Imagine being able to predict the future.
You would know the weather before the weatherman. You could bet on sports and make millions. You could save the world from a natural disaster. You could spend your entire life saying, “I told you so.”
The thing is, with a little prep work and strong attention to detail, you can.
I studied History in college, and when asked why I’d often answer with the popular “studying the past prepares you for the future” adage. It’s basically a more intelligent way to say knowing what has happened can often tell you what will happen.
For me, it was a significantly better answer than the truth (I really just wanted to hear stories of gallant knights on horseback).
But for the mobile advertising industry, understanding the signals that guide the past to the present – otherwise known as trends – can help you catch a glimpse of what’s to come down the road.
And besides, who doesn’t want to stay on top of all the latest happenings surrounding one of the fastest growing industries on the planet.
As eMarketer forecasts, mobile ad spend looks to account for 72% of all digital ad spend by 2019. Not surprisingly, that’s after finding that 71% of all U.S. residents today own a smartphone.
As we marketers say all the time, money follows eyeballs.
So before mobile officially takes over the world, I’m going to do a little forecasting of my own and pluck the best trends to look for as mobile ad spend approaches that impressive 72% figure.
That’s right. I’m going to be your mobile advertising weatherman (just please don’t chuck a frosty at me).
1. More Mobile Devices, So Many More
This just might be the easiest forecast to… well, er – cast – so I’ll start with this first. There will be more mobile devices. How many? Well… more. A lot more.
If mobile devices were people, we’d have a serious population problem.
But that’s not the scary part.
I sat and watched both these trackers in real-time. In 20 seconds, the world’s population increased by 50 people.
In that same 20 seconds?
The mobile device count increased by 350. If you don’t want to do the math (I don’t blame you) that’s 7 times faster than the human population.
Let’s say that again: The mobile device count is growing 7 times faster than the human population.
So I think it’s a safe bet that mobile device counts will continue to grow at an unfathomably high rate – higher than even the entire human race.
2. Wearables Will Be Worn
The Apple Watch is finally here, perhaps ushering in the beginning of a new era of the mobile wearable.
While you can debate among your friends whether or not the Apple Watch is worth purchasing, it doesn’t change that the fact that the Apple Watch is expected to account for 36% of the company’s revenue growth in 2015.
The Apple Watch isn’t the only wearable that’s gaining steam. Others, like the popular fitness wearable Fitbit and the soon-to-make-an-appearance Android Wear, continue to flood the market with new technological capabilities.
In short, wearables make being mobile easier. By placing many of the sensory technologies on our wrist, wearables allow you to monitor the time, physical activity, and daily notifications hands-free, without having to dig into your pockets.
3. Data From “Things”
We all have them.
Smartphone. Refrigerator. TV. Hairbrush.
How many of the inanimate objects we currently have lying about our living spaces will soon vibrate to life and become “smart?” How many will soon connect what we do and how we do it to the vast digital wilderness that is the Internet?
Chances are, probably a lot. It’s already happening now. TVs are now smart. Watches are smart. Soon, maybe we’ll even have talking garbage disposals.
Hopefully, this emerging Internet of Things will make our lives easier. But for marketers and advertisers, it should provide the additional advantage of offering unparalleled access to behavior-informing data and analytics.
These consumer insights will come from all angles across the various touchpoints we interact with on a daily basis. And there will be a lot of them.
To this end, analysis will need to be quick and comprehensive. The mineshaft of data will be deep, requiring a similarly deep understanding from organizations across the entire advertising spectrum.
Organizations will want to take advantage.
4. Native Ad Inventory Will Increase
You don’t really want your advertising to look like advertising, do you? Especially today, when ads don’t always have a stellar reputation. They can be annoying, distracting, and worst of all, irrelevant, leading an increasing number of users to adopt ad blocking technologies.
This is why native advertising has already achieved the levels of success that is has.
Native ads offer higher levels of engagement than standard banner ads without the penalty of annoying the hell out of their audience. Facebook’s recent release of native advertising tools for publishers will only make it easier to implement native advertising campaigns moving forward.
Expect native advertising inventory to grow significantly, with in-app offerings like Twitter’s promoted tweets or Facebook’s sponsored stories leading the charge.
5. Viewability: A Movement to 100% Fulfillment
“…by this point in the Great Viewability Debate of 2015,
just seeing the word ‘viewability’ makes people want to do anything but look at something.”
What a delightfully caustic quote from Ken Wheaton over at AdAge.com (I’m a big fan, Ken). It perfectly encapsulates just how tired everyone is of hearing about this crap.
People are so tired of it that they want to fix it now. They want to put out the flames. They want to douse the viewability issue with 100% guarantees to make it go away.
But here’s the deal.
100% guarantees aren’t possible. Depending on the ad type, there’s no way to guarantee that a person will physically see it. There are too many factors that advertisers, vendors, and publishers can’t control – specifically how users choose to interact with an app or website.
So, instead of claiming 100% viewability, claim 100% fulfillment. That’s all these so-called 100% viewability guarantees are offering anyway.
The industry needs to understand and be upfront with what’s possible.
For the time being, that’s 100% fulfillment – not 100% viewability.
6. India Will Become (Is Already) a Mobile Behemoth
Mobile may seem like the logical next step in the digital evolution. But for many countries living on the boundaries of modern society, mobile is often the first step.
India may be the prime example of this, where smartphone adoption rates have soared in recent years.
It’s an interesting phenomenon. Traditional fixed broadband technologies are often too expensive and too poorly implemented to reach much of the 1.2 billion people who live there. To compensate, many of these people use mobile device networks as their gateway to the internet.
The mobile market, both in India and abroad, has taken notice. Smartphone penetration is increasing considerably with over 250 million devices expected by the end of 2015. On the whole, it’s the fastest growing smartphone market on the planet, with special interest given specifically to mobile apps.
While this is already increasing mobile ad traffic considerably, mobile ad revenue should soon follow suit and start to boom as well.
7. Cries for Consolidation Are Coming
Hey, it happens.
When mobile advertising was just getting started, there were a lot of kinks to work out. So a bunch of different organizations started building technologies to fix things.
But now there are way too many technologies.
To get a sense of it, the average mobile campaign requires upwards of 15 different solutions across just as many vendors.
As you might of guessed, that can cause a lot of breakdowns – and it’s not cheap.
Before long, advertisers are going to start clamoring for industry consolidation.