We're in the Q4 media-buying storm. A competitive advertising season is upon us, and this winter will be especially unique for a few reasons. The first is that 2017 has been a year in which innovation is accelerating. Just a few years ago, the concept of “big data” was abstract.

Today, ad targeting algorithms are more sophisticated than they’ve ever been because of data. Just look at the dramatic strides that platforms such as Facebook have made in improving the precision at which they reach their target audience. At the same time, technology has created ambiguity. What channels should you choose? Should you work with third-party data sources? Should you cast your net wide or aim for precision in your marketing and messaging?

These questions are tough to answer—and the clock is ticking. Black Friday, the retail event that drives high proportions of storefronts’ annual revenues, is fast-approaching. You’ll need to make strategic and tactical decisions quickly. Here are 3 trends to help anchor your judgment calls for what might be the most competitive year, yet.

1. Investigate and invest in new technologies for the long term

Octopi are known to be among the smartest, most multifaceted creatures to exist on this earth. They have three hearts and nine brains. They are complex in a way that human beings can barely fathom. They represent the perfect analogy for the world of advertising, which has evolved in a force with too many pieces for a single human to track. As retail-winter approaches, forward-thinkers will be prioritizing the long term just as much as the immediate sale. This piece on Adweek explores new technologies on the horizon.

2. Know that more doesn’t always mean more

Spaghetti-at-the-wall was, at one point, the norm in advertising. With an absence of sophisticated targeting options, marketers relied on a mix of semi-strategy and luck to reach their target audiences. But this was unsustainable. Not everyone who sees an ad will feel inclined to make a purchase. In fact, click-throughs from an irrelevant audience are the polar opposite of success—advertisers waste money by casting their nets too wide. Now, innovative companies are sticking to the age-old proverb that “less is more.” Digiday’s interview with PopSugar CRO Geoff Schiller explains how this concept can increase targeting precision and improve advertising efficiency.

3. Keep data collection a priority

Facebook and Apple are ready to take augmented reality (AR) mainstream, according to an article in Adweek. The point at which this transition takes place will yield a ripple effect throughout the world of brand marketing. AR brings a new milestone to advertising: people will soon be able to experience your brand and products in a way that is otherwise impossible with a display ad or blog. They’ll have a more tactile experience with your product.

How to prepare for this seismic shift? Prioritize learning moments—and data collection moments—as much as the opportunity to drive a sale. Study customers and learn how they’re engaging with your ads. Figure out what they don’t like. Remember that this Q4 will be a springboard to many more.

The Pumpt team is here to help emerging ad industry leaders stay on top of innovation, evolution, and growth in a rapidly changing ecosystem. In addition to sharing regular deep dives and career tips on our blog, we highlight notable stories from the worlds of digital media and online advertising to catch you up to fast-moving industry trends. Come back to the blog for more and follow us on Facebook or LinkedIn page.