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Brief Published: 8 May 2017

Forrester Predicts the End of Ads

Ads on The Outline

According to a new report from UK research firm Forrester, "society doesn't need advertising like it used to". The report predicts that $2.9bn will be taken from display advertising next year as marketers invest in new models of engagement – from artificial intelligence, to content marketing, to intelligent assistants such as Amazon's Alexa.

Forrester backs up this pronouncement with some sobering stats: 38% of US adults have ad-blocking software installed, while 47% avoid mobile in-app ads. At this year's South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas, we heard some even more significant metrics from Josh Topolsky, editor of recently launched online news platform The Outline. He stated 56% of all online ads are either not visible on screen, or not visible long enough for humans to actually register them.

The Outline's fresh approach to online advertising – bespoke ad content personalised for the platform's small, but highly engaged audience – is paying off. In an Outline blog last month, Topolsky wrote: "Not only is our interaction rate 13x industry average, our click through is 25x what a normal ad does."

Clearly, then, there is still worth in reimagining online ad formats, as Topolsky has done. But consumers are increasingly shifting behaviours to platforms and environments where interruptive ads are redundant. As the Forrester report suggests: "Once they can get what they want without leaving themselves open to interruptions – whether through voice interfaces or AI-driven background services – they will feel even more hostile to ad interruptions than they claim to today."

For more on new ad formats and the future of digital engagement, see our Industry Trend Invisible Marketing, as well as our reporting from SXSW 2017.