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The Future of Digital Advertising

Mitchell O'Gorman, Campaigns Manager at Independent News and Media, explores three trends that will shape the future of digital advertising.

Advertising, Research

Instead of starting with a disclaimer that nobody can entirely predict future events, I’m going to stick my neck out and say definitively – this is exactly what’s going to happen in the near future with digital advertising in Ireland.*

I’m not talking about the year 2050, I’m talking about the short-term future. I expect all of these to come about by the year 2020, mostly because all of these trends are already in play, so I’m just following them to their digital dénouement!

So, here we go…

Native Content

Native content will continue to drive growth in the digital advertising market – ever more so with ad-blocking to become more of a threat to display advertising.

New rich media storytelling formats are become more important. Visually stunning online articles, created in collaboration with brands, showcasing great photo, video, graphic and written content elements are a great way for brands to tell their stories. Oft mentioned examples of best practice in this format include the New York Times’ partnership with Netflix for Orange is the New Black and SB Nation’s work with Nike. INM have just released an Irish-market-first multimedia format in conjunction with the HSE #littlethings campaign that we’re very proud of. I would expect, as the native market matures in Ireland, that content and media rich stories will eventually outweigh the popularity of whimsical listicles and click-baity pointless articles. One can only hope.


The automation of media buying, or programmatic buying, is the media juggernaut that won’t slow down for a number of years. In the UK in 2015, programmatic overtook direct buying in terms of overall display advertising for the first time, now accounting for 59% of all display advertising spend (up from 28% in 2014). Ireland is playing catch up, but it’s catching up fast. By the year 2020 I believe that programmatic will account for close to 100% of display ad buying, driving greater efficiencies in delivering campaigns to more targeted audiences, and definitely putting more of the control in the hands of brands and agencies. A key challenge here will be the upskilling of ad operations, sales and trading staff to meet this quickly growing trend.

Not only will programmatic greatly impact on display ads, but more and more video, mobile and search ads will be delivered programmatically. In addition to this, programmatic will lay a key role in the delivery of native content to targeted audiences, with companies like Polar, Nativo, Taboola and Outbrain already leading the way in the automated distribution of native content

Audience as Content Creators

A 2012 study by Bazaar showed that 51% of Millennials in America trust User Generated Content (UGC) when researching internet purchases, compared to just 16% trusting information on the brand’s own website. The growth of social media has resulted in a significant power-shift between brands and their audiences – with consumers now having power to praise or punish a brand and get that messaging out to a potentially huge community. This prospect can terrify brands, but the ability to access and promote user generated content also provides a huge opportunity for brands and media organisations.

Irish start-up, and now global media success story, Storyful created an ecosphere where user generated content could be verified, distributed to publishers and given the chance to influence breaking news stories on a global scale.

Our own Travel in Ireland hub has incorporated software that allows us to automatically capture and share stunning images of people’s Irish holidays experiences using the #thisisliving campaign hashtag.

As new technologies (such as Rivet) emerge that allow capturing and sharing of UGC from social and other channels, there are massive growth opportunities for brands and media organisation to create compelling, trustworthy UGC-fuelled campaigns.

There are countless other trends currently shaping the digital advertising landscape, I haven’t gotten around to creative cross-platform campaigns, iBeacons and the Internet of Things and the opportunities they present, but the above 3 current trends are set to dominate the digital advertising landscape over the coming 5 years.

*Disclaimer: I could very well be wrong about everything!

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