There we have it, folks - the pantomime that was 2018 is, for better or worse, drawing to a close. Outside the world of advertising we’ve seen a Royal wedding, a daring Thai cave rescue, France win the World Cup, North Korea promise to denuclearise and, perhaps most importantly, Harry Redknapp win I’m a Celebrity.

Oh and plenty of action from the main man Donald Trump.

But that’s not why we’re here today. We’re interested in marketing, advertising and looking ahead to the trends that we expect will define 2019. There’s plenty going on, of course, so we’ve distilled it down to a list of the top 5.

Advertising Trends To Look Out For in 2019

1. AI To Hit Its Stride

AI and machine learning have undeniably been among the biggest news stories of 2018. But 2019 will be the year of AI with headlines dominated by the tech.

By the end of next year the AI landscape will look dramatically different from how it appears now. At the moment AI and machine learning play an important but relatively muted role in advertising. This time in 12 months that will have changed.

Ongoing advancements in AI technology and applications mean that its place in businesses - including agencies - will be elevated. And though pure AI is still years away from existence, the use of “pragmatic” AI to inform and augment decision making, our own intelligence and personalise experiences will come to define 2019.

2. Online Video to Blossom Further

Video advertising is growing year on year, and it won’t slow down in 2019. Indeed, a recent Forrester report has said that by 2023 the video ad industry will be worth $103 billion dollars a year - up from $90.7 billion in 2018.

Unfortunately for television advertising, it doesn’t take a marketing prophet to predict that its share of advertising budgets will continue to fall. Though that’s not to say that advertisers shouldn’t continue to invest in the medium, especially with connected technologies like Sky AdSmart continuing to improve the targeting afforded to its customers.

YouTube is where the money will fall - its offering is cheaper and has a wider reach. Advertising on the platform is better than it's ever been, and we’re surprised it hasn’t taken off until relatively recently. And look to Netflix and Amazon Prime to features ads by Christmas 2019 - testing is already in full-swing.

3. Advertising to Become Increasingly Personal

More advanced personalisation is on the horizon - a trend inextricably linked to both AI and video marketing advancements.

Marketers are realising more and more the extent to which a typical user journey isn’t linear. The knock-on effect of that realisation is content and creative tailored to far more specific parts of the purchase cycle and delivered at the right time.

This process of personalisation is, unsurprisingly, being made possible by a greater quantity of data than ever before, managed in increasingly intricate ways.

By the end of 2019 companies still delivering mass campaigns with one message will have fallen behind those delivering campaigns comprising tens, hundreds or even thousands of small campaigns with tailored messaging.

4. Voice Recognition to Become More Intricate

Voice search has an issue of accuracy. Sure, voice assistants can understand the vast majority of what you’re saying to them, but the technology isn’t yet there to support complex applications.

That will all change in 2019. In the coming year we’re likely to see Natural Language Processing (NLP) reach new levels of sophistication. That means that chat bots and voice assistants will be better placed to understand the nuances of conversation.

It remains to be seen what the specific impact of this will be - how will Amazon choose to monetise its Alexa voice assistant? How can advertisers use the technology to smooth the path to purchase afforded by voice assistants?

We’re not entirely sure of the answers to these questions, but it’s almost certain that we will see at least part of the answer in the next 12 months.

5. Chatbots To Become Ubiquitous

We’ve touched on chatbots already, but they’re worth a mention all of their own. While these guys have been around for a few years, they’ve taken a little while to hit the big time. All that will change in 2019.

Better data and improved understanding will help chat bots take over. Of course, they can help to answer simple questions like ‘when will my package be delivered?’ and ‘what times are you open?’. But things are about to get more intricate.

Soon, bots will be far more capable of carrying out complex human “conversations”. Would you be happy for a bot to book a haircut or appointment? That’s soon going to be a question we more frequently need to ask ourselves. Then again, how long will it be before you know whether you’re talking to a bot or a human.