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What’s the Future of Advertising?

In the past 20 years, every industry has gone through some form of digital transformation but few industries have been as heavily impacted as the advertising industry. In 1996, only 20 years ago, the internet was just starting to take off. This year, it’s projected that digital ad spend will officially surpass TV ad spend and very few question if that trend has any sign of slowing down.

Before the internet there really was no solid way to measure the effectiveness of advertising. Today, we can literally track the effectiveness of each ad published across millions of websites. We can not only make changes, but test changes with concrete data. The rise of programmatic brought a whole new dimension to advertising. Header bidding promises to bring a new surge of revenue to publishers without having to bog down users with more ad units.

Apple recently released its new operating systems, iOS 11 &  High Sierra, which is causing a huge controversy in the advertising world for the new Safari feature blocking cross-site tracking. This threatens to make a huge dent on publisher revenues and advertiser effectiveness.

Not to mention we’ve had the tech freely available for years now to completely kill the advertising industry as it stands — of course I’m talking about ad blockers. This is perhaps the scariest thing facing the future of the internet at the moment. Even Google is working on its own Chrome-based ad blocker which is set to be released in 2018. Whether you hate ads or not, they pay for almost all your favorite sites to exist and create more content for you. The more ad revenue that slips through publishers fingers due to ad blocking tech, the closer and closer we’ll come to the web as we know it crashing down.

It’s clear the industry has changed drastically in the past 20 years but what does the future look like? What will the impact of all these new technologies mean for the industry? To find out answers to these questions, we spoke with 10 ad industry experts and posed the question:

What’s the Future of Advertising

Here’s what we learned…


Yulia Khansvyarova, Head of Digital Marketing at SEMrush

“I have no doubts that the future of advertising lies in digital world. Traditional marketing channels have exhausted themselves and are now stepping back. In my opinion, the future of digital advertising is about personalization, multi-device targeting and building a unified user-centered ecosystem. Right now such ecosystems are just appearing.

There is a lot of talk about cross-device tracking, mobile ads and different marketing channels used as a complex. But in reality, if you want to build a system that will be able to keep an eye on user behaviour and follow all user steps in decision making, you will still need to code a lot and build a custom solution yourself. In the nearest future, I guess, this situation will change for the better.”


Sherrilynne Starkie, President of Thornley Fallis Communications

“Advertising is going to start to look a lot more like PR (it already is). And PR is looking a lot more like advertising. And so is marketing, sales, promotions and even a little bit of HR. My point is that communications need to be integrated across the organization to be effective today. There’s no point in a Super Bowl ad buy with messages your employees, shareholders, channel partners or other stakeholders can’t get behind. The risk of social media backlash is too great.

Also, there’s no point in developing loads of excellent social media content with the hopes it will be seen by customers; better to invest in targeted pay per click ads to ensure your stories are exposed to the people you want to reach. And don’t forget, every employee has the potential to be an online ambassador for the company, with the right tools and training.

So ad pros are becoming relationship builders and PRs are managing media budgets as part of their daily routines. The advertising future looks bright? Yes, but integrated.”


Leo Levinson, CEO at Group Levinson Advertising

“The future of advertising must still be rooted in the fundamentals of salesmanship first, while utilizing the latest technology, second. It cannot place technology over business acumen and selling. In other words, the strategy for messaging won’t change from thousands of years of selling history. The technology of media will change, but ultimately is rooted in trust, ability to deliver reach & frequency with value, and ease in completing the call to action. The most effective media and technology will communicate either the broadest awareness messaging and/or the most limited range of hyper-trusted endorsements. I believe much advertising media will become even more personal, using technology related to the Internet of Things connected to personal needs, outages, repairs, etc. and designed to intimately relate to one’s needs and to provide choices, information and alternatives to consider before making the purchase.”


Kelly Ehlers, Founder & President of Ideas That Evoke

“The future of advertising lies with social media and paid ads. Already Facebook, Instagram have proven to be the content kings of the internet and that trend will only increase. Why? These platforms allow you to create content, interact, and respond to consumers. Social media provides the platforms needed to directly reach your audience like never before and interact with them in real time. The ability for younger generations to tune out advertisements is only getting better, requiring for a new and more organic approach to how brands reach out to potential consumers and social media is that new and organic approach.”


Michael Quintos, Founder of Digital Ad Agency

“Future advertising will be less intrusive (no pop-ups) and more engaging. Many brands still think digital is a megaphone where they read their messages. 

Consumer want authentic engagement. Short, branded content on social platforms blending content with value. This direction is more engaging and never more than 6 seconds. Does anyone want to meet the jerk in the corner yelling and screaming about himself?

We use a process that starts with a question; if your brand was a character in a book and a consumer walked into the bar – what would the brand say? Who does the brand want to talk to? The answers to those questions immediately drive a more unique digital strategy that feels more authentic to the consumer.

At one point in a galaxy far away “Video Killed The Radio Star”.  A revised version would now sing “Genuine Content Killed The Internet Star”.”


Courtney Herda, CEO and Founder of Smarter Searches

“The future of advertising will be a completely customized and subjective experience – each person will have different interactions with brands that are tailored to their own preferences and purchasing behaviors. The type of personalization in ad delivery that you will see in the future will far surpass current capabilities in remarketing, geofencing and beacons.

The types of ads we see in movies set 50-100 years in the future aren’t far off for us – interactive billboards that know us by name, personal assistants that know not only our daily schedule, but our purchasing habits, musical preferences, and clothing sizes so it can predict our behaviors and act on them independently, and wearables that advertise to us based on our emotional health and not just our physical health.”


Kean Graham, CEO of MonetizeMore

“The future of advertising will be hyper relevant to the viewer and will come from multiple new sources. Advertising will show via digital maps, augmented and virtual reality technology. While the sources of technology will increase, the relevancy will also increase so the ads will seem less intrusive. Views towards advertising will become less pessimistic because advertising will offer more value than ads today.

In the future, ads will actually make reliable suggestions that are relevant to the audience. Laws will be stronger on digital advertising in terms of privacy and legitimacy of the products and messages that they push. Advertisers will still be able to target via aggregated stats, however, their big data algorithms will be much more complex and effective for targeting niche groups in a timely manner. False advertising laws will be stronger and transparency of product quality via crowdsourced and friend reviews will bring the best products to the top of the advertising heap.”


Christina Baldassarre, Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Zebra Advertisement

“Advertising will be displayed on everyday devices. We already see advertising on screens in cars but I am convinced that placements will become available on products that have a display. There are coffee machines that work with WiFi and you can make yourself an espresso from your phone app. It won’t take long for companies to figure out an affordable way to place ads on the touch screens of coffee machines, on your laundry, your dishwasher, the dashboard of your vehicle and other everyday devices.

Amazon has just invented a way to reorder products by pressing a physical button in the comfort of your own home. I am sure they will find a way to monetize that device by adding a screen and running ads on that. I also believe that 3D printing will allow companies to advertise to the masses and replace print collateral with marketing products that can be handed out or sold to clients. Last but not least, air rights will play a role. With drones and virtual touchscreen displays that appear out of nowhere being produced globally, advertisers no longer need large billboards. They can display a video ad out of thin air and let it disappear just as easily.”


Chad Coleman, Co-Founder & CEO at Ascend

“Advertising has no future, it’s essentially dead. There is one simple reason this is true. Everyone hates advertising. Nearly 200 million people currently use ad blocking technology, and that number will only continue to grow.

It’s been a slow painful death, an inevitability that started the day the internet was born. That fateful day every individual figured out that the best way to learn about a product or service was to Google it or ask a friend on social media. In a world where everyone has a platform to tell their story, people control brands, not companies.”


Angela Hill, CEO at Incitrio

“In the future, advertising and marketing will consist of intelligent marketing automation with a combination of semi-managed service and business intelligence.

Big data analytics and consumer behavior will be analyzed to predict consumer trends and purchase behavior. Marketing and advertising tactics will be turned on/off and adjusted to maximize exposure, resonance, and sales conversion. No longer will we employ a “what are you looking for” or “what do you care about” strategy for our messaging.

Instead, the buyer psychographic profile (based on trackable online and offline behavior) will automatically segment and personalize marketing messaging to push products and services based on a “perfect fit” scenario. Future buyers will only see ads that are perfectly customized to their preferences, size, weight, values, and behavior.

Future marketers will provide value by analyzing data, refining psychographic profiling, and ensuring brand alignment for maximum revenue and marketing ROI.”

About the author

Nick Hastreiter

I write about the future of business. I approach this by interviewing founders, CEO's, and other game changers to share their vision for the future of their industry.

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