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Pathmatics Blog
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Digital Advertising Trends to Plan For in 2018

December 20 2017 by Jordan Kramer

Most advertisers have annual planning on the brain.

Some have already wrapped up shiny, new 2018 advertising strategies, while others are still busy mapping out creative ideas. 

Regardless, we used Pathmatics’ digital ad intelligence to analyze year-over-year data and identify growing trends. Below are four key ones to keep an eye on in 2018, and potentially integrate into your own strategy.

1. Video Is King

The numbers don’t lie. Thus far in 2017, top advertisers allocated more budget to desktop video than any other ad format. Apple Inc. spent over $147 million on desktop video, followed (not closely) by desktop display, mobile video and finally mobile display. That’s more than half Apple’s total ad spend (67%) on desktop video alone! 

What’s more, Apple saw the return on its video investment. Sixty-two percent of all impressions were generated through desktop video (7.6 billion).


Other big spenders in 2017 video advertising include Geico ($109 million), Wix.com ($84 million) and Procter & Gamble ($71 million).

It’s clear that video will continue to dominate across all channels in 2018. Plan accordingly.

2. Native Advertising Proves Less Intrusive

Consumers no longer tolerate in-your-face, self-serving advertising. Their favorite brands cater to their interests and needs with educational content and useful offers—when and where they search for it.

It’s no wonder that native advertising is quickly becoming an integral part of every branded ad strategy. In fact, Business Insider reported that, “Native ads will drive 74% of all ad revenue by 2021.”

This includes native ads featured on social media as well as on publisher websites. If you’ve yet to experiment with native ads, the time is now to start blending in and provide more contextual offers. 

3. Brands Prioritize Targeting

Brands are shaping campaigns that speak to a defined buyer, at key stages in the buying cycle. 

Hence, the need for strategic ad placement and purposeful targeting is greater than ever. It’s likely a key reason why most advertisers continue to prefer direct ad buys in 2017 (82% of advertisers, in fact). When buying direct, advertisers can predict exactly where ads are going to be seen, and therefore, can be confident in corresponding viewership. 

A prime example: Between January and November of this year, Procter & Gamble spent more than $78 million on advertising with Walmart.com. Procter & Gamble can be certain that Walmart’s typical buyer will need one (or more) of its products at some point.

On the flip side, indirect buys can be more of a gamble. That said, we’re expecting more and more advertisers to experiment with indirect advertising in 2018. 

Why? Because the data is telling a different story. 

While 82% of all ad spend was direct, only 45% of impressions were direct. Share of impressions for indirect buys hit 42%—even though spend share only reached 13%.

As ad networks get even smarter, we expect more and more advertisers will experiment with indirect advertising.


4.  Transparency Takes Center Stage

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) reported an astounding $7.2 billion in ad fraud during 2016. Luckily, that number is finally coming down this year. In the new report, the ANA said, “...the economic losses due to bot fraud are estimated to reach $6.5 billion globally in 2017.” 

While improvements are being made, that’s still a significant sum. And thanks to new digital ad intelligence tools, advertisers can avoid the possibility of ad fraud and more confidently experiment with programmatic buys.   

Advertisers can use ad intelligence to audit activity, and ensure creatives are truly running on intended sites through the most efficient channel.


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About Author
Jordan Kramer

An out-of-the-box thinker with a love for disruptive ideas, Jordan's background spans PR and events for the wedding & hospitality industry in Los Angeles and Scottsdale and also launching one of America's most unique food trucks. She jumped from the food start-up scene to the tech start-up scene in 2013 to join one of the most unique companies in ad tech. Jordan is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.

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