What to Expect from Digital Media in 2018

Digital advertising is continuing to change at a phenomenal rate. Frequently, we’ll have clients who understand this from an overall perspective, although they haven’t kept up with what that change entails.

As consultants, it’s our job to not only understand these changes but to prepare for them in order to be better stewards of our client’s money. While it’s hard to predict what the digital media landscape will look like in six months, let alone by November, there are some hard truths now that campaigns need to understand.

Here are three things campaigns and advocacy groups can expect from this year’s digital media environment:

Shorter ads are becoming more popular, but they may not always be the answer.

Form shouldn’t dictate substance when it comes to creative this cycle. Yes, short spots, which run up to six seconds, are an attractive way to capture viewers’ attention, particularly on mobile devices.

But the run time shouldn’t be the first thing you think about when creating an ad. Instead, think about how to capture the viewer’s attention at the beginning of a spot. If you are able to hook a user with thoughtful content in the first 3-5 seconds, studies have shown that they are still willing to consume long-form content, even on mobile devices. A great 30-second ad will always be more likely to move voters than a mediocre 6-second ad.

Facebook will be making the advertising and targeting process much more transparent to the casual user.

Facebook has made it clear that it wants users to know two things: who is behind the campaign spots they see, and how they’re viewed by advertisers.

At the same time, the FEC is moving toward expanded disclosure requirements for ads on Facebook and other social platforms. All of this is just more evidence that you shouldn’t do anything on the internet unless you’re comfortable with the whole world knowing.

Including a disclaimer now is a good best practice as it puts your creative ahead of the disclosure curve as there will surely be greater requirements coming.

The line between digital and traditional media is disappearing.

The days of differentiating between how and where a user consumes content are coming to an end. This means making digital and TV apples to apples, and using various inputs (audience, budget, media markets, flight dates and media consumption habits) to determine the most cost efficient and effective media mix.

Our friends who’ve been buying television for a long time may be more reluctant to accept the idea of increasing digital spend because they feel like their livelihood is being challenged. Our case to whomever we’re working with is this: it’s not about redirecting the budget, but rather, a supplemental approach to the budget. A good policy is to be audience specific and screen agnostic — as long as the message is being delivered effectively to the target audience, nothing else matters.