Social networking is the biggest trend in advertising right now. Companies are using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social networks to advertise. Some companies put their commercials on YouTube, thus getting an extra bang for their buck. Companies also create Facebook pages and "talk" to their customers this way. Twitter is also a useful way to tell customers about upcoming sales and new products.
I would say the use of the internet is a big trend. Have you ever noticed that the SPAM mail you receive is usually related to something you have recently looked for on the internet. My home page even sometimes changes adds based on my search patterns.
One socially and environmentally relevant trend in advertising, which began before the economy hit its tailspin due to banking woes, that is "all to the good" is cause marketing that advertises a company's charitable, social and environmental activities. One example of cause marketing is Whole Foods market's advertising of its participation in alternate energy certificates whereby a customer can purchase a low cost certificate to acquire a small share in alternate energy production--we can't all buy a windmill farm but we can buy a low priced certificate from stores in which they are offered. When the economy turned sour, the companies that continued their charitable, social, and environmental contributions, activities and cause marketing, like Tide did with its laundry outreach program at disaster sites, continued to have highly favorable customer ratings in surveys taken. The results of the surveys were surprising to the survey administrators but Alison DaSilva of Cone explains it as reflecting the difference between companies that quickly responded to social and economical changes related to the economy's tailspin while continuing their cause participation and marketing and those companies which didn't.
I must admit I have no formal training in advertising or advertising strategy, but I have noticed several trends in that field simply by observation. One is the use of the repeating image. By that I mean things like the Geico gecko, the Afflac goose (or is he a duck?!), the sales lady at the Progressive store, and others. That used to be a much more common practice, say, twenty years ago. Now there seems to be a resurgence of this trend. Another is the continuing commercial--one which starts in one ad and continues in the next. (The most recent example of this is a parody of HGTV's HouseHunters for a car commercial. Driver tries all three cars, then chooses the best one. Graphics all parody HouseHunters, though Ican't remember which brand of car is "chosen.") Finally, I've been beaten over the head with increasingly obnoxious and obvious commercials for products connected to sexual issues. It's gotten embarrassing and ridiculous to see and hear so many flagrant references to such matters even during prime time shows on network television. I guess the trend, then, is to be more and more open regarding matters which were once private--as they should be, it seems to me.
The latest innovations are largely based on use of information and communication technology. A lot more use is being made of Internet advertising as compared to other media such as print media, TV and outdoor hoardings.
Within the Internet advertising, the new developments are making the advertisement more and more interactive and and customized to the profile of each Internet user.
One interesting innovation I personally came across as a consumer was a an advertisement in a newspaper about a week back in which a voice message was delivered. The advertisement by Volvo car had a small, flat and light device glued to the paper. As a reader unfolds the newspaper and the device is uncovered, it immediately starts playing a recorded message. I do not know how long back this kind of advertising was introduced in other places, but for me it is the latest innovation.