A few years ago, "artificial intelligence," "automated real-time bidding," and "voice search" sounded like futuristic concepts.
Tools such as voice assistants or video-on-demand apps weren't common yet. Marketers used technologies such as classical SEO optimization with three to four patterns, and manual ad pod construction to run their online video campaigns, which helped to find the right audience but wasn't enough to laser-target it.
Now, the unrestricted growth of social networks, global online services, wearables, affordable and functional connected devices, and ad tech development has resulted in widespread adoption of new technologies among users and, as a consequence, in marketing activities.
Read on to learn what the most promising solutions among advertising trends are, how to harness them, and how to adopt them.
OTT and CTV Ad Format
OTT stands for the over-the-top technology, used by people to access video content on their device with the help of an Internet connection. The umbrella term covers CTV (connected TV), car streaming, game consoles, and other connected gadgets that have a video player.
Now that over 40 million viewers are cutting the cord in the US alone, CTV platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, and Sling are turning into advertisers' primary source of video advertising.
Advertisers are looking for technology-empowered ways to capitalize on the surge in CTV and attract an audience with nonobtrusive and engaging formats:
- Rewarded videos that allow viewers to get rewards (prizes, price reduction, etc.) in exchange for watching a short nonskippable video ad
- Shoppable ads with embedded tags inside, so when viewers click on the link they go directly to the webpage of a product from the ad
- Splash ads, such as a full-screen interstitial advertisement filling the screen before the content loads
Dynamic Ad Insertion
Dynamic ad insertion (DAI), often referred to as server-side ad insertion (SSAI), is a technology that allows for stitching ads into live, linear programming, and video-on-demand (VOD) content before a user even begins watching it. Ad chunks are inserted into the playlist at selected times and pushed over the network to the viewing device during ad breaks.
Major advantages of pre-stitching ads into content include...
- Better targeting. Advertising specialists can target using more personalized characteristics: per device, per content, per user.
- Seamless viewer experience. Advertisements and video content are stitched into a single stream, which results in a better and smoother TV-esque experience.
- Dynamic adoption. Adapting or changing ads comes easy: The DAI solution targets users based on what they are watching and offers hyper-relevant content tailored to viewers' interests.
When programmatic advertising is in place, an AI-based technology automatically purchases ads in real-time, replacing search-based manual advertising campaigns.
Unlike a human, digital tools take thousands of parameters into account in addition to the traditional keywords, location, and time of day. That allows for more individualized and targeted campaigns, higher conversion rates, and sought-after ROI, along with lower customer acquisition cost (CAC).
AI uses data from previous transactions, behavioral data, educational background, etc. to...
- Map the customer journey and use it for more relevant and timely ad selection insertion
- Provide a holistic 360-degree picture of the customer's preferences and needs
- Create an ideal buyer persona
As a result of those cumulated efforts, advertising campaigns are based on personalized and spot-on ad messages.
Header-bidding, or pre-bid, is an ad tech tool that allows publishers to offer inventory to multiple ad exchanges at the same time before making calls to their ad servers. That helps advertisers get the maximum yield from a publisher's inventory, and it serves as an alternative to the waterfall method.
The main problem with the waterfall is that publishers offer their ad space to the highest bidders in a cascading fashion. Even if a "lower" network agrees to pay more, it gets no chance to do it; the inventory is sent to them only if nobody from a "higher" network bids over the publisher's price floor. As a consequence, advertisers don't get premium inventory and publishers don't receive their maximum revenue.
In header-bidding, everyone bids at the same time, without prioritization of any demand-side platform (DSP). The publisher's header tag requests several ad networks. They place their bids; then, the winning bid is passed to the publisher's ad server. The publisher's ad server connects the user who has clicked on the webpage to the server of the advertiser who has offered the best price for the ad inventory.
Siri, Alexa, and other voice assistants are a goldmine that still remains mostly unlocked for marketers. They can "send" an ad or a brand's message by merely responding to a user's query.
Voice search is becoming extremely popular. In 2019 and 2020, nearly 40% of Internet users in the US—a third of its total population—used the tool, and those numbers are expected to continue growing.
Consequently, voice search and conversational AI are making a serious impact on SEO and drawing more attention to VSEO.
"Adopting a voice search strategy isn't just about remaining relevant—it's also about creating a unique and optimized customer experience that will foster relationships and build brand loyalty," according to the Digital Marketing Institute.
However, voice search is not merely about branding. It is first of all about efficiency and better optimization.
Voice queries have their peculiarities: They are longer than text searches, they use longer keyphrases, and they usually resemble a complete question ("How to buy a ticket NY to LA" vs. "NY-LA ticket"). Also, as a result of a search, a user gets the top result only. VSEO's rising popularity means marketers are more motivated to rank No. 1 in search instead of settling for customers' finding a link to their website somewhere else on page one of search results.
In light of all those factors, competition in SEO and online promotion will be getting tougher.
* * *
Wider use of technology, the transition by every type of business to online, and routine processes automation are where advertising is heading.
Advertising trends are fueled by the most modern technologies, ad tech tools, the surge in online video, and AI algorithms. If advertisers want to become competitive in the coming decade, they need to adopt the right mix of technology and carefully plan their investments in new ad formats.
More Resources on Ad Tech Trends
CTV Scale Is Here, So Where Are B2B Advertisers?
Eight Ad Tech Innovators' Hopes and Expectations for 2021
How to Reach Families Watching On-Demand Video: Charles Gabriel on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]
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