The Future of Advertising: Mobile, Ultra-Connected, Data-Driven & Consumer-Controlled

The chaotic overabundance of ads in New York City’s Times Square represents an outdated, ineffective form of advertising. It has become the center of the interruption advertising universe.

Times Square belongs in a museum for this reason aloneeven though this form of advertising is still widely embraced. Interruption advertising has marketers pushing out their messages in hopes of capturing consumers’ attention. It’s become so pervasive that consumers are interrupted by an ad more than 5,000 times every day. At best, they’ve become immune to this form of marketing. At worst, they’ve become hostile to it. Either way, they’re extremely adept at blocking it out.

Today’s consumers live in an era of connectivity and choice. People are becoming more connected with each other and their overall ecosystem, giving them greater control over what content they consume. To reach consumers in this new era, brands must become familiar with the following trends.


Most U.S. consumers rely on a smartphone to communicate with each other and navigate daily life. Thanks to the ubiquity and power of smartphones, people will develop a new schema for consuming video content.

According to comScore, 176 million people in the U.S. have smartphones (for approximately 73-percent mobile market penetration). And just one smartphone possesses more computing power than NASA had when it put a man on the moon.

And just one smartphone possesses more computing power than NASA had when it put a man on the moon.

The smartphone serves as the consumer’s remote controlallowing him to switch between pieces of content; televisions are becoming projectors that display the content; broadband providers are becoming the connection consumers use to get their content.

Smartphones will also shape the three main ways consumers find content.

  1. A small handful of apps they regularly use
  2. On-Demand searches for specific information
  3. Curators serving up content based on their specific interests and online activities

*RELATED: Smartphones have become so prolific, it’s essential that marketers develop a mobile strategy sooner rather than later.

Internet of Things & the Phydigital Existence

Although smartphones are the main device helping people get through life, they won’t be the only ones. Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), consumers will be able to connect and customize more of the objects they interact with on a daily basis.

In time, these connected things will customize themselves based on data collected about the owner’s behavior. The data accumulated by devices connected to the IoT will form each person’s digital identity. To get an idea of the scope of information collected, here is a sample of what will form a consumer’s digital identity.

  • TV shows watched
  • Articles read
  • Places traveled
  • Information shared on social networks
  • Products purchased (online and offline)

True to its portmanteau name, phydigital existence represents consumers’ physical and digital worlds merging, and the massive amounts of information amassed as a result. Much of this data will be available to advertisers, leading to benefits for marketers and consumers.

Data Management Platforms Store Advertising DNA

Data gathered by smartphones and devices connected to the IoT will allow advertisers to target people, not vague demographics, which will boost the effectiveness of their marketing dollars. Each consumer will have her own unique ID. That ID and associated information will be stored in a data management platform (DMP).

Marketers will be able to access this data when purchasing media or anytime they communicate with the consumers they can identify across any of their marketing touch points, including website, call center or in-store point of sale. In the meantime, large corporations such as Procter & Gamble, Kellogg’s and Netflix already realize the importance of DMPs and have either built or acquired their own platforms.

*RELATED: Marketers and their agencies are starting to use data-driven programmatic buying to purchase TV, print and content discovery.

Relevance Revolution

Consumer IDs and associated data stored in DMPs will help brands serve more relevant ads to their audiences. Of course, this increased relevance will be a win-win for marketers and consumers.

To be relevant, brands’ messages must be different from traditional advertisements. Instead of interruptive noise, these messages should present useful, engaging information via content marketing or native advertising. After determining what sort of content to produce, including short how-to guides, long-form personal stories amongst other stories, brands must determine the best format for these stories, like a video or article for example. This requires them to discover how consumers wish to consume that type of content in the first place.

New Privacy

Some people may balk at the idea of so much of their personal data being collected and used by advertisers. It’s true that consumers are exchanging some control over their data for more relevant, useful ads. However, thanks to social media, consumers have the power to publicly call out and punish brands that misuse their information. The massive backlash over the Target data breach is just one example of this.

Golden Age of Consumer Control

Consumers are gaining more control over the ads that reach them. Thanks to smartphones and other technology, they will soon be able to “choose the world that knows me” and customize their life experience. In response, brands need to produce either useful or entertaining ads their audiences want to see. Otherwise, marketers could be penalized or voted down. For example, Facebook made an algorithm change in early 2015 that penalizes brands for overly promotional posts.

Thanks to smartphones and other technology, [consumers] will soon be able to ‘choose the world that knows me’ and customize their life experience.

This unprecedented level of control means consumers will increasingly view advertising as a product. Ads will have to meet quality standards if they’re to get past consumers’ defenses. Otherwise, they’ll become expensive, overlooked background noise — just like the ads on Times Square.

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Ryan Derrow
Ryan Derrow

Ryan is Vice President of Media at Empower MediaMarketing, one of the largest independent media agencies in the country. His team plans and executes integrated and programmatic media for clients like Bush's Beans, Dremel, Famous Footwear, LasikPlus, and Rust-Oleum.