The Trends and Topics Shaping the Future of Advertising

26th April 2021

Advertising in 2030 will be fundamentally different to how it has been for the past 10 years.

Of course, we accept that for the most part, the same tried and tested methods will continue to work for a while yet – entrenched approaches don’t change overnight.

But individuals and organizations that fail to adapt over time will gradually fade out of relevance. They will slowly become less equipped to support and grow their employees, to help them in their careers and, therefore, the business they are part of.

As customers increasingly embrace digital platforms, the challenge is on.

The challenge is on for business owners to embrace the changes in advertising over the coming years. Doing so enables us to remain relevant and able to foster enduring relationships with customers in cost-efficient ways.

“All failure is failure to adapt, all success is successful adaptation” – Max McKeown

The Trends and Topics Shaping the Future of Advertising

The one thing I will say before I get into these trends is that they are exactly that…

It is critical we monitor how advertising evolves, but a lot of these topics are fueled by folklore.

These topics change as the facts become clearer. We are in danger, as an industry, of creating that folklore through loud herd debate, which then becomes misunderstood fact.

It is our job as an agency to monitor these topics, contribute positively to the conversation, establish our own stance through investments and ensure we can support our clients as the future becomes clearer.

But be in no doubt – these trends and topics are driving the future of advertising and we need to embrace the conversation.

Marketing Clouds

Marketing clouds will become indispensable elements in the advertising processes of the future. They control the creation and management of marketing relationships with your customers and manage campaigns.

This is already best practice, but it will become standard to integrate solutions for customer journey management, email, mobile, social, web personalization, advertising, content handling and analytics.

Artificial Intelligence

AI is ubiquitous in the advertising space. It supports our decision-making and analyzes consumer behaviour.

Enriched with data about how consumers interact with advertising, it substantially optimizes campaigns to perform better. Implemented consistently and to its full extent, AI understands consumers better than they do themselves.

This is very clearly tied to the performance improvements that we have seen in recent years by increasing our adoption of AI within campaigns.

The large tech vendors will continue to embrace artificial intelligence because of the opportunity to scale and, in the future, perform better than humans.

As an agency, we will spend less time in the future on the implementation of administration (eg search query reports) and more time on strategic conversations with our clients to support their business growth.


Programmatic will be standard for digital advertising. It is also the future of more traditional advertising methods.

Think first-party data collected through radio stations (like Sonos radio) and how that could be used over time for programmatic purchasing of audio.

It’s already used for TV and outdoor. Expect to see this more.


Digital advertising is predominantly contextual. This will grow – cohort advertising, for example, is still contextual.

Ads will be selected and placed by automated systems, based on ever more detailed user-profiles and the content displayed. There will be a continued increase in mobile and location-based advertising, which will strengthen this trend.

Consolidation of Adtech

The fragmented supplier landscape within adtech will consolidate. Large adtech players will acquire almost all their smaller but highly specialized competitors that manage to evolve.

Alternatively – and more likely in my view – is that these smaller vendors will be rendered redundant through policy and legislation evolution.

The desire for improved services, additional scale and more first-party data will be the main driver behind any M&A activity.

Working With the Right People

The agency model is changing and the type of people we need in our agency will change over time too. Client-side, supplier-side, agency-side – everyone will be competing for the same kind of job profiles.

It will create a battle for the best talent and create a requirement to deliver the best training.

Employers will compete for experts with scarce, specialized skill sets.

As is the case now, agencies and vendors will be breeding grounds for some of the best talent and we have a responsibility to embrace that change and train people in their careers to create the best outcome for clients, but also the best opportunities for our colleagues in the future.

Demand for data scientists, analytics experts and creative minds is huge at present and will remain high or become more competitive in the future.

The Decline of Linear TV

After print, traditional linear TV will lose its importance.

Large digital platform companies generate similar reach through video-on-demand, social or messaging functionalities.

This reach combined with first-party data and artificial intelligence will create incredibly efficient opportunities to reach audiences at scale through digital platforms.


About Adapt

Digital performance marketing, analytics & consultancy for growth-minded brands.

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