacons — advertisers will achieve an unprecedented understanding of individual activity and preferences. And this data will enable them to create personalised, meaningful messages with greater impact. Additionally, high-speed networks will resolve the latency issues that once limited usage of data-intensive advertising formats, such as VR and AR, thereby enabling brands to provide more immersive experiences.

DCO streamlines ads

Dynamic Creative Optimisation (DCO) is already a popular tool for advertisers to instantly adapt messages for maximum in-the-moment impact. By 2020, it will have become an advertising staple across all campaigns, as contextual relevance becomes vital to capture audience interest in the hyper-connected world. Using advanced technologies, advertisers will provide seamless and targeted experiences that take advantage of DCO’s creative scope: adjusting ads to complement myriad environments — and variables — and maximise value for individuals. Advertisers will be able to tell sequential advertising stories that flow uninterrupted across devices and keep consumers hooked, while boosting brand awareness. Furthermore, when layered with location data and used in conjunction with smart location targeting tech that creates custom segments, DCO will allow advertisers to deliver beautiful ads that engage individuals no matter where they are, what they’re doing, or what is happening around them.

A big part of maintaining this success will be an even balance between intriguing consumers and disrupting them; by 2020 advertisers will have learnt that impactful does not mean intrusive.

Emotion plays a bigger role

In recent times we’ve seen a growing shift towards emotion-based advertising — arguably pioneered by brands such as John Lewis — and in the next few years that will only increase. But it will change in one respect; accuracy will improve. As advertisers seek to enhance the effect of emotional ads, there will be a greater focus on understanding what that effect is by tracking individual responses. AI-powered tools that can track a range of reactions, including facial expressions and eye movements, are developing quickly, and in the near future they will be a crucial resource for making sure messages strike the right emotional chord.

Interactivity becomes standard

Today’s consumers are displaying a rising preference for interactive ads that allow them to connect with brands and by 2020 this need will have altered the shape of advertising — and relationships between brands and consumers. Ads will be designed with frames that elicit a direct response from consumers, be that clicking on links in a video or sharing content via social media. We can also expect to see inherently interactive ad formats, like VR and 360 video taking a large share of the market. Consumers will be so used to interacting with brands online that collaborating to build content will be accepted as the norm.

While 2020 might not live up to our sci-fi expectations of flying cars and hard-wired internet access, it will be full of innovation. With 5G turbo-boosting download speeds, ads becoming more personal, interactive, emotional and creative, there will be plenty of change for advertisers, and consumers. And one thing we know for sure: advertising experiences will be better for it.

This post originally appeared in Buisness Review Europe.