7 Digital Ad Trends That Will Make or Break Your Strategy in 2018

Amrita Hemdev
By Amrita Hemdev
August 08, 2018
Digital advertising is in a state of massive transformation driven by consumer demand for more personalized and relevant experiences. Delivering those experiences requires advertising strategy and technology that taps into the full power of data. For companies to cut through the noise, advertisers must deliver relevant content that resonates with every individual.

Global digital advertising spend reached $209 billion in 2017.

We’ve hit the mid-year mark for 2018, and a lot has already happened in the world of advertising, which is set to see even more advancements. Digital advertising is now essential to keep up with the changing times, and over-the-top (OTT) advertising is currently the most significant trend. Online advertising budgets continue to rise, and digital advertisers must continue to evolve practices as they strive to make their content an asset.

Before setting new goals and plans for the rest of 2018, we decided to put together a list of 2018 trends that are shaping the digital advertising landscape in the present and the future mostly for advertisers and agencies. These trends are more likely to increase your chances of beсoming digital top bananas and help to build a successful digital advertising strategy for the future campaigns.


Spending on OTT ads will skyrocket

2018: the year advertising and marketing professionals need to commit to connected TV (CTV). As linear-only households continue to decline, agencies and advertisers must look forward and embrace the change CTV brings.

OTT platforms are growing in number and size. Consumers who want to cut the cord now have a wealth of options that didn’t exist a couple of years ago, so we expect the offerings to become even more robust as more players enter the market.

By the end of 2017, there were already 193.3 million OTT video service users in the U.S. This number is projected to consistently rise in the next few years to over 209.5 million OTT users by 2021.




Programmatic advertising will grow

For those running digital advertising campaigns, programmatic is the most popular choice. Sixty-five percent of B2B marketers say that they buy and sell ads programmatically. This number is increasing every day, with programmatic expected to grow from $25.69 billion in 2016 to $65.63 billion by 2020.

Advertising automation will gain solid ground among advertisers as it saves them a lot of time and money, all while making their ads more effective.

eMarketer predicts that more than $46 billion will go to programmatic advertising in the U.S. this year. By 2020, 86.2% of all digital display ads will be bought via automated channels.

Programmatic channels will claim nearly three-quarters of digital video ad dollars in 2018, a portion that will rise to almost 80% by 2020. As added investment in OTT and CTV inventory grows, momentum around programmatic video will only rise.




Mobile is driving most ad spending growth

With more online users switching from desktop to mobile browsing, advertisers will continue to put more and more of their digital advertising budget towards mobile.

Mobile ads have been a massive hit with advertisers in 2018.

Mobile ad spending in the U.S. is expected to reach $30.3 billion in 2018, up from $7.2 billion last year.

According to eMarketer’s April 2018 report, advertisers’ increasing spend will push mobile’s share of total media to 47.9% by 2022. Advertisers are pouring dollars into mobile due to the growing mobile commerce activity. Conversions from mobile display ad placements have already surpassed those of desktop display ad placements.


Contextual ads will be everywhere

The contextual advertising market is expected to be worth $125.79 billion in 2018 and is likely to reach $297.68 billion by 2023.

The growth of this market can be attributed to factors such as an increasing number of social media users, personalized marketing strategies, and the rising trend of mobile advertisement.

Advertisers will show ads based on the user’s activities online and also their motivation and desires.




Data-driven and addressable TV advertising are on the rise because both give advertisers a more effective way of reaching their right target while also being able to attribute ROI through the entire marketing funnel.


Digital video ads will continue to dominate

As the old saying goes, money follows eyeballs, and all eyes are on video in 2018.

An updated report from eMarketer shows that digital video ad spending will increase by double-digit percentages annually between 2018 and 2021, topping $26 billion by the end of that period.

Digital video combines the emotional impact of the story with the efficacy of digital advertising. It is a perfect way for businesses to engage authentically with today’s consumers. It has the scale of television, the precision of digital advertising, and the power of authentic story.

According to a recent survey by the IAB, digital video ad spend has increased by 53%  over the past two years.




Native ads will take over

Brace yourself to see native ads take over ad spaces from social media advertising to programmatic advertising in 2018.

Native ads are viewed 53% more than banner ads. The growth in B2B digital ad spending over the past two years is likely due to increased spending on native ads.

74% of the total display ads revenue in the U.S. is projected to come from native advertising by 2021. Expenditure on native ads is expected to reach $21 billion in 2018.

Native advertising is a form of digital advertising where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed. Examples of native digital display ads include sponsored content, promoted content, content recommendation widgets, in-feed units (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo News), rewarded video ads, and outstream video ads within a feed or article. Native excludes in-stream video ads (e.g., YouTube).




Audience-based advertising is growing

Audience-based advertising allows brands to segment and target their audiences beyond age and gender while providing more granular measurement than traditional buying. It naturally leads to more effective ad buys with less waste by reaching consumers in whatever corner of digital media they might visit.

Buying ads based on actual user data would help advertisers reach their target audience in a much more effective way.

About 78% of consumers want to receive relevant, personalized ads, but only 20% felt they were getting them. That’s what’s driving the shift to audience-based advertising.

Advertisers now can have different options of targeting that are more precise and backed by measurements that can show what worked for campaign performance and what didn’t work, so they can optimize both their existing and future buys and help these campaigns perform even better.

2018 has ushered in a mighty shift in digital advertising. New trends have entered the marketplace, and your company or media agency needs to pay attention. With the need to become more visible and reach more customers, the digital advertising of tomorrow offers advancements in emerging technologies as consumers demand a more integrated experience.

If the first half of 2018 has been rough for your ad campaigns, consider these trends in your strategy for the rest of the year and into 2019 to help you maximize your budget and ultimately achieve better results.

When you're ready to use these trends as a part of your digital advertising strategy, we're here to help you accelerate your success!



Picture of Amrita Hemdev

Amrita Hemdev

Amrita is an inbound marketer. She studied marketing and project management at UC Berkeley and proceeded to work in a fast-paced, digital advertising tech startup, with a goal of increasing brand awareness. She is currently the Content Marketing Specialist at ZypMedia. Passionate about digital marketing and having six years of experience in this field, she also started her digital marketing and creative agency, Sociato, based in India.