How the Advertising Landscape Will Continue to Evolve in 2019

Holding companies and Amazon will see big change in the coming year

From how holding companies have changed to politics, advertising is sure to see many changes in the coming year. Getty Images
Headshot of Mike Barrett

Advertising has historically been powered by media. While this is still the case, technology is increasingly at the industry’s center of gravity. This shift, along with outside influences ranging from the economy to politics, has brought the industry to a pivotal moment. Everything from how and where we connect with consumers to the architecture of the advertising business is being reimagined.

The new year is a time to reconsider everything from business strategy to budget allocation. It’s also the perfect moment to reflect on a bigger question: What comes next? Look for the following trends to have a major impact on advertising in 2019.

Attrition of top talent from holding companies

Advertising spend has climbed consistently and linearly year over year and is forecasted to continue doing so as the market is healthy. The problem is not the business, it’s the business model of some of the players in the market. You need two things to succeed in advertising: talent and capital. Traditionally, the big holding companies have attracted the most talent, but as holding companies find themselves increasingly stretched financially, talent is going to look for new opportunities where they have the best chance to hone and showcase their skills.

A whole new set of advertising players will emerge, and fluency in technology will be the common thread holding them all together.

The brightest minds in advertising are going to join organizations that have fully embraced technology, reorganizing their entire strategy to place tech at the center. Legacy companies that fail to adopt a tech-driven practice or try to do so incrementally will lose. Consultancies, which instinctively prioritize tech, are in the best position to succeed in 2019 and beyond. In the next economic expansion, a whole new set of advertising players will emerge, and fluency in technology will be the common thread holding them all together.

A big year for Amazon

Media owners need to be able to provide the answer to one key question for media buyers: Why should you be on my plan? Facebook, which offers confirmed individuals, and Google, which allows you to target search behavior, have two great answers. Amazon also has a great answer to that question in knowing what people have bought before.

From sponsored products to display and video ads, advertisers need to quickly familiarize themselves with Amazon’s advertising options and operations. The most successful advertising will come from organizations that have looked forward and are entering 2019 with this knowledge. At the same time, the industry needs to embrace Amazon. Their New York headquarters makes them a significant threat when it comes to attracting talent.

Politics will affect advertising

Brands in the U.S. are going to have to decide how they want to respond, even if indirectly, to the state of the national discourse. We’re more divided than ever, and advertisers will need to decide if they want to lean into this or if they want to push off of it. We’ll likely see more advertising rivalries like McDonald’s versus Burger King and Samsung versus Apple bloom in the ad space. Simultaneously, we’ll also likely see more brands take the inclusive and open approach Heineken did with their “Open Your World” campaign. Brands don’t have to address politics head-on, but they need to bake an awareness of it into their communications plans and decide which path they are going to adopt.

In 2019, expect to see forward-thinking advertising organizations separate themselves from the pack. Adaptability in the face of change will be rewarded as advertisers shift their center of gravity from media to tech, tap into the full potential of Amazon as a major media player and adapt new strategies to lure and retain talent.


@bigmammal Mike Barrett is president of Heat.
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