From A to I – Amazon to interchangeability: A guide to the future of advertising today

In 2007 Joel Davis founded Europe's first social media agency, agency:2. The agency has rapidly grown to become an award-winning business with a wide range of leading global clients including Mattel, Microsoft, Sony, Turner and Hillarys. Joel Davis is also co-founder and CEO of Mighty Social, a social ad tech company that takes social ad performance to the next level. Mighty Social creates leading edge digital strategies that push the boundaries of what brands can achieve with innovative social media advertising. Mighty Social has won the Red Herring 100 Europe for the last two years for their use of a patent-pending AI super-tool - The Atom - that is building smarter custom audiences at scale. They are also classed as one of the FT1000 Europe’s Fastest Growing companies.

Digital transformation has reframed advertising and marketing to such an extent that the once familiar reference points no longer exist.  Which is why we decided to deep dive into our learnings to date to extrapolate how we believe the next decade of advertising and marketing will shape up.

From ultra-personalised as in ‘Minority Report’ to a constant stream of data fed straight into our consciousness as in the futuristic film ‘Her’, one thing is for sure, advertising, as we know it, is well and truly dead.

As we transition from an addiction to TV to an online world with billions of viewpoints, coming to terms with all the opportunities we now have to co-create, join the conversation, engage and interact requires taking a leap into the great unknown.

One thing is for certain. There is no point clinging to any vestige of the past – it will only hold us back.

The context

One of the key challenges the advertising world faces is the negative associations around ‘personal data’.  People are increasingly concerned with the misuse of their data, leading to a reticence to share and a consumer superiority to own their data and ensure they are in control of it. More than ever, businesses need to show they are acting responsibly with personal data and take consumers seriously when it comes to protecting it.

Conversely, there is an increased expectation for hyper-personalisation and a need for consumers to eliminate ads that are not relevant to them. Consumers now expect greater control during the entire user journey. With ever more present ways for consumers to block unwanted content brands are having to find new ways to not only deliver a high volume of ads, but to ensure they are being seen by the right people at the right time. 

As a consequence, ad content and delivery needs to continually adapt and remain flexible.

Engaging the future consumer

Of course, everything comes back to the consumer, what they want, how they want it and when they want it are absolutely key. The likes of retargeting, which not so long ago seemed so important, now falls short of the mark. Today’s consumer moves on too quickly and gets bored too easily. Regardless of which digital channel an interaction takes place on, retargeting needs to advance beyond current limitations and target users based on the individual creative they engage with.

We now have generation D, which is made up of people of any age who are familiar with digital technology. This new cohort has a completely different set of consumer behaviours and unique ways of consuming content. Is this the new norm: where consumers range in age and shop across a variety of platforms? Where their second screen behaviour is completely different and will change the face of browsing?

Meanwhile, 75% of gen Zs, are ‘celebrity networkers’. They are 24% more likely to use social media to follow celebrities, TV presenters and actors, suggesting an interest in the opinions of influential people.  Brands now have more opportunities to reach this audience via influencer marketing, a trend which has grown hugely in popularity and will continue to evolve.

However, just as we start to familiarise ourselves with influencers, we now see a rise in micro-influencers which requires an entirely new kind of marketing strategy.

So, what does the future look like?  

The rising importance of transparency

We will need to learn how to properly obtain consent and be more transparent about how we use personal data to provide the experiences that users demand. Creating interactions between brand and consumer that don’t infringe on a user’s freedom and privacy is essential as we navigate the future. Expect to see a big shift in the importance of transparency; those who are not on board, will be left behind.

Emphasis on the role of social and paid media

Using Native Advertising to reach people through content that is meaningful and impactful will continue to rise, while ads that are sales orientated are set to decrease. The shape of ads is changing.

Video takes the lead

The use of video will continue to disrupt the way we consume media. 1200% more shares are generated by social videos, than text and images combined. In addition, Marketers who use video grow revenue 49% faster than non-video users.

Further personalisation and optimisation

With greater personalisation comes the need for greater control – for the user. For tomorrow’s ads to be relevant users want more freedom to choose what they see and when they see it. User journeys will become more personalised and optimised based on real-time interactions.

The need for distinct custom audiences will grow, with targeting becoming more sophisticated and consumers only interacting with messages that are hyper-relevant to them.

Collection and categorisation will take place across a range of digital media platforms and audience insights, built from the likes of social listening, will be accurately analysed to deliver enhanced campaign optimisation.

Louder, slicker and more disruptive

Fierce competition and shorter attention spans will mean brands have to work harder and more efficiently to be heard. Innovation will drive new formats and new ways to deliver ads, such as Augmented and Virtual Reality to enhance engagement, personalisation and overall UX.

Expect to see big, disruptive campaigns as well as those designed with the goal of creating social purpose and supporting social causes.

AI-based advertising

AI and deep learning solutions will rise, increasing efficiency, productivity and higher customer satisfaction and leveraging insights and data to achieve these ambitions. As we move into the future this will become the norm rather than the exception. We are already beginning to see greater adoption of AI based advertising, with chatbots rising in popularity. AI allows greater customisation and delivery at the right place and time, as well as a new level of predictive advertising.

Using interchangeable mediums

We will start to see new mediums being used and an integration of experience. For example, we will need to understand new channels such as Connected TV in order to drive a new and improved way of reaching users of streamed TV. Or look further to voice recognition technology, which may eliminate text-based search enquiries in the future.  

Amazon advertising

With physical retail shops on the decline and an uber competitive marketplace, knowing how to navigate this ever more powerful retailer is growing in importance. It will become necessary to find those users on Amazon who express genuine interest in purchase and find ways to give brands more control over their relationship to the platform, to dramatically improve conversion rates.


Those brands who take risks to drive new and exciting creative solutions will most likely get ahead of the pack. Their content strategies will need to be adept and innovative as they continually develop original customer experiences.

The smart agencies will be those who develop sophisticated measurement capabilities across channels and use analytical tools that accurately measure ROI of cross-channel advertising that create a full funnel experience.

Whatever the future has in store it is bound to be eye-opening, mind-blowing and very exciting.

Editor's note: Elise Mendelle, creative director at Mighty Social, also made a significant contribution to this article. 

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person?

Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.  

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