Digital Advertising Then and Now: An Insider’s Look into How Far Advertising Has Come in 25 Years


Digital advertising has come an incredibly long way over the past 25 years. It all started with the banner ad. Then digital advertising really began to pick up momentum with the advent of programmatic and real-time bidding. And more recently, we’ve seen mobile and OTT/CTV advertising make huge impacts on the industry.

Kristina Knight with BizReport recently sat down with CEO and industry thought leader Frost Prioleau to get his take on how far the digital advertising industry has come in 25 years and what changes we might see in the space in the future.


What changes in the digital ad space have most surprised you over the past 25 years?

Frost Prioleau: While progress and the growth in digital advertising has been fast, I’m surprised that is hasn’t been faster. As we all recall, it was the “year of mobile” for about 5 years before mobile advertising really accelerated, and the long-anticipated migration of TV advertising budgets to digital is just now truly gaining momentum.

I think it is a lesson that change is hard and takes time, but it will come eventually if the benefits are to be had.


How have digital ads impacted businesses? And do you see this as a positive change?

Frost Prioleau: Digital advertising has had a major positive impact on businesses as they now have a far better ability to target precise audiences, and now have deeper insight into how to boost brand awareness, foot traffic, click through rates, and ultimately, increase ROI. The digital advertising industry is diverse — brands now have the opportunity to leverage multiple channels like OTT/CTV to reach their target audience, and even attribute in-store foot traffic to their campaigns.


What changes might we see over the next five years?

Frost Prioleau: Digital advertising, and programmatic advertising in particular, has grown up as a series of disconnected point solutions, with budgets, optimizations, and attribution separated by type. First it was desktop display, then mobile, and now OTT/CTV, DOOH, Native, and more. Over the next five years we will increasingly see the move to “omni-channel”, where advertisers can combine different targeting methods and various media types into integrated campaigns, and automatically optimize budgets between them to maximize the advertiser’s KPIs. We will also see the continued digitization of TV and TV advertising. This is a trend that will take years to play out.


As more and more consumers buy online, how do brands need to change what they’re doing to compete so that they find and engage with the right shoppers?

Frost Prioleau: With the OTT/CTV advertising growing quickly, marketers looking to stay one step ahead of their rivals must be able to successfully reach consumers across OTT/CTV devices with relevant, personalized ads. This means that brands — especially national brands — are going to want to ditch the butcher knife and opt for the scalpel to achieve the level of precision and granularity that is needed to be successful when it comes to audience targeting. With consumers increasingly choosing streaming over traditional linear television, having the capability to target the big screen in the living room and the small screens such as mobile devices and tablets is extremely important in a competitive market.

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