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Digital as Everything

 Digital as Everything

Ever since the dawn of the so-called “digital marketing revolution” this new medium has represented a new, alternative way of reaching consumers and driving engagement with brands. As we stand on the brink of the true digital revolution, marketers need to grasp the degree to which the world and the media has changed.

Magazines and newspapers

Although it’s inaccurate to think of a website or an iPad as simply a digital version of a print publication, this is how advertising online has been thought of for nearly two decades. Banner ads are analogies to print spot ads – and as a result they have been the easiest kind of online advertising for publishers, agencies and clients to get their heads around.

Yet the humble banner ad – and the humble online publication with it – has changed. In the plain old website space we’re now seeing three important trends:

Large format advertising – a massive step forward in allowing a brand to capture consumer attention. Many international publisher sites are now adopting the IAB “rising stars” formats – much larger, more interactive banners, which can create immersive and content rich experiences online.

Programmatic buying – a way of purchasing media space which is far more dynamic than anything in the history of advertising. At the point of the page loading algorithms determine the most appropriate ad for the user seeing the page, and serves a piece of content that is most likely to appeal to the user.

Native advertising – the new incarnation of what used to be called “advertorial” or “branded content”. This seeks to get away from balkanising the ad into the right margin and put it front and centre as part of the content. Understandably serious content sites are fearful of polluting quality editorial with brand information but there are publishers out there (VICE Media and Buzzfeed as two great examples) who are getting it right.


Radio is also about to change forever. There is no doubt that internet radio devices will be appearing in cars and in your hands within the foreseeable future. As a result advertising placements will become dynamic. Programmatic buying and dynamically inserted ads will come to this medium as they have to other online spaces. Sure, it’s more complex in that radio is often listened to by more than one person, but there is no doubt that the future of radio advertising will look more like banner advertising than it does like today’s radio ads.


TV too is shifting just as quickly as our ADD way of consuming it. Set-top box devices like Google Chromecast and AppleTV are delivering on-demand television experiences curated by themselves or the new sprawling entertainment empires like Netflix and Amazon. Unlike radio, TV is mainly not a medium that people want to tune into concurrently. This era of television has been defined by viewers hungrily binging on serialised shows.

In addition clients are waking up to the fact that TV advertising is no longer working. With PVRs and video on demand it is the rare ad indeed that will command enough attention for people to actively seek it out and watch it.

And now television, too, is going digital. The signal coming into our home will travel over the internet to an internet device and, like radio, even broadcast television if it survives will become dynamic, customisable and personalised.


As cheap digital displays emerge faster and the internet starts to be everywhere, outdoor ads are starting to be windows into the online world. Ads can be animated, swapped out at a moment’s notice and customised to location, time of day and – even – the profile of users encountering them. This last makes little sense on a busy highway but in a shop display or poster it can, and is, happening.

Technology has some way to go here. Electronic billboards are already fairly ubiquitous although their occasional collapse into a Microsoft Windows error screen tells a story about the current technological sophistication of this generation of these displays. But the internet will have its way with this medium too before long.

To conclude, digital is everything. If not today, then soon. For advertisers and agencies just getting their heads around search and display advertising this creates yet another wave of change that will have to be grappled with and conquered. For digital experts it is the dawn of another, even greater, golden age in which the revolution which began with HTML, will finish with every other kind of thing.

 By Jarred Cinman, Managing Director NATIVE VML


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