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2016: The Year Of Display


The Chinese New Year is quickly approaching, and I am always curious to learn what the next 12 months might have in store based on ancient Chinese and zodiac traditions.

According to the organizers of San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Festival and Parade, the Year of the Monkey will be full of invention and improvisation, and the spirit of the animal will encourage us to exploit ingenious options. How can marketers use this to their benefit?

eMarketer recently reported that 2016 will be the first year that advertising spend on display will surpass search, accounting for the largest share of digital ad spend: 47.9 percent, or $32.17 billion. The gap will widen each year as display spend continues to surpass search with increased investment and experimentation on new social, video and rich media ad formats.

While the Chinese zodiac may not have a direct correlation to display advertising, the trends that have been forecast lead me to believe that 2016 will be a year of innovation and improvisation as marketers tackle industry challenges head-on to improve performance and exceed goals.

Here are three key industry and consumer trends and advice on how to use them to make the most of your digital display advertising.

Data Intelligence For Enhanced Audience Targeting

Display banners, pre-roll video and Instagram carousel ads provide unique consumer experiences, each created to meet different goals and objectives. With so many moving pieces, managing and optimizing strategies across multiple platforms can be a headache.

Help comes in the form of a simple technique to implement across a variety of strategies for smarter campaigns: Use first-party data for behavioral modeling and increased targeting.

According to eMarketer’s “US Digital Display Advertising Trends: Eight Developments to Watch for in 2016,” brands will continue to find new ways to collect and unify first-party data and incorporate more offline data — information derived from location, payments, in-store and IoT (the Internet of Things) — to inform campaigns.

When building a display strategy, it is essential to know what data opportunities exist, both internally and among your partners. Be informed on how you can use proprietary data for better, smarter targeting to reach the right audiences at the right time. This includes creating lookalike audiences and mirroring characteristics and behaviors to find highly relevant consumers.

Branding and prospecting have historically taken a spray-and-pray approach, aiming to reach as many people as possible with the hope of some results. Now you can layer in data to make ad serving more efficient and effective.

Data insights applied to all display strategies ensure a consistent experience as target audiences move across devices and platforms.

Ad Blocking Will Continue To Gain Traction

Ad blocking is a growing concern that won’t be resolved in 2016. However, there are many opportunities to navigate around it to reach consumers with relevant ad experiences.

A study conducted by ComScore and Sourcepoint showed just nine percent of US desktop-based visitors, and only 0.1 percent of mobile web page views, used ad blockers. These numbers are relatively low now, which makes the real issue the uncertainty of growth and adoption over the coming months and even years.

Back in October, I published a column on why iOS 9’s ad blocking isn’t dire for advertisers. My main recommendation related to in-app advertising, and I still believe in-app provides an environment to soften ad-blocking blows.

US smartphone consumers spend more than seven times more time in apps than on a mobile browser, validating the shift of mobile ad dollars to in-app advertising. Apps can pinpoint consumer targeting based on a variety of data points — including demographic, contextual and location — to find a receptive audience.

Native Advertising Will Provide Better Customer Experience And Performance

Ad blocking will push native advertising ahead in 2016. BI Intelligence forecasts that US advertisers will spend $7.9 billion on native ads this year, with the vast majority coming from social.

Taking advantage of the increasing amount of time consumers spend scrolling through social feeds, Facebook and Instagram provide premium native placement opportunities. For a more organic feel on the highly visual platforms, ad formats will continue to evolve as multi-product ads, Dynamic Product Ads and video ads further encourage consumer engagement.

In a survey by Trusted Media Brands, 44 percent of respondents called native a “less intrusive ad format,” and 27 percent cited native’s “better user experience.” Social in-feed ads may dominate native ads for now, but we can expect to see additional native ad types grow in popularity, particularly on mobile.

Native advertising might not be a sure solution to ad blocking as it becomes more sophisticated, but ad experiences will become more enjoyable for consumers. (And, of course, marketers will need to ensure they abide by the FTC’s recently-issued guidelines on native advertising.)


Digital advertising, specifically display, is always changing. That is one thing you can count on. As the landscape continues to evolve, pay attention to these few trends, and you will be just fine.

I tell my team not to dwell on the past, but to celebrate the wins and quickly move on to accomplish bigger and better things. There is always room to improve and build on the momentum to become better. The insights provided here should give you and your team guidance to make your display advertising shine.

May 2016, the Year of the Monkey, help your business thrive — Happy New Year!

via Marketing Land


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