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8 of the biggest digital advertising trends

2019 was a huge year in the digital advertising industry. Global advertising spend hit $560billion, representing 4% year-on-year growth, while brands themselves faced a number of unique challenges as the needs of consumers continued to evolve.

The growth and evolution of the industry showed little change of slowing down with forecasts of a 5.2% rise in 2020.

Then the pandemic struck and even through uncertainty and crisis management, digital advertising came out on top as a crucial channel to reach online audiences as footfall in the physical world decreased.

2020 disrupted us all and disruption can be good, we’ve seen that in the innovative ways businesses have adjusted and succeeded so what are some of the biggest trends set to have an impact going forward?

1. Conversational Marketing 

This is the model where brands engage consumers in real-time, capturing their needs and intuitively connecting them with solutions. Users are increasingly demanding fast answers, specifically 42% of users expect a response within five seconds.

This has been around for a while with many brands investing in a live-chat option on their website or using inbound phone support. For those brands with smaller budgets and without the resources to dedicate to live-chat, the big trend is the use of chatbots powered by AI and machine learning. 

This ensures brands can employ conversational marketing tactics to keep up with the needs of their consumers through the use of a marketing tool that promises both automation and happy customers. 

2. Consumer Privacy 

This one simply isn’t going away. The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is still relatively fresh as is California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), ensuring that businesses on both sides of the Atlantic need to be thinking about privacy in their management of consumer data. 

The trend we’re expecting to see is more and more marketers making privacy a priority by putting customers at the core of their strategies and emphasising 1st Party Data collection to inform these consumer-focused approaches.

Whilst consumer privacy is often deemed a blocker to marketing communications, the flipside is that communicating to a consensual audience will have better performance.

3. Wearables 

Wearable technology is steadily becoming ubiquitous. Additional players have been making their way onto the market since 2019. The capabilities of the wearables themselves are increasing in line with the growing importance of health data and the insights that can be gleaned from this. 

The back end of 2019 saw the acquisition of Fitbit by Google for $2.1billion leading to serious questions about how existing health data will be used for Google’s ad proposition and whether this will even be the case. Both Google and Fitbit have denied this stating that users will have control over their data, everything will be transparent, and it won’t be used for advertising. Watch this space. 

4. Mobile 

Yes this trend has probably featured on trend predictions for the last five years, but the simple fact of the matter is that the use of mobile is extremely prevalent, and it isn’t going anywhere soon.

Crucially, over 51% of smartphone users have found new brands or products while searching from their mobile device.

Alongside this, location-specific digital ad campaigns are 20x more effective than traditional banner ads that aren’t location based. Of course, mobile has been around for years now meaning marketers optimising their campaigns for mobile devices is the bare minimum.

Combining them into a location-based strategy with the use of geo-location technology such as Geofencing is where the trend will really continue to grow. 

5. Insights-driven marketing 

A detailed understanding of your consumer should always be at the core of your digital advertising strategy. How often brands revisit this could be central to their performance. 

Specifically, intensive users of customer analytics are 23 times more likely to clearly outperform their competitors in terms of new customer acquisition than non-intensive users, and nine-times more likely to surpass them in customer loyalty. 

Use your reporting, website analytics and social listening tools to achieve this. Leveraging historical data with the insights you’ve captured during the pandemic period will be crucial in determining the best campaigns and areas of investment.

Remember, the demographics that buy and consume your products will have changed and evolved. You simply need to stay ahead of this curve and tweak your proposition, ad creative and campaign targeting to effectively optimise your digital advertising with them in mind. 

6. Martech 

Brands have a wide choice when it comes to finding the right Marketing Technology (Martech) for their business to improve their management of digital media, experiences and data. 

The wealth of choice means that it’s harder to find the right option for that specific business. With additional martech providers set to enter the market, this decision is becoming increasingly difficult for businesses with tight budgets. Get the right blend of martech and you’ll gain a competitive edge but if not you’ll miss out on the automation and insight your competitors are no doubt already enjoying. 

When it comes to choosing martech, you need an intuitive solution that works with the needs of your business, enhancing it in key areas to boost performance, efficiency and profitability. 

7. Enhanced data management 

Data points online continue to multiply at an intensive rate. The scope for marketers and advertisers to process that information, identify patterns, interpret trends and provide actionable consumer-focused insight will become increasingly difficult, especially with the rapid change in consumers’ buying behaviours.

Managing this is essential to find that unique insight to get ahead of the competition. 

This is where the use of AI and machine learning comes into play affecting areas such as lead scoring, persona insights, and customer segmentation. The right blend will do the heavy lifting to manage these data points to enhance the performance and efficiency of all digital advertising and marketing channels. 

This reporting functionality will come into play as brands look for that essential competitive advantage. 

8. Voice Search 

In 2018, there were over 34 million sales of smart speaker devices in the US alone. Users are becoming more accustomed to using these devices which will bring an upsurge in voice searches.

The challenge for brands is twofold. Firstly how to ensure the website is optimised for voice search from the products themselves, to category landing pages and blog content. The second challenge is the question of how they navigate the space for paid voice search ads. 

Understanding what the biggest trends are is simply the first part of the challenge. The brands that win will be those that apply these trends and insight to the unique needs of their consumers. 

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