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The new year is here and “2019 advertising and marketing trends” articles are being shoveled out as quickly as they can be published. This year, DASH TWO is taking a somewhat different approach. Instead of pretending we have a crystal ball and making predictions, we’ve taken a look at current trends and the obstacles those trends might present.

Let’s talk about the challenges you’re going to be facing with digital advertising in the coming year—and how to surmount those challenges for you and your brand.

1. CTV Advertising

While TV commercial spending continues to decline, connected TV ad spending will increase. That increase is largely driven by a significant consumer trend away from traditional cable with cord-cutting and embracing a combination of the many streaming content providers on the market these days.

Connected TV (CTV) is the provision of streaming television-type content to consumers by these providers over an internet connection, as opposed to the traditional satellite/cable providers that have dominated the market for the last few decades. Advertising on CTV content will continue to be a competitive and effective way to reach a broad variety of demographics.

The next challenge for advertisers will be understanding how CTV advertising works and implementing it strategically into the brand’s overall strategy.

2. Native Advertising

Consumers continue to become more knowledgeable and sophisticated purchasers. They also continue to become more resistant to hard-hitting “salesy” advertisements, in all formats and media. That makes the advertising brand’s job even harder. How do you break through those walls and reach your prospects with the information they need to make a purchase from your brand?

Native advertising helps soften the resistance by providing truly helpful content in a way that is useful and engaging to the user. For most brands selling physical products, this is especially useful, especially with video formats. Video is the most engaging form for content that allows for compelling storytelling, which boosts conversion rates and helps speed up the customer’s buying process/journey and gets them to a sale more efficiently.

According to eMarketer, ad spending on video will increase up to fifty percent in 2019. While the top choices will be mobile and social media video ads, you can integrate video and native advertising with some strategic planning.

That’s the challenge: Figure out creative ways to tie your products into useful “how-to” video and written content. Don’t skimp on the creative aspects, however. Hire experienced copywriters and video production companies to help you execute this strategy and stay within your budget.

3. AI and Machine Learning

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is considered transformative tech, in pretty much any context you can imagine. However, in digital advertising, we’re just beginning to see the promise and broader adoption of AI as we head into 2019. New uses will include detecting and cutting down on CPC ad fraud as well as bleeding-edge targeting solutions.

AI also powers chatbots, which (when implemented correctly) help keep customer service levels high while keeping costs down. Today’s chatbots offer a higher degree of relatability through enhanced data capabilities, programmable personalities, and even a sense of humor. Human beings generally don’t mind interacting with a bot, but for the best results, the ‘bot needs to be personable. You can integrate a chatbot with your company’s website or app, or with a social media network (such as Facebook through the Messenger app).

AI technology also helps improve ad targeting to deliver the best message to the specific audience you want to reach, in just the right “place.” AI helps customize your message, as well, meaning you reach them at the right time, too, as part of a responsive ad campaign. Major retail companies can combine a deep dive into consumer data with AI-based services that produce truly precise information about their customers.

Your challenge will be understanding the ways you can use new or evolving AI and machine learning-based solutions to help improve your current marketing and advertising mix.

4. Google AdWords

While you’re considering the new technologies that offer so much potential, don’t count out the “old” standby in the digital advertising world. Google AdWords is evolving, just like every other aspect of digital advertising and marketing.

For example, Smart Display campaigns help you reach more prospects and target them at more precisely configured moments along your buyer’s journey. Moving beyond “awareness” and “decision making” into more granular divisions helps you keep up with your targeted audience.

Using a Smart Display campaign helps you get your ads in front of more eyeballs, in just about any format. Three specific technologies help you achieve this more precise targeting and broader display:

1. Automated bidding to optimize your bids based on the odds of conversion
2. Automated targeting to improve the display of your ads to the contexts in which the ad is most likely to convert
3. Automated ad creation, based on the basic elements you provide (headlines, logos, images, etc.)

So the challenge here will be learning to create and manage effective Smart Display campaigns. You’ll also want to make sure you’ve got the budget for this strategy and that you meet the conversion-based requirements. That means you’ll need to implement campaigns within the thirty days preceding your targeted launch day for your Smart Display campaign.

5. Mastering the Micro-Moment

Mobile users spend on average about three hours and 35 minutes on their devices each day. That’s not all at once, of course; it’s spread out into over 100 or more sessions over the course of a day. Part of that time will be spent pursuing some intentional task, of course.

What that means for the advertiser is a whole lot more pressure to grab the user’s attention in a positive way. If your ad interferes with the primary purpose, an annoyed user will simply “x” out or swipe to remove your message, and you’ll be left with a negative brand impression—a double loss.

To win at the digital advertising game, you have to be positioned to take immediate advantage of the moments where the user is receptive to your message. Those moments are the micro-moments, and they’re usually characterized by a specific consumer intent on the part of the user. That intent can be to discover specific information (price, for example), to make specific plans for an event (reserving tickets), or to make a specific purchase.

Because so many consumers who use smartphones use the devices when making an in-store purchase (82 percent, according to Google), these micro-moments are crucial seconds that a brand can either take advantage of in a way that’s helpful to the user, or misuse (or ignore altogether).

The challenge of mastering this micro-moment requires understanding the buyer’s journey for your products at its realistic moment-by-moment level. Each of those sessions can represent a slightly different intent, task, or context. To master these moments, you need to be responsive with your ad content. It has to be snackable or bite-sized, so the user can “consume” it quickly. (That’s why they’re “micro”-moments.) You also have to be useful in that moment, given the specific need or context for that user.

6. Augmented Reality (AR)

Remember the buzz surrounding the release of Pokemon GO a few years back? The popularity of the game, and other AR-powered experiences like it, shows one thing clearly: people really respond to content that engages them on some level, especially if that engagement involves actual participation.

By the year 2022, it’s anticipated that the VR/AR market will be worth about $209 billion. Right now, it’s about a tenth that size. So some fairly impressive and rapid growth is expected.

The challenge will be figuring out whether your brand is really a natural fit for an AR element in its advertising & marketing plan. If that fit exists, by all means, explore the opportunity. Think of ways you can create interactivity and gamification around your core USP and critical or foundational content. Explore what it would it take to develop this content for your users and whether it’s a natural fit for your core group of customers.

However, keep in mind that the market is still considered an emerging one. Don’t be too eager to put all your eggs in this or any other freshly woven basket.

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