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The advertising and promotion industry has evolved a long way from the garish banner ads of the mid-1990s. It’s now easier than ever to reach one’s audience online, and this year we’re seeing more adtech businesses focused on making online advertising more targeted and measurable than ever before.

In the present day, even sub-segments of the advertising industry can be incredibly lucrative for marketers. Simply by leveraging the roughly 3.5 billion searches happening every day on Google, marketers can immediately gain access to a segmented, extensive pool of potential customers. Despite the potential for massive reach, though, it’s often challenging to keep track of what’s happening in the industry. In this article, we’ll be sharing the key trends and players within each sub-segment of the online advertising and promotion industry.

1. Mobile marketing

With consumers making online purchases through their mobile devices more than ever, mobile marketing has become a mainstay of the online advertising toolkit. And it’s taking up an increasing portion of organizational marketing spend, too. Recent research has shown that mature marketing organizations now spend 22% of their budget on mobile marketing. This is up significantly from even ten years ago, when mobile marketing was only starting to gain steam as a high-ROI tactic.

Mobile marketing is the best way to reach potential customers on the go, and it’s a must-have if you’re running an online ecommerce business. There are now dozens of platforms dedicated solely to running mobile marketing campaigns, and each of them offer unique capabilities. Braze is an all-in-one mobile marketing solution that is primarily focused on customer engagement and upsell. It offers features like push notifications, in-app advertising, and email marketing. Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud is more focused on trigger-based engagement with prospects, and it also offers the option for brands to do SMS marketing based on their existing prospect database. Urban Airship is another great mobile marketing platform to consider — it’s billed as a comprehensive solution, offering everything from mobile app engagement tactics to predictive analytics.

2. Display and programmatic advertising

Programmatic display advertising is one of the fastest-growing areas in digital marketing, with total marketing spend on programmatic displays estimated to cross 84% of all display ad spending this year.

US programmatic digital display ad spending from 2015 to 2019

Instead of negotiating with a salesperson, programmatic advertising involves using software to procure digital advertising space. Once ad space has been acquired, marketers then have to bid against competitors to serve an ad (only the highest bidder gets to serve an ad). This process repeats itself millions of times daily, giving businesses plenty of opportunities to ensure their ads are seen. And when they are seen, the impact can be significant. In fact, research has shown that simply appearing in mobile ad results can increase brand awareness by 46%.

In the programmatic display advertising space, there are hundreds of competitors, but AdRoll is one of the true heavyweights. It uses customer intelligence data to enable highly specific targeting and gives users an easy to use digital advertising platform that also supports cross-channel outreach efforts. Match2One is another powerful programmatic advertising platform that offers advanced reporting capabilities as well as access to premium ad inventory. For small-to-medium sized businesses, there’s also Choozle and PocketMath. Both are self-service platforms that also support buying mobile display inventory.

3. Search and social advertising

Given that social media platforms now take up 33% of the time consumers spend online, it makes sense that marketers are increasingly turning towards it as a key tactic in their toolkit. This trend is similar in the search arena as well, which allows marketers to match their brand messaging to specific search categories. Where search marketing benefits from relevancy, social advertising benefits from ubiquity. Marketers can now deploy advertising across an ever-increasing range of social platforms, and ensure their messaging is seen only by prospects with an expressed interest in one’s brand.

For most companies, Google Ads is the platform of choice for search advertising — particularly given that most of the world’s search traffic passes through Google. Bing Ads is still a viable platform, but for most businesses, Google Ads remains the gold standard.

On the social advertising front, the landscape is more fragmented, so marketers should be cognizant of which platforms their prospects congregate on before investing. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and many other platforms all offer their own social advertising platforms — generally with targeting and analytics capabilities built in.

4. Native content advertising

Native content advertising involves placing ads directly into the natural flow of the user experience in a way that both benefits the consumer and the brand. Examples of native advertising include content recommendation widgets, sponsored content, promoted search listings, and in-feed native advertisements. Native advertising is a type of content marketing that has seen explosive growth in recent years. In fact, recent research estimated native ads made up more than 60% of display ad spend in 2018.

One of the most popular native advertising platforms is Outbrain. It acts first and foremost as a discovery platform that helps marketers find the best platforms and publishers for their content. Outbrain then collects interaction data throughout the customer lifecycle, and uses it to improve ad recommendations for marketers. Another tool that’s widely used for native content advertising is Taboola. It’s a platform that is focused more on growing traffic, but it’s also useful for tracking ad conversions as well. Other leading native advertising platforms include Yahoo’s Gemini, AdNow, and mobile-first content platform ShareThrough.

5. Video advertising

Video advertising is a widely-used tactic for delivering rich media to potential consumers. While the ads themselves are often run on video hosting sites like YouTube, the purchases of those ads are conducted through video advertising networks. Video advertising is rapidly becoming an area of focus for marketers, particularly given that up to 80% of global internet consumption will be through video content this year.

Two of the largest players on the video advertising front are SelectMedia and SpringServe. Both are programmatic video advertising platforms that offer self-service analytics and ad buying tools to help publishers increase the ROI on their video content. Many corporate customers have also started gravitating towards Google’s AdSense for Videos and Oath’s intelligent ad platform – both of whom are established competitors in the market and offer a wide selection of ad inventory.

6. PR

Digitally tracking the impact of PR content is still a nascent industry, but more platforms are entering the space every day. Recent research has shown that 73% of journalists now scour the web daily for press releases and news about companies they’re covering. This statistic represents a significant opportunity to brands ready to capitalize on what often turns out to be a captive audience.

Some of the top online PR platforms currently are Meltwater, TrendKite, and Marketwired. All of these platforms offer similar capabilities in terms of quantifying the impact of an organization’s PR efforts. These platforms all come with their own PR analytics stack, as well as the ability to add additional media sources for measuring engagement.

7. Print

Print advertising obviously exists primarily in the physical world, but there are ways to integrate it into your online campaigns as well. Leveraging QR codes or short, trackable URLs can be a great way to quantify the impact of your print media campaigns, and with tools like Bizible and Google Analytics, doing so is now easier than ever before.

Conclusion

With so many advertisers competing online, tools like these will help you optimize for better ad placement and higher conversion. Using these platforms together with owned and earned media will give you a much better chance of success in getting prospects to learn more about your brand.

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