A snapshot report of the key digital trends discussed during SearchStar’s recent event: Data in Advertising.

“What we’re going to see is ‘PPC’ as a word will fade away, to make way for the rise of virtual assistants.”

These are the prophetic words of Dan Fallon, Managing Director of SearchStar, opening their all-day conference; ‘Data in Advertising’. The rise of virtual assistants was one of the many data-driven trends discussed that could change the face of advertising.

Here, we’ve cherry-picked three key themes from the day’s talks to give you a glimpse into the future.


The Digital Lag

People are spending more time on digital devices than ever before. The average adult user now spends almost 6 hours a day on digital media, with over 3 of those on mobile. That’s compared to 4.3 hours, just 5 years ago.

Despite our apparently insatiable appetite for digital and mobile content, a gap has opened up between advertisers and the end user. Investment from brands into digital ad platforms has yet to catch up with the reality of where users are spending their time.

The reasons for this aren’t exactly clear. Some speculate it’s anxiety surrounding reports about fake news, fake social media accounts, and unmoderated content. All of which has led to marketers ‘sticking with what they know’, with a long-tail of the market still unsure of how or when to make the transition online.

Whatever the reason, one of the consequences of this lag is that mobile and online video remain relatively ‘cheap’ channels. For the time being, these relatively untapped channels offer a substantial return on investment.


Source: Kleiner Perkins 2018 Internet Trends 


The TV Advertising Revolution

If you’ve spent any significant period of time on YouTube then you’ll be very accustomed to being served highly targeted ads. Be it a 6 second bumper for a piece of software you were reading up on last week, or a trailer for a new Playstation 4 game because, guess what? You watched a few reviews yesterday.

What we don’t see is the same personalised experience when we’re sat in front of the TV. As a platform, television has traditionally been restricted to broad, regional and demographic targeting; the reserve of big spenders who can justify the hefty price tag for maximum reach. But that’s set to change, soon.

For a sign of things to come, look no further than Sky AdSmart. With this innovative new platform, different ads can be shown to different households watching the same programme. Imagine the adbreaks between Game of Thrones being filled, not with a generic promo for the new Audi, but with a message from your local Audi dealership.

This means brands and businesses can now advertise on national channels, to relevant audiences. TV will become accessible for the first time to niche brands, SMEs and location-specific advertisers.

The Age of Assistance

Advertising has evolved over the years to become ever more sophisticated. Initially advertisers targeted “what I want now” through search, then “what I wanted last week” through remarketing, but we are now moving into the age of “what I’m about to want” through predicted intent.


Source: Kleiner Perkins 2018 Internet Trends

There’s an assistant-war going on between Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri to grab share of the market, with Facebook widely tipped to join the fray soon. One of the key ingredients for the sudden spike in assistant ownership is recent advances in voice recognition technology. Google now has a staggering 95% accuracy when recognising the English language.

Voice data, combined with other device data, means that assistants are becoming so well established in our lives that they will soon be able to predict what we want, before we even want it. This will mean the volume of searches that we make on a daily basis is actually likely to go down, replaced by more sophisticated advertising higher up the purchase journey.

This leaves room for new, exciting advertising formats that aid discovery. For example, Google Lens can access your smartphone camera when you’re pointing at an object and, through machine learning, can provide more details and relevant search results. In the example here, if you point your camera at a lamp, Lens will show you results for visually similar furniture on sale.

Looking forward

Whether you’re an SME or international brand, what’s clear is that digital innovation is continuing to level the playing field. The next year will see an evolution of advertising formats and new discovery tools that will harness precise targeting and personalisation. In the age of AI and assistance, brands will have to focus on differentiating through CX, strategy and creativity to get ahead.

This is just a glimpse at some of the main trends that were discussed on the day itself. If you would like to see a full summary of the event, including a view of the future from Google, head here.

For more information on keeping up with digital trends, please contact Joe Johnston at saintnicks on 0117 927 0100 or via email at joe.johnston@saintnicks.uk.com