Digital Media Predictions for 2017


Digital Media Predictions for 2017 ...

When you hear people say that the digital media industry is fast-paced, they certainly aren’t exaggerating. Digital Media is the industry that doesn’t stand still and although 2016 feels like it has come and (almost) gone in an instant, building on all of the good and exciting things that have happened then 2017 promises to be an exciting one.

At equimedia, we have continued our annual tradition and put our media heads together to shortlist what we feel are the key developments to look out for next year…

Advertising on Messaging Apps

While we may not see this fully established in 2017, advertising on messaging apps will certainly be hot topic. The two biggest messaging apps, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, are currently ad-free but brands can set-up accounts to chat directly with consumers. This is likely to become more prevalent and already we have seen examples of brands such as the BBC and Just Eat utilising the messaging app to engage with customers.

Facebook has indicated that it is interested in monetising their messaging app but have been fairly coy when it comes to WhatsApp even though it has just halted its use of WhatsApp data across Europe after coming under pressure from the pan-European data protection agency group, the Article 29 Working Party, in October.

This collection of data would have enabled Facebook to link Facebook and WhatsApp accounts together to inform advertising on Facebook and enhance the service offered. Facebook had previously cited the following benefits;

  • We will be able to more accurately count unique users
  • We can better fight spam and abuse
  • If you are a Facebook user, you might see better friend suggestions and more relevant ads on Facebook

One such marketing benefit was to utilise WhatsApp phone number data for Facebook’s custom audience’s ad offering so that any Whatsapp user who has given their mobile number to a business can be served targeted ads by the same business in Facebook.

It’ll be an interesting one to watch and with the new Status feature that WhatsApp are now offering to rival Snapchat Stories and with ‘sponsored messages’ within chat bots on Facebook this is creating more opportunities for brands to push out messages to users who are connected to them. The burning question surrounding any further monetisation is how will Facebook integrate ads into its platform without annoying users?

Interactive Advertising & Immersive Storytelling

360 videos and virtual and augmented reality advertising is starting to take shape as we move into 2017 and has been given a huge boost from the successes seen from Pokemon Go. The fully immersive experiences that these formats offer can allow brands to develop deeper connections with their audiences and is something we are also seeing publishers embrace, like the Guardian who are using VR in a number of environments including gaming, retail, live events, education and healthcare as well as in their journalism.

Some industries lend themselves to augmented reality (AR) more so than others but a great example of this being tried and tested was the ad campaign by the NHS Blood and Transplant that used an AR billboard to show the power of blood donations. Using an iPhone which used AR to replicate the process of a needle going into their flesh, donators could virtually fill up a bag of blood on major ad screens in Birmingham in London.

Media owners are also innovating in this space with Exponential in the US launching a new video ad format with Snapchat like capabilities that enables marketers to overlay images on consumers’ faces. The face-filter ad unit uses facial tracking technology to help consumers interact with products. For example, female shoppers can virtually try on makeup via the ad unit.

If used effectively, augmented reality encourages consumers to spend quality time with a brand. The rationale behind this is that consumers will be more attentive and willing to receive brand messages within an AR experience. Further to this, the promise of immersive storytelling has led brands to experiment with 360 video. 360 videos, offered by the likes of Facebook and YouTube, are video recordings where a view in every direction is recorded at the same time, shot using an omnidirectional camera or a collection of cameras.Here is an example from Nestle of one of the first 360 video ads that ran on Facebook. An interesting study by Google looked into the strength of 360 video vs standard video ads and found that 360 video doesn’t perform on traditional viewer rates but that it did motivate viewers to watch more and to interact as well as encourage viewers to share, subscribe and view other videos.

As the technology in this area continues to develop, the more we will see brands and publishers experiment with the format and the overall contribution and value will be much stronger.

A video-first world

2017 is the year we see video become the dominant format on marketer’s plans and also the year where we will see a step-change in content being designed specifically for the environment in which it will be placed in.

The IAB/PwC Digital Adspend H1 2016 report showed that video in the front half of 2016 was the fastest growing ad format, by 67%, with spend reaching £474 million. Driven by rising video, TV and film viewing on smartphones, mobile video spend alone grew 129% and is predicted to continue to rise on into 2017 along with advertiser adoption of programmatic video. Advertisers are realising the potential that video can bring; video can tell a brand story better than other formats, it can work extremely well amongst mobile audiences and can convert sales.

As far as creative production goes, standard TV copy being ‘fit for purpose’ has been an issue online and features such as auto-play are prompting brands to think differently about their creative. This, coupled with attention spans on mobile makes it very different to how the format works on TV. Video must capture attention quickly (the first 3 seconds on Facebook and Instagram!) and consideration needs to be given to how the video resonates with sound off within certain environments. and their Captain Obvious campaign was a great example of a brand playing with the rules tailoring their content to Facebook silent auto play.

Demand for premium video inventory has always outweighed supply and for this reason is why we will start to see formats such as out-stream video becoming much more widely adopted. Out-stream impressions are video ad units that are unaccompanied by content. A pre-roll or mid-roll ad will require a publisher’s video to wrap around this whereas an out-stream ad is a video ad unit that isn’t wedded to any piece of publisher video content. The formats are designed to be 100% viewable and offer advertisers more exposure and publishers additional sources of revenue. This leads nicely on to our next trend prediction of……

Native Advertising

Native and branded content we are predicting to take a larger share of the digital budget in 2017 with native video at the heart of this. Native video ads generate a higher brand lift than pre-roll video ads and are used to drive more audiences and mitigate against ad blocking. A native video ad appears as part of a flowing content consumption experience, such as scrolling through an article or browsing through a social feed.

As advertising formats, native is deemed as less intrusive and with their natural-looking visibility can deliver a more meaningful experience. Advanced algorithms enable advertisers to dynamically position their native ads next to similar or related content on the web. Consumers are more likely to engage with a sponsored article that provides them with relevant new information than a traditional banner ad.

According to the IAB/PwC Digital Adspend H1 2016 report, Content and native advertising spend – which includes ‘advertorials’ and ads in social media news feeds – increased 29% to £451 million in the first half of 2016 and we foresee this rise continuing.As with video, native creates opportunities for publishers to monetise their web traffic more effectively. There are a number of challenges that publishers are facing such as the rise of ad blockers, a crowded publishing environment and the threat posed by distributing content on platforms such as Facebook so the promise of native and branded content is a welcome relief. Recent concerns over the spread of fake news shows just how important premium publishers are, both for readers looking for a trusted source and advertisers wanting guarantee on viewability and fraud.

We have previously blogged about Native Advertising so if you are interested in finding out more and how to deliver a successful native campaign in 2017 then please have a read.

Linking online influence with in-store purchases

Particularly for FMCG and CPG brands there will be a lot of focus next year in linking online exposure to immediate sales and advancing beyond the use of UTNs and coupon mechanisms.

Digital display including Social can be used to help generate impulse. Personalising a marketing message to consumers based on their geographical location can help deliver higher relevancy, eliminate wastage and allow a focused communication to audiences directly that can be tried and tested. It’s about providing meaningful connections to people in the moments that matter and platforms such as Facebook are developing advertising solutions around this. Facebook Local Awareness Ads have been designed to address the objective of getting users to a physical bricks and mortar store and can be used to promote business locations nearby. Facebook have recently started giving advertisers data about those who were served an ad and then those users who travelled into store and are now letting advertisers link transactions to ads via an offline conversions API so that they can view real-time results as transactions occur in-store.


2017 promises to be another exciting year in the world of digital media. If you’re interested in any of the topics put forward and would like to find out more, check out our services, or get in touch with a member of our new business team. 


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