Expect advertising to colonize even more digital spaces in 2019

Expect advertising to colonize even more digital spaces in 2019

Seeing the little countdown finally get to "skip ad" is one of life's little pleasures, isn't it? But it may become all the rarer in the future. And no, not because there'll be fewer ads. Wherever our attention goes, brands will put themselves in front of it. Here's how advertising looks to be encroaching further on the hi-tech world in the future.

Apps and services

It's a well known fact that we pay for free apps and online services with our data, but the endgame of that is that we get targeted ads. But most people find ads off-putting, targeted or not, so it's no surprise that we flock to free, or really cheap, services that don't show ads. Unfortunately, there's a well established trend of broken promises when it comes to popular apps and services, especially when it comes to the blue empire, Facebook, and its vassals. But of course, Google gets in on it too.

The pattern? Offer a great ad-free (or with minimal ads) service, build up a customer base and loyalty, and then start injecting ads once the userbase is loyal. Remember when Instagram started getting its first ads? Or when Google walked back on its promise to never run banner ads? Facebook Messenger last year? Now it's the turn of the uber-popular WhatsApp, which is slated to start showing ads in 2019. As if the betrayal of user trust when it comes to privacy wasn't a good enough reason to switch

Online services will also cripple some popular functionality that can detract from the advertising. For example, this is why the YouTube app doesn't allow background play.

You have to pay for YouTube Premium for an ad-free experience. / © NextPit

A personal prediction: while we've all become accustomed to using free web services in return for ads, as the push towards ever higher revenue growth becomes more intense, I expect to see ad-free subscription services like Netflix hike prices, then introduce a 'discount' service that runs ads on top of the fee.

Digital media

Some of you may be seeing ads on this very page, since we, like most other online magazines, monetize through advertising. In reaction to the overwhelming amount of ads on the web, many of us use some kind of adblocker browser plugin. In response, many sites, will prompt you to whitelist, or even block content if you don't. Other, previously, ad-supported sites have have thrown up paywalls. Of course, most people like paying even less than intrusive ads. So what about supposedly non-intrusive ones?

Native advertising, custom content, sponsored content, advertorials. Essentially paid content made up to look just like the normal kind of information an outlet presents, you’ll have seen this here at AndroidPIT and on other sites. While at least with us, this content is relatively rare, and partnerships explicitly mentioned in the text. But the balance is important.

No one wants our favorite media outlets to close through lack of funds, but if too much of the content is sponsored by outside interests, editorial authority suffers. So the usefulness of content marking or native ads on digital media is limited by a hard cap...too much of it, and the outlet loses the traction it needs to sell that space in the first place.


The games industry in 2018 was characterized by the microtransaction-heavy economic model common in free-to-play mobile games manifesting even in $60+ AAA PC and console titles. Naturally, there was consumer backlash and controversy over this and gambling style loot box items

But at the end of 2018 Capcom tried a different tack that also seemed to be lifted from the free-to-play market. The venerable company inserted ads into Street Fighter V, on loading screens, backgrounds and character costumes, including some egregious instances such as Indian fighter Dhalsim having ads on his necklace of shrunken skulls, in-lore those of village children who died in a plague. The ads are optional but work reward players with a pittance of an already-stingy in-game currency. But bear in mind, the game sold for $60 without even including paid DLC!

Gaming as recreation and also as a spectator entertainment is more popular than ever so it's no surprise that brands are looking for ways to generate revenue from this attention. I spoke to, a startup that offers in-game advertising both in high end games and virtual reality experiences. In their demo, a virtual shooter arena displayed billboards for products that blended in seamlessly with the environment, and in the future, games displaying this kind of ad can be updated, ad content changed for new promotions, or even targeted to the user. In essence, the ads would be 'live'.

In theory, such ads would also be inserted with a view to verisimilitude of the game world...i.e. more appropriate in a sports game than a historical adventure story. In theory. But, as the Capcom example has shown, brands will always be willing to cross the line of good taste if it means potential revenue.

Virtual and augmented reality

Virtual reality is advancing as home entertainment but is also increasingly used in industry and for commercial purposes. And you bet there's going to be advertising in virtual space. Much like with video games, the 'worlds' of VR have room for their own kinds of billboards.

VR 02
VR offers new opportunities to advertisers. / © dotshock/Shutterstock

What's different here is that, rather than tracking your movements across the web, companies involved with VR/AR headsets will track your position and gaze. Ads can be targeted and evaluated according to the actual eyeball time they get from the user, as such, the data gleaned from virtual reality or mixed reality may be particularly valuable to market researchers. Especially, as I've seen, when combined with brain scans

Recently, when I got some time with the Magic Leap One, I discussed with a developer the potential of the 'Internet 3D', a new way of sharing digital information using AR/VR space, natural vision and body movements. As magical as this does sound, it made me think of the time it took the internet we know today to become saturated with advertising since it's inception. The Internet 3D won't be too different. In fact, I'd say that brands are already champing at the bit to get that virtual real estate, it's the technology that isn't moving fast enough for them.

Will there be a tipping point?

There's always a tension when it comes to advertising. For the most part, we don't want to see it., and generally prefer the user experience of ad-free services, or install adblock software for our browsing. Ultimately, it's a sleight of hand that relies on you paying attention to something you want, and then redirecting it to something else.

androidpit ABP banners
Adblockers will always be popular. / © NextPit

But in return for free access to services, most of us are willing to accept ads or, hand over our data for ad targeting, even if we continue to rebel/evade this onus in different ways. It's kind of an arms race, but as the drive towards ever expanding growth from ad revenue leads to less and less non-commercialized space around us, will this resistance eventually reach a full-on mass backlash?

How do you see the future of digital advertising next year? Is it reaching it limits?

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  • F.Alam Jan 1, 2019 Link to comment

    Thank you very much for informative thread

  • AlexandraChamberlain Dec 30, 2018 Link to comment

    "Early in the springtime we round up the dogies
    Mark 'em and brand 'em and bob off their tails

    COPY AND PASTE...............HEAR>>>

  • Gavin Runeblade Dec 27, 2018 Link to comment

    This is a very complicated issue that really deserves a longer article.

    There is a time coming when AI will make many advertisements useless because your assistant will know that you have 4 days worth of toothpaste left and order you a new tube and it will just show up without asking you first and you'll be glad to see it. No ad is going to be created to sway the opinion of an AI that works off of your own preferences, so that will really put a massive hit on ads. But that is far in the future.

    Today, AI is the source of most of the ads we see. Even on network TV the decision for which ads are shown and how they are designed comes from analysis of big data which means algorithm-driven market research which means AI. So right now AI is the enemy. And right now ads and the online market have created a bizarre world where numbers are totally outside the consumer's ability to comprehend because our reaction to ads is paradoxically hurting us.

    The founder of Patreon did a TED talk where he showed actual screenshots of his own band's personal google ad revenue, with a video that received 30,000 views and generated zero dollars of income. He then showed a picture of a stadium with 30,000 people and asked "what world have we created where this is not enough people?". That's the world advertising lives in. Tens of thousands of views = failure; millions of views = only hundreds of dollars. As a consumer that means your (and my) time is worth absolutely nothing to the advertiser. They have no problems ruining our experience or our fun because one person is nobody, they care about millions not about individuals or hundreds of people or even tens of thousands of people. That is the world we have created with online advertising, the world with a product placement covering up the article we want to read or the game we want to play. And the more we use ad blockers and ignore the ads, the less we become worth to companies because the more total people it takes to find the un-blocked person who actually generate sales.

    In games and aps an additional issue is perception. When a full-price AAA game includes in-ap "macro-transactions" instead of "micro-transactions" the audience perceives the move to be coming purely from greed and responds appropriately. When a game follows the Fortnite/League of Legends/etc model of totally optional costume purchases only, they can charge as much as they want and no one feels it is greedy because it is optional. Gamers ask a legitimate question: "You (the game designer) made a game last year with the same budget as this new game and turned a profit on it for $60 flat, how is the $20 in-app purchase of my new costume anything but a ripoff just so you (the game designer or publisher) can buy a new car because you already got my $60 and that paid for your costs the same as the last game did?" So far, no game company has a good answer to that question.

    Now include the way app developers use psychology research to build the in-app store in a way that tricks the user. You rarely use money directly instead buying gems or coins or some other token that is close to a small unit of currency (penny in the US) but not quite. So the relationship to the currency is a vague idea it is not expensive, but no true idea that it is money. That is deliberate and manipulative and often linked to ads in a "watch this ad and get a few tokens or buy lots of them" offer. The question has to be asked, if greed is not the motivating factor for using these manipulative designs rather than clear pricing, then why use those designs? I have never yet seen a good answer to that question either.

  • storm Dec 26, 2018 Link to comment

    The best of the internet is information. And that is usually best had from enthusiasts, not businesses. Enthusiasts usually aren't focused on income in their area of interest. So the best info tends to be low or no advertising.

    The internet is at its best connecting people and so social media. But social media is a wasteland of actual information. Stay away from people in business in the internet and find where the enthusiasts are. You'll have a much better experience.

  • Albin Foro Dec 26, 2018 Link to comment

    Woodie Guthrie wrote the song:

    "Early in the springtime we round up the dogies
    Mark 'em and brand 'em and bob off their tails
    Whoopee ti yi yo, git along little dogies
    It's your misfortune and none of my own"

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