The display advertising industry is in rude health. It’s constantly evolving and has proven to be a cornerstone of innovation in the advertising world. The display ad landscape offers marketers a wide range of formats and creative options, with benefits like gathered data and flexibility for delivering brand and performance campaigns.

When technology and marketing objectives present challenges, display can offer immense benefits to help advertisers precisely cut through to otherwise difficult to reach target audiences.

Here’s what to expect from display advertising in 2018:

More programmatic

Next year display advertising is gearing up to become even more programmatic, due to the fusion of technology, creativity and data with the adoptive mindset of the advertiser. The ad industry is clearly witnessing an ever-increasing proportion of marketing spend being devoted to programmatic display advertising. eMarketer reported that nearly $40 billion will be spent on this technology in 2018, compared to $32.5 billion for 2017.

Programmatic technology will increasingly be integrated into the creative process. For example, instead of serving a single ad creative to all target audiences; machines can learn to segment, select and display different and relevant creatives according to context, in order to maximise their impact with audiences.

Mobile will eat into more of display’s budget pie

As an increasing amount of time is spent consuming content on smartphones, the volume of mobile inventory that’s available to display ads increases. Launching mobile ad campaigns gives advertisers a great deal of scope to reach audiences. The objective of location-based advertising campaigns is to discover the optimum context to impact the final user, and only mobile devices can do this efficiently.

The rise of native advertising

Native advertising has emerged as a successful ad format, one that connects with audiences in a natural or ‘native’ fashion. Native advertising is attracting a great deal of interest from advertisers because it generates twice the amount of audience attention when compared to traditional display ad formats. Therefore, native generates significantly more engagement and shareability, helping to build strong brand awareness and, often, the influence of native advertising is more significant than original editorial content.

Taking this higher reception and engagement into consideration, there is no doubt that in 2018, investment in this type of advertising strategy will increase significantly. This will be especially visible across mobile, with ever more companies adopting programmatic as a method to buy and serve native advertising. Some researchers report that by 2021, Native ads will drive 74% of all ad revenue.

Emergent ad display formats

Emergent ad display formats such as playable ads (where the ad is an interactive game) will become more mainstream for brands, agencies and publishers. These offer increased engagement, conversion and revenues.

Next year display ads will be served much more intelligently, with dynamic creativity. For example, an advertiser will have different iterations of an ad. These different iterations will be served according to contextual factors, and this process will be powered by intelligent learning AI algorithms, which make their decisions based on user and contextual data factors, such as geo-positioning or changes in the weather.

2018 will be a turning point for the display ad landscape, where technology will begin to take over more of the human thinking processes and decision making, helping to optimise investment in advertising for brands, agencies and publishers.

As we’ve seen with the recent launch of the new iPhone X, augmented reality functionality will open up a new universe of advertising possibilities for brands. 2018 may well be the year when mainstream advertising finally crosses the border from reality to virtual.


In their quest to maximise ROI and combat ad fraud of their campaigns, brands will continue to highlight the importance of viewability and push the sector into the adoption of universal metrics for it. The viewability metric will emerge as one of the most important measures for publishers to demonstrate themselves as a quality and effective support.

The upcoming year will see display advertising growing significantly in terms of investment and performance. User interactions will be raised to new heights thanks to the adoption of the innovative technologies discussed, enabling brands to become more effective at planning campaigns and reviewing their results.