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4 Digital Display Ad Trends to Watch This Year

digital display ad trendsTargeted digital display ads are booming, with U.S. advertisers estimated to spend $49 billion on them in 2018, according to eMarketer. With digital display ad trends on the rise, now's the time to beef up that line item in your ad spend budget. 

What Are Digital Display Ads Again?

Digital display ads are highly visual and utilize photography, video and graphics, unlike text-based ads. These types of ads are not integrated directly into the body of editorial content, which makes them more prominent and visible.

You see digital display ads in the form of an above-the-scroll or margin banner ad. Sometimes they pop up over the content you're reading. They're generally labeled "Sponsored" or "Ad" so viewers know that they're seeing a paid placement and not something that's part of the website's organic content.

4 Digital Display Ad Trends

An eMarketer report acknowledged concerns about advertising content being mistaken as "fake news," as well as the advertiser's desire to be transparent with outreach efforts. As we move through the year, expect to see a shift in how these ads are created and disseminated. Here are a few insights based on the conversations from an episode of Behind the Numbers, a podcast that analyzed the eMarketer report.

1. Advertisers will move back into the driver's seat.

Advertisers want to have access to the data surrounding the ad buying process, including where ad buys go and who ends up seeing them. Expect to see a shift in ad spend from the open market to more private setups, with a focus on contextual targeting and direct engagement with social platforms.

Databilites, a provider of customer data lists, explained that contextual targeting is ad placement based on fine-tuned demographics (and possibly psychographics) that help target the right ad to the right person at the right time. Hoping for ad impressions on basic location data and browsing history is no longer enough.

Smart advertisers won't navigate these waters alone. It's best to work with a team for a multidimensional approach.

2. Publishers and brands will partner with platforms.

Concerns over brand safety and public image are at an all-time high. Businesses know it's best to collaborate with advertising and marketing experts when it comes to authenticity and professional guidance. Unmanned, automated systems that simply follow a web user's digital trail may initiate ads on unsavory websites that the advertiser doesn't care to be associated with, or post content at a time when messaging should be paused due to unfolding news events.

The safe route is to work with a B2B agency to boost the relevance of an ad and its overall effectiveness. A smarter ad buy translates to reaching your audience where you want to and not just on any random website.

Or, it might all be a smokescreen. Business Insider reported that Google is working to kick automated bogus ads to the curb so ad buyers are no longer paying for space they're not really getting. This is just one more reason to partner with an agency that takes a hands-on approach.

3. Ad dollars will be spent directly on social media.

With built-in metrics and third-party analytics freely available to measure the value of your outreach, advertisers know the power of going directly to social with their budgets. According to the podcast, 39 percent of U.S. digital video ad spending is on Facebook and 27 percent makes its way to YouTube. Social is hot because of its rich audience targeting.

Advertiser interest can be piqued just by the 1.5 billion accounts on Facebook. When you opt for paid ads on the site, you have the option to target your message based on age, gender, education, interests, location and more. With just a few clicks, your digital display ad can go to a Facebook feed, Facebook Messenger and Instagram. It's quick and easy to push out ads.

Social media users expect to see ads on these platforms. Social scheduler Hootsuite recommended beta testing potential ads as social posts to gauge what resonates with followers before putting out any cash, rotating ads every three to five days to avoid audience apathy and to design your ads with smaller mobile screens in mind. What looks good on your full-size desktop computer may not translate to a smartphone.

4. Video content will become more relevant.

Advertisers are asking content creators to produce more and more video spots as YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Prime continue to grow. Facebook has introduced mid-roll ads and there's already discussion about pre-roll ads appearing in the near future.

What's unclear here is how audiences will react to the flood of engaging visual content. The CPMs — cost per thousand impressions — for video ads are high, but is interest and audience engagement overall waning? Although video content is increasing, it will be months or even years before we see the true ROI of this trend over time.

Digiday explained that publishers who commit to video content are chasing bountiful ad revenue, and writers and editorial staff are on the chopping block to make way for these video producers. Amid the "pivot to video" movement, MTV News, Fox Sports, Vocativ and Mashable have all experienced a wave of layoffs.

Are you ready to give your digital display advertising strategy a makeover? Reach out to a marketing professional who can help you discover when, where and what your audience craves so you can place ads in the most effective ways possible.

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