Emerging digital trends of 2014

Currently, two in every nine people own a smart phone and 6% of the world’s population use a tablet. It’s easy to forget that just over a decade ago the technology we now use just didn’t exist and the most exciting thing to hit our TV screens was Freeview.

Now digital technology is increasingly becoming a feature of everyday life for people worldwide. With Google Glass due for release in the UK this year, mobiles speeding up and consumers owning several devices for work and play, responding smartly to a rapidly changing market place is crucial for advertisers.

Advertisers are being forced to alter the way they are targeting customers, harnessing advanced digital technology to ensure they reach customers more effectively.

In 2014, innovative data-driven advertising is shaping the way brands communicate with consumers and here are some key trends and services to look out for:

TV advertising

Sky AdSmart is a breakthrough for targeted TV advertising. The service enables advertisers to target campaigns more accurately by matching adverts to a household’s postcode and demographic information, derived from Sky’s own customer data and third parties such as Experian. Although major household names including Tesco, American Airlines, Littlewoods and Audi have signed up to the service, the technology means that many small and medium sized businesses who may have been wary of TV advertising in the past can engage customers in a way that wasn’t previously accessible to them. This is because Sky AdSmart is so specifically targeted, that wastage no longer becomes an issue. For example, restaurants or car dealerships wanting to boost business no longer have to invest in an national Sky campaign, but can instead buy a cheaper package locally that targets the exact demographic they are aiming for, making the tailored adverts more informative and useful for the viewer.

Personalised TV viewing is a trend many brands are buying into and it continues to evolve. The advent of multi-view TVs, allowing viewers to watch different shows simultaneously when wearing special polarising glasses that set off data signals, provides another platform for advertisers to target customers with filtered adverts based on viewing preferences. For example, in a similar way to liking ‘America’s Next Top Model’ on Facebook prompts targeted adverts into your feed, advertisers can use data transmitted by polarising glasses to predict that a customer watching the show will be interested in beauty and hair products. Whilst multi-view TVs come with an expensive price tag (on average over £6,000), it gives an interesting insight into how hyper-targeted advertising may reach customers in the future.

Mobile and video advertising

Mobile phones should be at the core of every brand’s advertising strategy. With Facebook announcing profits tripling from mobile advertising alone and Meeker reporting that smartphone users check their phones an average of 150 times a day, it is an area that is swiftly becoming a priority for brands.

With mobile technology constantly evolving, opportunities for advertisers are developing almost as quickly. Soon to be available across all mobile platforms, 4G technology will enable users to watch mobile videos faster than ever before, representing a major opportunity for brands. Mobile advertising giants, such as InMobi are already creating advanced video advertising formats designed to create an immersive experience for customers. Although marketing studies have shown 15-30 second videos to be too long, brands like Pepsi and General Mills are starting to generate full-length mobile adverts. As customers become more comfortable watching content on smartphones and tablets, brands are using the opportunity to tell their stories in more detail, helping to create deeper engagement with consumers.


Targeted ‘personalisation’ tactics are becoming more popular with big brands, including Gap, which has now personalised its web presence and experience for shoppers based on browsing history and where they live. Online, this means creating tailored landing pages linked to interests. In store, a pilot program is being launched in a small group of sister brand Banana Republic stores, that will encourage customers to identify themselves when walking into the store, either through a smart phone app, email address or phone number. Despite concerns around how Gap would use this data, it has said it will be an ‘opt in’ only service, and customers will be incentivised to sign up by being offered deals, in addition to tailored style and product advice.

As customer data becomes more available, it is clear brands are becoming more inclined to invest in advertising models that will ensure they are only reaching people that will engage with the product. Purchasing models such as Cost Per Engagement (CPE) and Cost Per View (CPV) are becoming increasingly popular as quality over quantity becomes more of a priority for advertisers.

Advanced mobile advertising targeting could soon mean a customer arriving at Heathrow is targeted for an advert for the Heathrow Express, enabling them to simply buy a ticket. Whilst this has clear benefits for the brand, it makes the experience more convenient for the customer. Whilst this may be more expensive compared to other forms of advertising such as print, it has the potential to be far more effective in terms of return on investment.

Paying customers

2013 saw the launch of Locket, a Google Play application that puts high resolution, full screen adverts and other content on user’s smartphones every time they unlock their phone. The app pays users a small amount of money, in return for space. This innovative idea is fast becoming a trend, with companies offering customers payment for opting into advertising channels in different ways.

For example, in February start–up company, Datacoup, pioneered a data-capturing tactic, offering to pay customers $8 a month in return for information that can be anonymously shared with advertisers. Users are invited to choose which data they sell, from social media information to bank account details, and the more they sell, the more they’ll earn. The Datacoup website states that the data ‘is worth billions to brokers, advertisers and brands’; an explicit summary of how important data capture is to the advertising industry.

As brands recognise the power of big data, technology and social media to engage customers, brands will continue to invest in services that will enable them to create more interactive, targeted campaigns. Advertisers will also be able to use new and innovative ways of making their budgets stretch further, empowering smaller brands to punch above their weight. Watch this space.