Imagining local advertising, 10 years down the road
Most traditional media will be dramatically transformed, much of it interactive
December 27, 2016
Ten years ago the iPhone didn’t exist, local advertisers didn’t know what a Facebook page was, and yellow pages were an essential part of any small business’s ad budget.
A lot can change in a decade.
Now mobile accounts for 11 percent of all local advertising, three quarters of small businesses use social media to advertise, and barely 1 percent of local budgets are devoted to yellow pages.
So what changes will the next 10 years bring to local advertising?
The specifics are hard to forecast because technology changes so quickly.
Who could have guessed that the majority of Americans would have smartphones back in 2006?
Still, it is possible to make some predictions.
Here are five things we think will happen in local advertising in 2026, based on conversations with analysts, buyers and within Media Life. (Note: This does not include predictions about how content will evolve, only advertising; we’ll tackle content in a future story.)
1. All advertising becomes interactive and experiential
Today there are beacons that can send notifications to your phone. But imagine if those beacons could access your internet search history and photos, and send you personalized offers based on your preferences.
“In 10 years, I’m visualizing that we could have implanted chips that communicate with connected cars, in-store beacons, point of sale systems, customer-relationship management systems, search histories, stored personally identifiable information, and a variety of database management platforms and trading exchanges that facilitate hypertargeting, real-time and contextually relevant messaging from brands to consumers all along their purchase journey,” says Rick Ducey, managing director at BIA/Kelsey, which tracks local advertising.
2. Newspaper advertising becomes digital advertising
It’s certainly no secret that newspapers are struggling, and it’s not hard to see most transitioning to a digital format by 2026.
That will mean several things for advertising.
One, it will be cheaper, because online CPMs are much lower. Two, it will be more targeted, because local newspapers’ online platforms just don’t pull as many readers as the print edition. And three, it will be in a very different format – mobile and video are top options for advertisers, who will be in an experimental mode as changes continue to roil the industry.
3. All of digital and traditional will become blended
Ducey notes that right now many media have both traditional and digital formats. The lines between them will blur as time goes on, so that there’s little difference between, for instance, an online and offline iHeartRadio station.
“I believe there really won’t be a traditional versus digital dichotomy; we’ll have blended media experiences such that this distinction loses meaning,” he says.
4. Like cinema, the car becomes a category unto itself
Connected cars will be huge by 2026. Combining mobile technology and advanced audio and video, they’ll also become advertising vehicles.
Imagine turning on your car and seeing a short sponsored video on your GPS/radio console as your car is pulling out of the driveway.
Also imagine all this taking place in a car that drives itself, what’s in effect a living room on wheels.
Those are the cars of the future.
5. Direct mail will still exist—really
Direct mail is the media equivalent of a cockroach. It cannot be killed. Though Ducey says it probably won’t command the 25 percent share of local advertising it currently sits at, it will remain an effective and popular form of reaching out to new customers.
“People do like high-quality and relevant print products. Even with the huge growth of digital books, there’s been a recent resurgence of people reading physical books,” he notes.
“Bottom line, if any of today’s traditional media platforms survive to 2026 in way that we’d still feel accurate calling them traditional and not digital, my bet is on direct mail.”
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