Disruptive advertising trends that 2018 brought in

From the love for video to the return of creativity and evolving landscape of MarTech—experts share their take on the defining trends of the year

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Dec 18, 2018 8:06 AM

Another year flew by… and a lot changed. However, one of the things that hasn’t changed is the fact that the process of intelligent disruption for advertising industry is only accelerating. As we gear towards the end of the year, thought leaders look back at disruptive advertising trends that 2018 brought in. From AI and tech-driven marketing approach to how to cater to these changing contours of the business, industry experts share their take….

Video and the voracious Indian viewer

Browsing the web today is basically like watching an endless set of videos looped together on end. The same presents both, challenges and opportunities, when it comes to brand storytelling. Vikas Mehta, CEO, PointNine Lintas, opines that the biggest theme of 2018 has been the continued rise of video, with tailwinds helping from several directions. Mehta says that there has been a focus on video formats by publishers. “The trilogy of large publishers – Google (led by Youtube), Facebook (including Instagram) and Twitter – has been putting a disproportionate focus, driving video consumption.”

Mehta points out the factors that have birthed the voracious Indian viewer. “India has already become the mobile-data capital of the world in terms of per capita consumption. An average smartphone user in India is consuming 1GB of 4G data every day.”

He acknowledges that a great challenge for brands, marketers and agencies alike is to grab attention of this entertainment-hungry audience who’s watching a lot more stuff than ever before. Mehta recommends that it is not only storytelling that needs to evolve significantly to stand out in this new clutter of content, but brands require to expand their thinking, from being communicators to now also publishers/curators/ editors. “It’ll take a different organisational structure in the marketing teams and an ecosystem of agency partner(s) to succeed in this context,” he highlights.

The return of creativity

Has great creative lost its primacy and has it been replaced by media, data and strategy? Narayan Devanathan, Group Executive & Strategy Officer, Dentsu Aegis Network, South Asia, remarks that one disruptive trend that he has noticed catching on is the return of creativity at the centre of the business. “Sure, you have to up the game in technology—whether it takes the form of data or digital or AI or what-have-you—because that’s the latest medium for creativity to find expression. But creativity is the industry’s raison d’etre. And that for me is the most disruptive (if nascent) trend of the year.”  

Agency of the future

The year has witnessed a couple of mergers of two diverse entities (JWT & Wunderman and VML & Y&R) to better navigate the demands of modern advertising. Another trend is how AI is being deployed far and wide in the advertising world. Making a case for these, Neeraj Bassi, Managing Partner & Chief Strategy Officer, Publicis India, says that the amount of conversations about future of AI, future of advertising and their combined future has been quite an earful. “For the first time, we had one brand mocking the trend by creating a spoof AI ad (Burger King) and another brand actually investing in creating an ad led by AI (Lexus). But if we go deeper, the bigger disruption in 2018 is the large networks waking up to the changing contours of our business. For once, there is an attempt to re-invent by changing the identity marker or merging two very different verticals into one proposition. I see interesting times in 2019,” he says.                                        

Authenticity and truth

From mere cause-vertising creative showcases to brands actually lending helping hands towards the cause, purpose-led advertising has been taken to a whole new different level. The rule is about being authentic towards the cause endorsed. Says Raghu Bhat, Director, Scarecrow M&C Saatchi, “A brand espousing a cause is no longer a differentiator. In 2018, brands tried to go deeper and demonstrate their sincerity to the cause. In the quest for trust, even brand managers transformed into brand publishers and brand ambassadors. Also, once the selfie was about capturing perfection. The camera was an outsider, in front of whom you had to be at your best. But with the rise of self-love now, the camera is a buddy with whom you can share your raw self, warts and all.”

The power of programmatic technology and IoT

The discussion has been on for a long time now: IoT could potentially be the strongest ad network created yet. It's about the new advertising format that is more powerful than anything the market has seen. Ria Agnihotri, Associate Vice President, Geometry Encompass, argues that the ‘Internet of Things’ has become more and more relevant with it being able to connect different mediums, which primarily is, and can be further used, for different marketing touch-points.

“Voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant is a trend that has kick-started in 2018, and I am sure in the near future it will be present a lot more in the realm of advertising. Programmatic technology is shaping new opportunities and will create a space of its own, if it already hasn’t, to better targeted advertising across demographics. These voice assistants, in my opinion, can lead this space.”          

The evolving landscape of MarTech

Advertising is just one form of marketing and AdTech is just one form of MarTech. For Shrenik Gandhi, CEO and Co-Founder, White Rivers Media, the one trend that has facilitated disruption in advertising across brands, markets, and audiences, is the integrated use of Marketing Technology, or MarTech, as it is commonly referred to in the industry. Gandhi reasons that as brands look to sound more personable and less corporate, they're now seeking innovative methods and devices that let them communicate with consumers in a more subtle and seamless way.

“This works for marketers on the whole mainly because an unwitting audience is a more receptive audience - when you don't realise you're being advertised to, you're more likely to have an honest reaction rather than a sceptical response. This tech-driven marketing approach is smarter, simply because marketing powered by technology - Artifical Intelligence, Machine Learning, Internet of Things - lets us package branded content in a natural, organic facade. From something as common as a chat-bot, to something as novel as a customised Alexa conversation, MarTech is pervading numerous touch-points in our lives to increase the reach of advertising content,” he explains.

Gandhi summarises that while 2017 was the year when phones became exponentially smarter; 2018 is the year marketing becomes smarter!

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