Digital Marketing 2019 Review & 2020 Predictions
With 2019 behind us, we’ve been reflecting on another year in the Digital industry and the number of changes that shook up the Digital Marketing landscape. Revium’s Digital Marketing team share their insights from the past year, and their predictions for how these changes will shape Personalisation, Paid Media, Data and consumer expectations in 2020.
Personalisation is on the rise in digital marketing, with 80% of consumers indicating they are more likely to do business with an organisation that has personalised experiences. Research from Adobe Digital Trends also indicated that more marketers saw Personalisation as a priority into the future. This may explain why many companies focussed on maturing and optimising their personalisation strategies over 2019, as more importance was placed on data-driven tactics instead of more generic audience segmentation using assumed demographics or interests alone.
We can only see the focus on personalisation intensifying as we move into 2020, which brings us to our next prediction...
AI Driven Personalisation
This year we will likely see a stronger presence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Marketing Personalisation, with 28% of respondents to the aforementioned Adobe survey stating they are using, or are planning to use, Artificial Intelligence (AI) for marketing purposes in 2020.
From personalised website experiences to campaign material and advertising, Personalisation will become more common and more automated on a larger scale thanks to a rise in AI technology and Personalisation tools.
As personalisation becomes more time and cost efficient, this strategy will likely be adopted by a much larger percentage of Digital Agencies and Marketing teams - making it a necessity for any Digital Strategy in order to keep up with the pack.
We observed a pivot away from hyper-segmentation this year as a ‘best practice’ approach to biddable Paid Media. The old model of strict keyword definitions within ad groups being best practice has been relaxed. Targeting algorithms, once trained via machine learning, work better if you relax your grip on the reins to allow the algorithm to find audiences that may convert but are otherwise excluded under the old model. This Machine Learning (ML) capability has seen great improvement in Facebook campaigns and with Google’s Smart Bidding Strategies.
In 2020 and beyond, we expect Marketers will need to get used to relaxing control over the nitty gritty work of targeting and let the model do its job. This is a paradigm shift for the role of Paid Media Marketers, who will need to focus much more on leading the strategy of their campaigns while they leave some of the heavy lifting up to the ML model.
Conversational data is being used to train chatbots to understand user intent and answer queries effectively, in real time. It can also be used to analyse survey data that incorporates text responses to gain deeper insight into the audience of respondents. Customer data and NLP will give organisations a better understanding of their customers’ behaviour in the coming year, as well as their journeys to improve the users’ experience with their brand.
Google has already started to make this transition and apply NLP improvements to their search algorithm. The BERT update to Google’s algorithms allows it to better read natural language, and allows content creators to write as they would like to, not as they need to in order to satisfy a search engine’s limitations. For SEO, this means that content will shift away from tactical improvements, like targeting specific keywords, and toward strategic understanding of the target audience’s intent based on long-tail queries.
With the introduction of Natural Language Processing (NLP) tools or microservices, more companies will start to collect and incorporate conversational data into their analytics and processes.
Following the implementation of EU GDPR laws in 2018, 2019 saw organisations place higher importance on what and how data is being collected. Penalties for offenders of the GDPR have been publicised worldwide, pressuring local companies to work towards compliance. In Australia, with the ACCC’s Digital Platforms Report we have seen the signalling of the end of the wild west days of the advertising data economy.
The industry and its clients need to brace themselves for the roll out of regulatory changes and increased oversight over the course of 2020. The ACCC will roll out it’s digital arm this year. These changes will likely take some time to pass through government, so 2020 won’t see a huge shakeup akin to the GDPR earthquake that caused widespread repercussions for so many agencies and business across Europe, but it will be a good time to prepare of the inevitable changes to local privacy laws.
2020 will be the calm before the storm, and a good chance for the smarter operators to get ahead of the coming curve by reviewing and reworking their platforms, systems and processes to get the jump on the competition in 2021 where the rubber will really start to hit the road in terms of a tightening of data privacy and security
One of the more obvious changes to Social Media was the touted removal of “likes” from Facebook and Instagram.
Whether in response to growing pressure to do something about promoting self-esteem in online platforms, or the more sinister theory that it will increase engagement and get you to post more, the change is a significant one.
On top of this, other Social Media platforms are now emerging as serious players.
Emerging platforms like Tik Tok are expected to become more mainstream as people become more aware of them.
Tik Tok grew to 500 million active users in 2018 and is on track to continue its rapid growth. Brands currently have limited opportunities to promote their content on some of these newer Social Media platforms. However, we have already seen paid advertising added to TikTok and whilst it is in its early stages in the longer term it will offer brands another valuable avenue to reach younger audiences and develop brand awareness.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
Consumers are now interacting with devices in an entirely new way. The IoT now includes Home Hubs, Smart Fridges (and smart everything), TVs, blenders (apparently) and watches. This continued to grow in 2019 and adoption will continue to rise. In fact, there will be an estimated 20.4 billion IoT devices connected by 2020.
Home Hub devices in particular are of interest to Search Marketers and those trying to improve their organic traffic. The Alexas and Google Homes of the world respond to search queries like a normal search on your phone or computer, but only a single result is read out. This means that everything after position #1 (which can help drive traffic and brand awareness in standard desktop or mobile browsing) will no longer have any visibility for target audiences.
For home hub searches, the winner takes all, so optimising for ‘position zero’ results becomes increasingly important to brands looking to gain maximum exposure.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
We saw a large shift in Search Marketing in 2019, with Google’s improving ability to identify audience intent and deliver hyper-relevant content to them in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Success in Search will become less about who can manipulate or ‘game’ Google’s ranking system, and more about identifying your target audience with interesting, useful and informative content they want to consume.
Google will continue to improve their algorithms and quality guidelines even further to eliminate dishonest or manipulative practices in favour of outstanding content. Organisations should take note of this and not just for their organic traffic’s sake. According to Crazy Egg, an Advertiser has less than 15 seconds to capture a user’s attention as most people leave the website after that.
I expect the 15 second benchmark to get a user’s attention will reduce further, closer to 10-12 seconds, as consumers become less and less patient and more digitally savvy. Advertisers need to be focusing on their owned assets to ensure they are customer centric and able to almost instantly meet their customer’s needs.
In summary, focusing on creating the right kind of engaging content that draws users in from the moment they hit your website will become increasingly necessary. Getting users to your page is hard enough in a competitive market, so be sure that your online content will keep them there.
The Digital Marketing landscape is ever-evolving. What works one year, or one month, may change as consumers and the platforms that deliver ads and content to them change frequently. Keeping up with these shifts is a time-consuming process as each marketing niche has its own nuances, so getting the best out of your marketing may require a diverse marketing mix and a thorough understanding of the data behind it. Staying ahead of the curve with the best Digital Marketing knowledge will be key to success in 2020.