We are about to enter 2020: A new year, new decade. And change in the media landscape is accelerating at an unrelenting pace with new technologies, platforms and businesses breaking and shaping the advertising industry.  

With this in mind, what should you have on your radar for the next 12 months? Tom Setter, our Advertising Director, talks us through his top three coming trends, what they mean for student marketers and what opportunities are out there if you’re brave enough.

One could even say its the Advertising Ghosts of Christmas present, past and future (we’re not even sorry for the corny Christmas joke.) What people should be doing right now, what people need to be doing better than they have been doing and what they will need to be doing in the near future. So, without further ado....

1. eSports (The Ghost of Advertising present)

I’m sure some of you are wondering what on earth eSports actually are. Unfortunately, you won’t be getting a six-pack anytime soon by going online. It’s not that kind of eSports. Instead, it’s global multiplayer video game competitions, organised in teams. Played live or remotely, these gamers pack out real stadiums with thousands of spectators, while millions more watch online. 

World maps eSports

So why is it important to us? Put simply, scale. Over 1.2m people from different backgrounds claim to watch eSports in Great Britain, alone. In Brazil, there are over 30 million people confessing to being eSport fans. The potential of accessing this highly-engaged, majorly younger generation, audience is phenomenal. 

But it will be critical to understand the new rules. Homework is compulsory here; gaming has its own culture and vocabulary, so don’t expect the copy for your Google ads to work on platforms such as Twitch. For those who take time to understand how to fit into the eSports world, however, there are so many valuable opportunities, such as content, advertising and sponsorship in the pipeline.

Lots of brands outside the industry are already jumping on this opportunity. In February the French government streamed an 11-hour discussion, the Great National Debate, on Twitch in an effort to reach young people.  And the likes of Nike and Amazon are already marking their territory. This eSport landscape is whitespace for Universities, so for now, including it in a brief to target students is the right thing in terms of audience. To connect meaningfully is going to be more difficult. But if you’re willing to be bold, It’s exciting to think where this emerging world can take us. 

2. Personalisation and data (The Ghost of Advertising past)

 Okay, next up. Personalisation is a wonderful thing and in response to growing audience demand is most definitely set to continue. The abundance of data that’s available now allows dynamic ad creatives that can change as per user relevance, adopting to metrics such as location, browser history, time, demographics, device type and more. And why is it important? You’ve heard this before: Enabling your message to be served to the right person, at the right time, on the right platform is marketing gold.

So if you aren’t personalising your campaigns, then you’re already behind. But we must avoid the trap of over-personalisation - audience strategy before perfect tactics, please. Over-targeting will limit your opportunity for growth and bringing some of your audiences together may unlock some very interesting patterns.

3. 5G - More connected than ever before (The Ghost of Advertising future)

Further afield but one to watch… And what exactly is it? 5G is super fast mobile. China is leading the charge, with the UK, US and South Korea all playing catch-up. China has over 10m people already using 5G, but again, context is everything, as there are nearly 1.4b people in China. So we can still argue that they are early adopters. The new iPhone launch in September does not have 5G, so early signs are this will not begin to be a ‘thing’ until late 2020/21.

virtual reality

Increased speed and connectivity means the 5G network can handle far more devices, providing the opportunity for anything and everything to be connected.

And the opportunities for marketers here are huge! Covering all business sectors, forecasters are predicting that it will add huge value to economies that are set up correctly. As an example, the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology estimates that, by 2030, 5G will add 2.9 trillion Yuan in value to China’s economy

What does this mean for advertising you ask? Firstly, soaring expectations. As with every advance in tech, it’ll be time to raise the bar once again.

And also, how media is consumed. Already skyrocketing (which we learned at Think Student Live), 5G will allow people to stream TV and video content reliably without a wi-fi connection, driving ‘on the go’ consumption. Brands will be able to connect with customers at any time, in any location, with richer and more immersive content. Which will then inevitably result in a complication. More consumption, more handheld devices, more engagement, more data to manage and analyse...

So should you worry? The good news is that it’s a few years before 5G will be fully functional, giving the industry time to prepare. But it is time to start thinking about it now because it is coming and otherwise, you will be left behind. 

There you have it. There are more trends coming, so keep your eyes peeled. And while there are many advancements that have happened in the last ten years that no one could have predicted, I wanted to get some of mine down on paper… but I do look forward to talking through with you where I got it right or if there were any skeletons (or ghosts) in the closet, that I got completely wrong. Happy 2020!

Article by

Tom Setter

Director of Advertising