2020 Industry Predictions

Iván Markman, Chief Business Officer

people sitting around a board room

This is an excerpt of an article originally published on December 20, 2019 with The Drum. Check out the full article, including more predictions related to Gen Z, SVOD and data regulation here. 


This year has brought on considerable shifts in our industry. From changes to the way browsers manage cookie tracking, to emerging channels like CTV and DOOH, 2019 was a year of evolution and transition. 2020 is likely to be similar, as industry participants, advertisers and publishers grapple with 2019’s impact, while also navigating a host of new opportunities and challenges. Consumer behavior will continue to evolve as well, adding to key trends to address. All in all, I expect the New Year to be an eventful one, particularly with a presidential election on the horizon in the US. 

But what’s coming? I’ve been fortunate to participate in multiple thought provoking conversations in recent months, engaging our customers and partners about what’s in store next year. With that in mind, here are a few trends that are likely to set the trajectory for the market in 2020. 

Content + Commerce is Key for Consumers and Publishers

Consumers continue to evolve their media consumption and how they discover, engage with and transact goods and services. At the same time, media companies need to continue to diversify and find new sources of revenue growth. This is where commerce comes into play. For premium publishers, it’s a huge -- albeit untapped by many -- opportunity that can fit neatly into their existing business. Publisher news and lifestyle content attracts users seeking both information and inspiration. Each is a key step in the customer journey. Trusted publishers also have a built-in user base of in-market shoppers waiting to be activated. Next year, I expect more publishers to integrate commerce across content through native and shoppable ads, as well as other shoppable content  programs. They will also look to the full spectrum of consumer engagement available, including experiential marketing, live events, games, immersive experiences and more. 

Trusted Content is King During a Presidential Election

An election year is always a big year, but 2020 will bring special challenges and opportunities for advertisers. It will be shaped by recent changes in privacy regulations, pressures around “fake” news and advertising, and technology innovations offering more relevant news and ad content. Advertisers ignore consumer needs at their own peril, and consumers want to be able to trust what they see and hear. Our own news consumption studies have shown this over and over. Half of consumers surveyed say they choose news sources based on credibility alone, and they like brands that advertise on trusted sites. It’s time for our industry to step up and offer choice and transparency to earn consumer trust. The stakes have never been higher. 2020 will be the year of consumer Trust and Choice.

The Need for Transparency is Changing Programmatic 

Programmatic advertisers want greater clarity from publishers, UGC platforms, DSPs, and agencies. There’s a growing expectation that partners will  grant access and insight on a range of matters like media inventory; data provenance and quality; campaign attribution; and fees. Without proper transparency, advertisers will shift  their investments  elsewhere; there’s already evidence of it in the rise of in-housing. Similarly, I expect open exchange transactions to decline, with greater growth in premium programmatic marketplaces -- think programmatic guaranteed  deals and private exchanges with high-quality inventory -- that tend to be more trusted and transparent.

The Future of Native Advertising is Emerging

Native advertising continues to explode. Brands spent $44 billion on it this year -- and that number will climb as emerging channels deliver more turnkey formats for buyers. AR ad spend, for example, will go from $780 million in 2019 to nearly $3 billion by 2022. Investment is following consumer adoption as AR user growth surges. But one key to AR marketing’s success is the improvement in the native ad experience, with vendors and publishers innovating features and content. Innovations like a smoother user interface, adjustable overlays, and smartphone camera changes have attracted brand interest. Pottery Barn, for example, used native AR ads to help shoppers see home decor options in their actual home. Other brands like Chevrolet, Volvo, JCPenny and Home Depot are doing the same. In 2020, savvy brands will invest more in emerging native ad formats like AR. And mobile connectivity advancements, especially 5G, will pave the way for more user-friendly and immersive experiences that will begin to be delivered and streamed in real-time and at scale as 5G becomes more mainstream. 

As we head into the New Year, these are a few of the standout trends I expect to shape the market. From transparency to native to video to commerce, the landscape is evolving, with more change expected.