The race is on to find the next creative digital advertising trends.

We can all agree this is the future frontier of advertising, and everyone wants to be good at it. Most of the old ways of creating effective ads are outdated now. So what can you do instead?

We’re going to answer that by taking a look at the best recent creative advertisements and seeing where they point us next.

Humanity in creative digital advertising trends

We live in a time flush with technology, and we are in a perpetual effort to keep up.

Truly creative digital advertising trends also have to keep pace. In fact, you could argue that the definition of creative advertising is to stay a step ahead of the pace.

In the coming year, we can expect more augmented reality. We can expect digital video advertising in our messenger apps. Advertisers and content creators need to find new ways to cut through the noise and connect.

Again, we ask: how?

Cut through it all by connecting to the humans behind the devices.

Top Creative Digital Advertising Trends - Star Wars and playing make believe

Star Wars may be a multibillion-dollar industry, but isn’t it just about the kid in us all playing make-believe?

Show off the tech, but connect to who we are.

Connecting the product to a diverse range of ages and backgrounds is a trend in the advertising industry

This ad for the Google pixel 2 AR Last Jedi stickers is immensely effective. Look at all the dots they connect.

Love of fantasy. Nostalgia for the IP of Star Wars. Diversity. Our mobiles devices. They are also advertising technology trends.

Despite incorporating all of that, the Google Pixel 2 AR is still just scratching the surface.

For a much deeper cut through the tech and to the bone of our humanity, take a look at this ad from Samsung India.

This one is both immensely popular, and an excellent indication of creative digital advertising trends

With over 150 million views now this was one of the best creative advertisements of the last year.

The story is simple. A service tech for Samsung goes out to a remote location to fix a customers device. What happens from there is unexpected.

What Samsung touches on here is the ability to find the humanity in our technology. To put the human experience first. The power of the emotion drives the effective ad.

Here is another good advertisement in much the same vein:

Good advertisements like this one give us hope about a person or situation

The tech of the future is front and center again in the magic window device. The purpose? To help an isolated and sick child. We learn a little about how the tech works.

Top Creative Digital Advertising Trends - Highlighting new technology

Another creative digital advertising trend is highlighting new technology

More important than that we learn how it can help someone in need. Is that the only purpose of the magic window?

No. Of course not. It's the right one to lead with given this creative strategy in advertising.

What is digital advertising?

Before we go much further let’s answer this question.

Digital advertising, or digital marketing, is marketing products to consumers primarily through the internet, mobile phones and other digital media.

To put it another way, digital advertising ISN’T a commercial on TV, or the radio. It isn’t an ad you see in print, or in some sort of poster form. Digital advertising just what it sounds like. Advertising that happens in a digital space.

This Wikipedia entry on digital marketing is a good deeper dive. This is also a cool breakdown of the different forms of digital advertising.

If you have concepts for a digital campaign in mind, you’d be best served to put it all together into what is called a creative brief.

The best creative advertisements feature diversity

Diversity is a hot-button issue in our society once more. Our mobile devices plug us into the news, even if filtered via Facebook.

This has made us more aware. Aware of how we are different, and how we are treated differently.

Using our diversity as a springboard for creative advertising ideas works. Not just our diversity in background, but also our diversity in thought.

Take a look at this spot from Heineken:

The best creative advertisements surprise us.

Bring together people with extreme differences. Ones that tap directly into the most hotly contested issues of today.

Then show them connect. The future of advertising may in part be debunking what we think separates us.

Top Creative Digital Advertising Trends - Using the product to bridge a gap between two people

This creative digital advertising trend uses the product to bridge a gap between two people

As our political and social landscape becomes even more fractured, more ads will seek to comfort us. They slip their product in, suggesting that it is the salve to our rash of troubled times.

Check out this Nike ad:

For Nike, pushing boundaries is one of their core creative advertising ideas

Nike's branding, via Wieden + Kennedy, has always been about pushing boundaries. In this instance, the fields of play are the same, but the boundaries very different.

With an upbeat tone, this becomes an effective ad for suggesting the power of the individual. For celebrating diversity and breaking down barriers.

Brand over product is a powerful creative digital advertising trend

It's time to ditch the big pitch. Sorry, Don Draper.

Top Creative Digital Advertising Trends - Don Draper on the nose creative strategies in advertising

Sad Don Draper wants “on the nose” creative strategies in advertising.

We're too savvy as consumers to go for the stuff that used to work. Weave your product into something bigger. Something we actually care about.

Take this piece from Budweiser, part of a much larger trend:

Effective advertising isn’t always about the product.

What happens here is Adam Driver delivers some good news to a fellow service veteran and his family. It's emotional. It's apolitical. It's an effective advertisement.

Top Creative Digital Advertising Trends - Best creative ads end in an unironic group hug

Some of the best creative advertisements end in a non-forced, unironic group hug

It's got nothing to do with beer. Unlike the Heineken spot, they don't even clink glasses at the end to celebrate what's happened. Even that would be too gauche in this context.

They just hug. The creative advertising idea here is that the moment is bigger than the product.

All Budweiser did here is take an initiative and put its brand on the 'event'. This is an emerging creative trend in digital video advertising.

Here is another powerful example in the same vein from Always:

Note the creative digital advertising trend of minimizing the product to focus on a message

Again, notice the absence of product. We don't need a hard sell on why we should use Always. Instead, we got an exploration of how we treat girls and women.

One that we won't forget.

This creative digital advertising trend doesn't have to tug at our heartstrings.

The best creative digital advertisements connect people of different walks of life to one product

In this case, the product comes up at the end. Most of the ad focuses on regular people, people like us.

The common thread weaving through each of these creative trends is connecting people. People connect in the ads, but the ads connect to us as people.

Top Creative Digital Advertising Trends - Advertising is a chance to make us feel more human

What is digital advertising? Lately, it’s a chance to make us feel more human.

Again, amid the growth of technology something very human demands a voice. The view counts for these ads state as much in plain numbers.

Can the best creative advertisements save the world?

Eh... don't bet on it.

Yet many of the best creative advertisements out there right now are also agents for social change.

There are many possible reasons why. One could be our current climate. One could be that a popular demographic is young people. They are very active in the mobile and digital spaces.

In either case, this campaign for the New York Times attempts to address a lot of the chaos around us.

Addressing the turmoil of the time is a major creative digital advertising trend

The implication is that the New York Times' role in good reporting is critical. Whatever you believe on that front, the presentation of the case is compelling.

It is also in line with the current creative digital advertising trends.

More subtle, but far more powerful is this excellent work from Procter and Gamble.

This is one of the best creative advertisements out there

Procter and Gamble is a massive American multi-national. Yet no product is being sold here at all.

Rather Procter and Gamble is doing some branding. Addressing racial intolerance as it affects and endangers children humanizes the multinational. It creates a rush of powerful deep feelings where otherwise none would exist.

How many Americans even know what products Procter & Gamble creates? They won't know more after watching this ad.

They might feel something they didn't. They might care about someone they didn't. That is the creative digital advertising trend we are really starting to see a great deal of.

And they might look at Procter & Gamble in a different light. At least, that might be the idea.

Top Creative Digital Advertising Trends - Hardships so many children face

This advertisement brings into focus the many hardships so many children face.

In a time of social unrest, corporations are choosing sides. Yet it isn't only altruism that leads corporations to social change.

Public outrage and boycotts may not make a dent in the bottom line, but they affect public perception. We know multinationals don’t have ethics.

Being in line with the views of younger demographics and newer customers is important.

Wrapping up: what makes the best advertisements the best?

While the trends, mediums, and messaging are ever-shifting, people seem to come back to the same things.

Feelings and themes of connectedness are going to continue to be what makes the best creative advertisements.

Acts of heroism, simple kindness, even silly things we all do each day connect us.

Even in the trivialness of our daily lives, we seek connections. Instagram launched this brilliant campaign that puts us all in the same little boat.

This fun campaign connects to the exact same creative digital advertising trends the more somber ones do

Most of us aren’t launching space shuttles. We're launching pizza slices.

Top Creative Digital Advertising Trends - Instagram and launching pizzas

And the tech that has brought us even closer together has done so in the mobile and digital space.

Instagram is a product about sharing our lives. However silly, strange, and small.

But we've seen many brands attempt to connect us. To different races and genders. To different worldviews. To different places.

Where do you think brands will try and connect us next? Will they keep trying to remind us of our humanity through our tech? Or will we finally start to become “more machine than man”?

Top Creative Digital Advertising Trends - Darth Vader may be “more machine than man” but according to today’s creative ad trends we aren’t there

Darth Vader may be “more machine than man” but according to today’s creative ad trends we aren’t there... yet.

Millions of view counts don't lie. As we merge more with our machines, we seem to long even more for what is human.

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