What to Know About Emerging Marketing Trends, According to eMarketer’s Chief Content Officer

Geoff Ramsey discusses virtual reality, voice and digital video

Geoff Ramsey of eMarketer spoke about trends at ANA Masters of Marketing Week.
Headshot of Diana Pearl

The world is changing—that isn’t news. Thanks to technology, jobs are disappearing, new ones are being created, and new products are changing the way we do even the most minute everyday tasks. And of course, it’s changing how we advertise, too.

At this year’s ANA Masters of Marketing Week, Geoff Ramsey, chief content officer and co-founder of eMarketer, gave a presentation about the hottest emerging trends that are set to shake up the marketing industry. If you couldn’t be at Ramsey’s Orlando talk in person, we’ve rounded up the biggest revelations from his chat about marketing trends and changes below.

Facebook and Google control the lion’s share of the digital advertising market.

This, of course, isn’t news either. But what’s staggering is how much of the market they control compared to other major media brands. Snapchat, for example, has 0.6 percent of the market share, while Facebook has 20.6 percent and Google has 37.1 percent, while Twitter is at just 1 percent.

But don’t count out Amazon. 

Though fellow tech juggernaut Amazon only controls 4.1 percent—according to Ramsey, that’s the third highest percentage after the big two—it’s growing fast. In 2018, Amazon’s digital ad revenue is expected to grow a whopping 144.5 percent, to $4.61 billion, up from last year’s $1.88 billion. Ramsey says this is, in part, thanks to Amazon’s programmatic ad buying.

Digital video may be growing, but it hasn’t dwarfed TV just yet.

Seventy-five percent of the average time an adult watches video per day is still spent watching television, according to an eMarketer study. It’s how we watch TV that’s changing, Ramsey said, thanks to the growing popularity of services like Netflix and HBO Now, and devices such as Roku and Apple TV. The bad news for marketers? These changes are making consumers more likely to try and avoid ads; 58 percent of people are more likely to stream programming to their TVs in an effort to avoid ads.

And the trend toward streaming isn’t going away: 52 percent of time adults spend viewing TV content is through streaming, according to IAB, while the percentage of people who pay for cable TV is shrinking every year. By 2022, the number of OTT (over the top) television viewers (watching through the use of websites like Netflix and Hulu) is expected to surpass pay TV viewership.

And the ad market hasn’t caught up.

All signs point to a shift toward OTT that will eventually surpass traditional television, and marketers need to make the shift, too. This year, ad spending on broadcast and cable will add up to $69.87 billion, while digital video (including streaming platforms) is at $27.82 billion, according to eMarketer. And the study predicts that even by 2022, the digital video ad market will still be lagging behind. However, it’s not OTT TV that’s making the majority of digital video ad spending now—it’s social media. Ramsey says we can expect to see that change in the coming years.  “That’s the big kahuna now,” Ramsey said of social media video. “But watch for OTT and connected TV to start rising fast.”

The video ad market is changing rapidly, but brands can keep up. Said Ramsey: “There’s a bunch of obstacles, but they will be overcome.”

AI will bring a tidal wave of change.

We’re already hearing about and seeing what that change will be, but Ramsey elaborated during his ANA presentation on how it will affect marketers in particular. Five in six Americans already own a product or use a service that works with some sort of artificial intelligence, whether that’s Amazon’s Echo or Apple’s Siri. But Ramsey says the real power it’ll give marketers is the opportunity to further personalize a brand experience for a consumer. “It’s capable of parsing massive, gazillion amounts of data that no human can possibly do,” he said. With that data, companies can design experiences that better fit a consumer’s needs. It’s no longer a mobile-first world, said Ramsey. It’s an AI-first world.

That includes the rise of voice.

Devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home are only the beginning, and we haven’t yet seen their full potential, Ramsey said. “What is driving surge in voice-activated devices?” he said. “It’s very obvious. It’s because you don’t have to text. You don’t have to type, you just talk. Talking is easier than putting your hands on your keyboard.” Voice-activated products will help people to buy goods and services—28.2 percent of people already use their Echo to do so, according to eMarketer.

For brands, it should be seen as a utility, not another place to put ads. Ramsey said that it can be a great place to increase brand engagement, pointing to partnerships like Capital One’s with Amazon, and allow users to connect with a brand in a new way.

AR and VR are moving into the mainstream.

Just as voice is becoming a bigger part of our technology, so are augmented and virtual reality. And it can’t be ignored: Only 15.5 percent of people use it now, but that number is set to grow to 20 percent by 2020. “That’s pretty significant growth,” said Ramsey.

This is an area that marketers haven’t yet made a major splash in, Ramsey said, citing studies that show only 5 to 12 percent of American companies are using in it in their marketing. Snapchat is likely one of the best known—think of their AR-powered filters, like a partnership with Taco Bell that put an image of a taco over a person’s face using facial recognition technology.

For AR, VR and many of these other growing trends, it’s about embracing something as a standard in today’s world. As Ramsey said: “In the here and now, we need to pay attention to this. There’s a huge pivot in the novelty of the cool effect to actual utility.”


@dianapearl_ diana.pearl@adweek.com Diana is the deputy brands editor at Adweek and managing editor of Brandweek.
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