You don’t have to be a fortune-teller to get a sense for some of the trends that will dominate the ad-tech landscape in the coming year. Some of them are relatively obvious, such as the continued onslaught of mobile and a higher penetration of phablets.

'Half an hour of web ads'

Then there are those that fit into the “it goes without saying” category:

  • Online ad spend will increase
  • Greater emphasis will be placed on micro-targeting and hypersegmentation — an obvious result as more data is sifted through over time and increased granularity is then possible
  • Personalization — how soon people forget that this has been a mainstay of direct marketing almost since its inception)

Crystal ball: 5 things that will happen

  1. Location, location, location
    Proximity tools such as Bluetooth and other beacon-enabled technology that “ping” when a customer walks by a product or trigger in-store displays will become a bigger presence. This could dramatically revolutionize brick-and-mortar marketing as retail stores use real-time data of shopping patterns to serve up targeted offers.
  2. Watch out, wearables are coming
    The iWatch, announced earlier this year, will be available in 2015. Previously, Google Glass made wearables seem more of a curiosity or an object of derision, but as the iWatch starts to make it onto people’s wrists, its benefits and pull will take hold, in much the same way the iPad did and created an entire category. As consumers go, so too do marketers, who will need to focus their attention on this new medium and create content accordingly.
  3. Picture a mobile world where video rules
    Video is progressively overtaking other tactics online, and as quickly as mobile is growing, mobile video is growing with it. Marketers will jump on the bandwagon big-time as they realize the need to create video ads that are customized for this medium. The obvious draw is comparable to when TV emerged: an opportunity to use a visual medium to tell compelling brand stories.
  4. The big payoff in mobile and social
    The iWatch might have created the initial hoopla, but Apple Pay is the real star. This shot across the bow will ignite mobile payments and make them mainstream. The fact is, the U.S. is behind the curve with this kind of technology, as several Asian, Middle Eastern and South Asian countries are already successfully using mobile payments via an SMS-based mobile payment service by Vodafone.
  5. We interrupt this scheduled program for programmatic
    The push for programmatic continues and gains ground. With the ongoing move to streamline advertising, programmatic is the logical direction for advertisers seeking to locate and purchase ad space automatically and maximize ROI. Programmatic TV will also have a larger presence in media buying in 2015.

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Crystal fall: 4 things that won’t happen

Before the Internet and before computers were actually connected to each other, pundits annually predicted, “This is the year of the network.” It took several years for this to actually become a reality.

  1. Digital overtaking traditional ad spend
    Along those lines it’s become almost a holiday season tradition for industry watchers to proclaim the coming year would be the year that digital overtakes traditional advertising. To them we say get ready for some “bah humbug.” Reality check: It ain’t happening yet, especially since TV is still king of the hill for now in terms of total ad spend. And as for some of you who will cite IAB statistics about digital surpassing broadcast TV, that’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, as it’s not the whole pie, just a slice; that would be comparable to looking at digital spend and removing mobile from the equation.
  2. Social media measurability
    Another famous prediction is that this is the year social media will become more measurable. The truth is, all you ever hear are platitudes about social media driving measurable results, but the linkage is suspect at best since there are so many other variables at play in the consumer journey. Until cross-channel measurability is mainstream, claims about social media’s efficacy are still a leap of faith.
  3. The lemmings will finally leap
    Then there’s the oft-repeated projection that this is the year the laggards will finally adopt social and mobile. If you keep repeating the same prediction, eventually it might come true. The reality is there is a certain component of the marketplace that still considers a lot of claims about social media’s efficacy to be pure vaporware. As for mobile, laggards are still cautious. There are always consumer components of early adopters and those who are reticent to buy the latest and greatest technology; so too, there are some marketers who want more hard-core proof before they venture into what they perceive to be uncharted waters.
  4. Omniscient attribution
    In today’s multi-device and multichannel ecosystem, the marketer’s dream of attributing ad influence of one channel to another is still not quite there yet. It’s comparable to the dream of privatizing space travel — we’ll get there eventually, but there are still plenty of bugs to be worked out. Third-party cookie data attribution doesn’t work in our multi-device world. But there is hope on the horizon with audience-based measurement that spans devices, browsers, and users. Even so, modeling still remains a challenge for some digital channels, so be patient.

Ernie CapobiancoErnie Capobianco is the founder of Sq1, a marketing analytics and insights company that works with Shell, Travelocity, and Dr Pepper. He is a graduate of Boston University with an undergrad degree in Accounting and Business Administration and a master’s in computer information systems from Boston’s Bentley University.