What's on the adtech and martech horizon in 2019?

2018 was a big year in the advertising tech and marketing tech arenas, filled with blockbuster acquisitions and rising new technologies, such as programmatic mobile buying which became mainstream.

So, what will be the big industry-defining trends in 2019? What trends will continue and what will drop off in the new year?

Here are my top predictions for 2019:

OTT/connected TV will come into its own

Over-the-top television (OTT) and video streaming units (think Roku and Chromecast, for starters), along with connected TV apps such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu have dramatically reshaped the television and video landscape. Once upon a time, software was eating the world. Now, it’s video’s turn.

Despite the incredible growth so far of OTT and connected TV, this is only the beginning. In 2019, expect both video outlets to be even more pervasive.

So, what does this mean for advertisers and marketers? Certainly, paid channels such as Netflix, HBO Now, etc. will continue to do well, but the majority of consumers are not willing to pay for more than two outlets/channels at a time. As such, I predict that both advertisers and OTT app publishers will invest further in seamless, effective advertising options in the next year.

“Ad-supported OTT will prove to be a strong contender for television advertising dollars as more and more viewers shift away from traditional television,” says Kedar Gavane, Vice President at Comscore. “Today, OTT delivers the best of TV with the capability to precisely target viewers down to the zip code level, and use factors like demographics, lifestyle and interests. More advanced analytics tools are enabling advertisers to target the right audience, buy the highest quality inventory and measure OTT campaign results more effectively.”

There will be greater accountability in advertising and adtech

In Gartner’s "2018 Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Advertising", we see mobile marketing analytics, ad verification and multitouch attribution as past the peak of inflated expectations and nearing the trough of disillusionment. Why is that?

To me, this all points to how everyone in the adtech space is looking for greater accountability, transparency and insights in regard to their spending and actions. According to Yory Wurmser, eMarketer’s principal retail analyst, this will be one of the biggest issues marketers must face head-on in 2019.

This is also why more brands will bring their efforts in-house in 2019, along with a greater focus more on cross-device and multitouch attribution. It also helps to explain why adtech that increases reach and revenue alongside transparency, like programmatic ad buying and unified ad auctions, will be increasingly prevalent in the new year too.

“The biggest issue in mobile marketing today is trust. As more and more companies enter the fray, with varying levels of technology and frankly, legitimacy, it becomes increasingly difficult for buyers to ascertain what is real and what isn’t,” says Mike Brooks, SVP of Revenue at WeatherBug. “That said, as more and more advanced types of fraud are being uncovered and taught to even the most basic buyers, the advertisers in the mobile space are going to optimize their spends toward partners they can trust to not perpetrate these schemes. I think this is finally the year where advertisers start talking with their money and moving it to people they trust and business models they understand.”

5G will lead to unforeseen advances

For both adtech and martech specifically, and really for the world at large, 5G has the potential to be immensely disruptive. Autonomous vehicles and drones could be the tip of the iceberg as far as potential applications are concerned. Its effects on society could defy imagination!

Think for a moment, about all the changes that came about as a result of 4G and LTE. Without it, there’s no Uber, no WeChat and no Facebook -- at least, not in the way we consume them now. Truthfully, the entire app economy may not have taken off if we were all still relying on 3G.

I believe a similar shift will occur with a wider 5G rollout. Everyone -- including advertisers and marketers -- should prepare now for our upcoming digital out-of-home lives.

Tech will increasingly work the way we do, not the other way around

Perhaps the most revolutionary feature of the iPhone was its touchscreen display. Simply by poking and tapping the screen, we can now do just about everything. It’s so easy and intuitive to use, even for the less technologically savvy.

Unlike laptops and desktops, mobile devices cater to how we work naturally, as opposed to typing or using a mouse. Going into 2019, and beyond, expect more technology to cater to and center around how humans naturally interact with the world.

Voice is a prime example of this. Why type something out when you can speak it in less time? Voice communication is far more natural to us, and technology is really beginning to catch up. The same concept applies to computer vision and visual search, which Yory Wurmser thinks will really take off in 2019.

This is also why I think VR has a way to go. The headsets are currently too clunky and not as seamless as they need to be.

So, what does all this mean for adtech and martech specifically? One of the main reasons why we’ve seen so much consolidation in our space over the past few years is because companies realize they need greater resources and long-term support in order to fully develop these kinds of future-focused endeavors.

Data will become an even more valuable asset to marketers

Data may have been the new oil since 2017, but that doesn’t mean advertisers and marketers have yet to fully grasp its true value. Expect that to change though in 2019, as data-led initiatives become the norm.

Gartner thinks Data-Driven Marketing is five to 10 years away, but I predict it will arrive in force sooner than that. Laws such as GDPR in the EU and the California Consumer Privacy Act that took effect in 2018 show that governments are valuing advertising and marketing data just as much.

This will especially be true in the realm of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Through AI, brands will be able to better find the right audiences and offer them more effective ads, among many other use cases. Marketing will be propelled forward by AI in 2019.

Will I Be Proven Right?

Of course, with any prediction, there’s always a chance I will be wrong. However, regardless of what actually occurs in 2019, it’s safe to say that disruptive change is afoot for the adtech and the martech space. Exactly how much and in what ways, only time will tell.

Abhay Singhal is the co-founder and President of Advertising Cloud at InMobi.

If you enjoyed this article, sign up for SmartBrief’s free e-mail from the Mobile Marketing Association, among SmartBrief's more than 200 industry-focused newsletters.