Trends in the Digital Advertising Industry

Internet advertising has gone from an uncertain bet to serving as the primary platform for most companies’ marketing. In the U.S., the growth in digital advertising continues to grow by double digits on an annual revenue basis, with total spending reaching over $129 billion in 2019.

Mobile Advertising

While U.S. digital advertising has grown significantly, mobile advertising has been outpacing all other platforms.  In 2018, it accounted for 69.9% of all digital advertising. Holding a 33.9% share of all of the U.S. advertising spend, mobile will overtake TV, leading the ad space. That figure is projected to reach 47.9% by 2022. One of the key drivers of this is mobile commerce. 

Programmatic Marketing

This type of marketing is automated bidding on advertising inventory that happens in real-time. The reason it's talked about a great deal is that programmatic marketing, interchangeable with advertising, provides the opportunity to show an ad to a specific customer, in a specific context. Advertisers can create an automated buying plan based on the data offered on a cross-platform ad exchange, which introduces elements of financial trading to digital advertising. For example, a company may have a specific consumer in mind, like a mother who hasn’t purchased a vehicle in five years, and some of the platforms will have that demographic data and ads to sell.

In 2020, almost $70 billion will be allocated to programmatic marketing in the U.S. That's over a $10 billion dollar increase from 2019. What this translates into is that 86.3% of total U.S. digital display ads will be purchased through this automated marketing program in 2020. There's a certain level of reliance marketers have placed on programmatic because it delivers first, second, and third-party insights. Automation in advertising is indeed rising. 

Content Marketing

Content marketing is an old trend that has been made new yet again. Many advertisers have struggled to measure the effectiveness of banners and display ads on others’ content. Does an ad for Ford (F) on an article about how to choose a truck help with sales? How about brand recognition? These are questions that may never be answered to the satisfaction of the marketer or the publisher. For this reason, content marketing often serves as an attractive alternative.

Instead of serving up an ad, companies are embedding their marketing pitch inside the content itself. This can manifest in the form of publisher-tailored content, which the advertiser can sponsor, or content published directly by the advertiser. There are some caveats to a business spending time and money on content creation, but the success of several companies has given fresh legs to the “brands as publishers” movement. 

In 2018, trends for content marketing revolve around personalization, or the ability to make consumers feel as though you are speaking directly to them. Social media platforms have grown in sophistication to offer greater video capabilities. Twitter is a great example of this. The company placed its bets on live video, mainly wrapped around sporting events. In 2016, Twitter along with its advertising partners, created 600 hours of video for 400 events. Still growing its capabilities, in 2018, the social media platform inked a deal with Fox Sports to stream live shows wrapped around the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament - a first for Twitter. Video, in general, continues to lead content marketing strategies. According to PointVisible's report "Content Marketing 2018–Final Call for Boarding," 64% of consumers tend to make a purchase after watching online branded videos. 

The Bottom Line

Growth in the digital advertising industry will continue alongside innovation. The new level of demographic data and real-time bidding have killed the need for blind ad buys. People are also becoming increasingly jaded when it comes to advertising, forcing companies to couch their messages in creative ways. But, the future is bright for digital advertising.

Article Sources
Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. eMarketer. "US Digital Ad Spending 2019."

  2. eMarketer. "U.S. Mobile Ad Spend in 2019 Was Lower than Previously Estimated."

  3. eMarketer. "U.S. Digital Ad Spending 2019."

  4. eMarketer. "eMarketer: Mobile Ad Spending to Surpass TV in 2018."

  5. eMarketer. "Mobile Ad Spending to Surpass TV in 2018."

  6. eMarketer. "US Programmatic Ad Spending Forecast 2019."

  7. Twitter. "Q4 2016 Letter to Shareholders," Page 5.

  8. Twitter. "Twitter and FOX Sports Collaborate on 2018 FIFA World Cup™ Content."

  9. PointVisible. "Content Marketing 2018 Trends And Statistics – Final Call For Boarding."