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Another Year Over, and The New One Just Begun

It’s that time of year to look both backward and forward and sum up some of the trends we saw in our industry over the last year and predict where we’re headed in the New Year. 

We sat down with Creative Director Bryan Hynes and Chief Digital Officer Andrew Catalano to discuss how far we’ve come and where we think we’re going. Here’s their list of things that made an impact and predictions for what’s coming next. 


  1. Artificial intelligence (AI): In early 2019, there seemed to be ads everywhere that had references to artificial intelligence and jokes about “the robots taking over.” We still see that out there now, although in not as paranoid a way. People are becoming more aware that their data is being collected and what companies like Facebook and Google are doing with that data. The FBI’s recent report warning consumers about electronics made in China possibly doubling as eavesdropping devices hasn’t stopped people from purchasing everything from smart TVs to home voice assistants by the truckload. And the most advanced clients are asking for ideas on how voice can be used to drive their marketing campaigns, whether in higher education or financial services
  2. Ads that entertain: Younger audiences who have grown up with social media and phones attached to them at all times know when they see a traditional ad. We have to understand how to talk to the next generation; they have grown up with content that is user generated, and saturated with animation and design. Recent ads for Fanta (soda) and Trolli (candy) are great examples. They look more like Instagram story content and do very little in the way of selling. 
  3. Sociopolitical pressures: The firewall between how a company talks and walks is completely obliterated. We see this with fallout in everything from Nike and Colin Kaepernick to the Hallmark Channel’s recent reversal on a same sex couple in a wedding ad. Brands are being forced more frequently to deal with the fallout of their decisions.


  1. Integration of old and new: Using data gathered online to inform traditional media tactics drove tremendous growth in 2019. One example is how we were able to match our clients’ anonymous website visitors to a physical mailing address and deliver personalized offers direct to their mailbox. Expect to see automation and data analysis expand beyond the tactical and more into the creative and messaging side of the business. 
  2. Headsets and voice: Expect voice to be a major growth area for 2020, but a severe limitation is that tech firms haven’t quite nailed down the monetization side. AR and VR are both gaining steam with new “untethered devices” from companies like Oculus, but cost and practicality are still a big barrier to making these technologies widespread, which impacts their ability to be used as an effective advertising tool, for now. 
  3. New players: Rumors have been swirling that Amazon is getting closer to developing a search engine to directly compete with Google. If that happens, it could be a game changer.
  4. Still ticking: One thing that hasn’t changed over the years—paid search is still the most effective and efficient way to reach in-market consumers.

Overall, Bryan and Andrew agree: The core of what marketers do hasn’t changed. Our focus remains on building awareness, being top of mind and allowing customers to understand the value of your brand.  


Austin Williams is a fully integrated advertising and new york digital marketing agency, our in-house services include research, brand identity, campaign development, media planning and buying, website development, digital marketing, content creation and public relations. We are a financial advertising agency, healthcare marketing agency, higher education marketing agency, and professional services marketing agency.


Vice President, Public Relations


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