A look into our crystal ball: 5 key trends to watch in 2017


This year, members of the IAB UK team have come together to discuss five key trends and what to look out for in 2017, covering creativity, data, video, mobile and the future of digital advertising.

Marketing Manager, Caroline Manson writes about the exciting world of digital creativity: Much has been done recently to educate advertisers on how to improve creative for digital, simple changes like creating portrait ads for mobiles, making video work without sound, and making great creative that people don’t want to block. A recent example from Netflix shows them serving ads to ad block users for their new release: Black Mirror. One might assume that ad block users would be annoyed by this but in fact, some really liked it. It just goes to show that the right creative to the right people can help get your ads seen as well as increase brand metrics. Digital devices are great platforms for creativity, with plenty of opportunities for your brand to reach and wow your customers, and with developments such as VR and AR it’s only going to get better! 

Senior Programmes Manager, Dee Frew tells us what to look out for in the data-sphere in 2017: Next year will continue the trend to de-emphasise the buzzword “programmatic” as it solidifies its position in every digital marketer’s vocabulary – it will simply become the way we work. More excitingly, though, we can expect to see more innovation and use cases that make intelligent optimisation of media and creative deployment as people get to grips with their data strategy. It’ll be an exciting time of discovery as programmatic branding campaigns become more sophisticated and premium brands embrace all the advantages that programmatic can deliver. 

Mobile and Video Manager, Mike Reynolds explains what he is excited about when it comes to video in 2017: We’ve seen from our own numbers that video spend is on the rise, increasing by a massive 69% since the first half of 2015 (Source: IAB / PWC Digital Adspend Study). This growth is in no small part down to Innovation in the video space which has opened up more opportunities for brands to get impactful and emotive video creative in front of their audiences.

Going into 2017, something which brands should be thinking about is making video that aligns with the different platforms and channels that have become engrained in the lives of the tech-savvy UK consumer.

Here are a few things to think about: 

  • Build mobile video for vertical viewing

  • Don’t rely on audio to get your message across

  • Build short form ads for short form content 

Chief Operations Officer, Jon Mew, gets excited about digital tech developments next year: In 2016, mobile became the biggest digital platform for consumers and for advertisers. Its growth shows no signs of slowing moving into 2017.

In 2017 the IAB will launch its new portfolio of responsive ad units. This means we should see even more brands creating tailored content for the platform, and more brands starting to think mobile first.

The tech powering the growth continues to improve particularly around location, cross-screen targeting and attribution. I’m most excited, though, about the hardware and software on handsets. Both continue to advance and next year my top three things to keep an eye on are:

  • VR and AR – who would have predicted the success of Pokemon GO this year? As well as entertaining millions, it made brands take notice of the power of AR and gamifying content. VR has started to touch the mainstream with decent affordable headsets. Judging by the Cannes Lions winners this year, brands are increasingly experimenting with VR and getting recognition for it.

  • Voice – Amazon Echo shows an interesting glimpse into how the future might look - connected devices that you can talk to and interact with through voice. Google shared this year that a massive 20% of all searches now have voice intent. And perhaps the best Bellwether of all, the Internet overlord Mary Meeker dedicated 21 pages of her report on voice recognition.

  • AI – Artificial Intelligence is improving advertising targeting and delivery, but what it will do for consumers remains really exciting and could improve digital exponentially. It will be a very interesting year to watch the growth of personal assistants and see how brands interact with them through concepts like chatbots.

CEO, Guy Phillipson shares his predictions for the future of the tech world and the digital ad industry: Advances in digital are going to completely rewire marketing. In the near future, we can expect to achieve that golden promise of highly targeted and relevant ads married with measurability which we could only dream about 10 years ago.

Firstly, advertising will be all about screens. Some big - like cinema, outdoor and TV - but our most frequent and interactive experience will be with the ubiquitous smartphone, which will one day account for the majority of total ad spend. And the most compelling format will be video (surprise, surprise). But expect to be producing five-second ads, silent ads, and vertical ads as the norm.

Secondly, sophisticated use of the advertisers’ customer (first-party) data, and chosen partners’ second party data – complete with location, time and weather data, will herald an era of super-efficient advertising, which will be guaranteed ‘viewable’.

Finally, we can expect campaigns to be live-tracked by dynamic optimisation tools not just for targeting, delivery and cost, but according to local footfall and online or offline sales.

Sounds like a media wet dream? Better get the creative right!

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