A year ago we were in the midst of a global pandemic, locked down, awaiting a chaotic presidential election and the hoped for arrival of a vaccine. The past year has certainly been eventful. As marketers we had to adapt to the “new normal” of a changed world, rethinking our strategy, audiences, and delivery. The advertising landscape has evolved rapidly and continues to do so. The following are some of the current advertising trends we have been watching and implementing for our clients.

AI and Programmatic

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Programmatic advertising are not new. However, they have become much more common. To the point that it is very hard to advertise digitally without their influence. The algorithms behind AI and programmatic allow for very sophisticated real time analysis of data. It provides a far better understanding of behaviors and trends than humans ever could. Using data analysis to buy advertising on a programmatic auctions means targeting precise audiences across many platforms, and a much better ROI. By the end of this year, it is believed that 88% of all display advertising will be programmatic.


Today’s consumer expects quick and knowledgeable response to their queries. And, businesses are trying to give consumers what they want. After the past year and a half, people want interaction. Those forces continue the growth of chatbots. With increased machine learning bots can provide more information than ever seemlessly. It is estimated that over 80% of all businesses incorporate a chatbot. And with good reason. They are always available, personalized, polite, and able to answer most questions.


Personalization is another trend on the rise. We are all used to getting email that addresses us by name. Even customized subject lines. But personalization goes beyond that. By using data of our purchasing habits advertisers are able to serve customized ads. You go into your favorite chain drug store and buy cough syrup. The next day you get ads for tissues. A little bit creepy but also potentially useful. And for the advertiser, very targeted delivery. Vidyard went even further serving videos to people with their name written on a white board in the video. Then they incorporated the targets name into the voiceover. We know people lose interest in ads in eight seconds on average. I am sure that personalized ad held the viewer far longer!


Mobile advertising continues to grow at a breakneck pace. The device that saw the largest growth during the pandemic was the smart phone. No surprise that advertisers are reacting. The “story” format is growing on social media. Now Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, LinkedIn and YouTube have adopted the format. Why, because it keeps viewers engaged longer.

In-game advertising is growing as more people play games on their phones. Sure, it is annoying to watch a :30 second ad in the middle of your favorite game but what are you going to do? Quit the game or wait it out so you can continue? It is the price of being able to play quality games for free. Expect developers and brands to find even more ways to interact. Similarly, advertising in messaging apps continues to increase.

And no mention of mobile can take place without acknowledging the role of video. The growth in video viewership is driven in large part by mobile. Most social media is consumed on the phone, and video is a staple on those platforms. Now, most content is now developed for mobile. Creating in portrait mode is outdated. The vertical 9:6 ratio is here to stay.

Crumbling Cookies

For digital marketers the disappearance of the cookie has already impacted advertising. And that has demanded a re-think of how we target. For years, leaving a cookie on a web browser was the lynchpin of digital advertising. No longer. Privacy laws have gotten stricter. Apple eliminated cookies from its operating systems. Google followed suit, but is phasing cookies out over time.

This has required marketers to gather as much first party data as possible. With first-party data brands have direct access to prospects and customers. They can use that data to create client avatars and target those who match that profile. Other work-arounds include targeting audiences based on platforms and working with publishers and other partners to share first party data.

Current Advertising Trends

Some of these trends will be with us for a while, becoming a way of life. Others may get replaced by still better mechanisms. As advertising becomes more intertwined with technology changes are sure to happen quickly and often. It is easy to get caught up in the “latest and greatest” trend, only to see its impact come and go overnight. But, as change continues we must remain aware of current advertising trends and understand how they affect is.