I think we can all agree last year was torrid for the tech industry, with increased concerns over data usage and consumer privacy in the spotlight thanks to scandals like Cambridge Analytica’s data breach. Alongside the subsequent increase in mobile ad blocking and the threat of tech taxations, there is a dramatic and sometimes bleak outlook for all corners of the industry. 

Despite this upheaval, investment in mobile advertising has continued to exceed analysts’ expectations, in large part driven by mobile’s versatility, convenience and the endless creative opportunities available for mobile browser and in-app advertising. And in keeping with the year just passed, 2019 is set to hold many challenges, but also giant leaps for many exciting technologies. So what are some of the exciting trends we’re keeping an eye on over 2019?

1. Full speed ahead

In the UK, EE is due to bring out the first 5G mobile connection across major cities by the summer. This will be followed by other major mobile networks, promising speeds of up to 20 times faster than 4G, making browsing online and streaming video a whole lot easier for consumers. In the short term, these increased speeds will provide plenty of opportunities for performance marketers wanting to test out innovative ways to reach consumers, from AR-enabled ad formats to ultra-high-definition creatives. 

In the longer term, the trusty mobile phone will arguably become the least exciting device in the world of mobile connected devices. The so-called ‘internet of things’ is frequently discussed, but with the advent of 5G more devices will be able to connect to the internet. This will enable marketers to obtain a far better understanding of the consumer across all the devices they use day-to-day, from voice-activated assistants to wearable devices. 

2. Augmented reality (AR)

With whispers of a new Niantic game release for Harry Potter – which will be replicating the same AR technology as its popular sibling Pokemon GO – 2019 will be another big year for AR. Prepare yourself for Potter fans everywhere wandering through the streets with their phones casting spells. 

There is a magic opportunity for performance marketers to tap into this new app – and they should be looking to develop innovative partnerships that add to the gaming experience through VR. This could include targeted money off vouchers and incentives based on completed levels, or relevant ad creative based on the location of the player.

It’s not just gaming where AR is taking off – advertisers across verticals are beginning to look towards AR to elevate their mobile initiatives in new ways. As a result, it’s not surprising that the projected value for augmented reality is staggering. Markets and Markets recently predicted that AR is set to be valued at $60.5 billion by 2023. More importantly, a whopping 77% of shoppers have reported an interest in using AR to shop products wherever possible, so this is certainly a trend to keep an eye on.

3. Insta shopping 

Many of our favourite social channels are morphing into digital shopping emporiums, offering lucrative opportunities for brands wishing to sell direct via the platforms. 2019 will be the year of “social commerce”, with Instagram introducing shopping features in its app this year, and Snapchat teaming up with Amazon to enable users to check and purchase products via its visual search tool.

The success of this will be chiefly driven by video advertising – in fact, 66% of ad impressions on Instagram are already the result of video content. Zenith predicts that online video advertising will grow by 18% a year between 2018 and 2021, twice as fast as other forms of internet display advertising, with targeted online video campaigns being the most effective form of global advertising over the next few years.

4. Personalisation in a world of GDPR 

You’d be hard pressed to have missed the GDPR legislation that came into force in the spring, and maintaining cut-through and convenience in targeted campaigns without becoming creepy will, therefore, continue to be a battle for marketers going into 2019. Consumers will still take themselves out of the reach of marketers, with research showing that they are choosing to adopt more privacy tools and opt-out settings. Yet many will still expect personalisation, with research from Salesforce showing that 62% of consumers expect companies to send personalised offers or discounts.

Meanwhile, following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the government has said it will regulate the tech giants more heavily, and there is likely to be far more intense scrutiny of data collection throughout 2019. A key focus for marketers this year is to ensure they are committing themselves to fully transparent and compliant methods of data collection while using the data they can access to continue offering an excellent customer experience that is targeted and relevant, to deliver engaging ads. 

5. Exciting opportunities lie ahead

Above all, the future of advertising is a consumer-driven experience in which advertisers must anticipate changing needs. Brands that succeed will be those that continually innovate to find new ways to thrill and entertain their audiences and meet their needs while avoiding being intrusive. 

With so many exciting technological advancements and future trends in the new year, the mobile advertising ecosystem will be taking some huge leaps in 2019. But as the mobile world becomes increasingly familiar with these new formats and their potential, the competition will inevitably become stiffer.