Digital marketing in 2019: Here’s where we’re headed this year
Brands that embrace emerging technologies and advertising formats - like connected TV, visual and voice search and AR advertising - will thrive in the new year.
From the rise of voice advertising to the connected TV revolution, there were major strides in the digital marketing space this past year. The momentum sparked in 2018 is on track to accelerate in 2019 as technology advances and our digital-driven world continues to evolve. Here are the top trends I expect to dominate the landscape in the new year.
As anticipated, we saw advertising via connected TV (CTV) become more prevalent in 2018, doubling its growth over the past year. Reaching 38 percent of video ad impressions in the second quarter of 2018, CTV overtook mobile, which accounted for 30 percent of video ad impressions according to Extreme Reach. With traditional cable subscriptions on the decline and CTV viewership consistently on the rise—projected to reach 190 million users in 2019 — CTV presents a modern-day vehicle for media consumption, offering unparalleled reach and targeting capabilities. In 2019, the upward trend will likely continue as increasingly more advertisers recognize the opportunity to precisely and efficiently reach their desired consumer demographic in ways that were previously not possible through traditional television commercials.
This year, Instagram launched its own YouTube competitor: Instagram TV (IGTV). Unlike fleeting Instagram Stories, which disappear after 24 hours, and traditional Instagram videos, which only allow users to record up to one minute, long-form IGTV content occupies a permanent home on the platform, with the capability of recording videos up to an hour in duration. Still, in its nascence, IGTV will cement its role in the social media landscape in 2019, demonstrating the potential to disrupt the video market with its unique branded content opportunities. Whether utilized as a platform for sharing instructional videos (a la Buzzfeed’s Tasty), or for showcasing interviews with key industry influencers, IGTV is a way for brands to meaningfully engage with followers and stay relevant in today’s rapidly changing social media environment — all while harnessing the power of video to reach audiences with impactful messages in an increasingly fragmented market.
Artificial Intelligence and chatbots
Artificial intelligence (AI) is another pivotal trend to watch in 2019. According to Salesforce, 51 percent of marketing leaders are already using AI in some form, and more than a quarter will begin using AI technology in 2019. It’s no wonder: AI provides enhanced analytics that helps marketers more efficiently plan and execute campaigns. Specifically, Business Insider notes that artificial intelligence can be used to better perform keyword tagging, segmenting and tracking in current campaigns. As marketer adoption increases, we will see the technological capabilities of AI continue to improve. One major way this will take place is through chatbots. Powered by AI automation, bots are reshaping the way customers interact with brands. Available to answer queries and provide helpful direction, chatbots move website visitors through the customer journey and offer a personalized experience — all while leveraging machine learning to improve their interactions over time. Odds are, by the end of 2019, chatbots will become the norm on business websites across a broad range of industries.
Augmented reality advertising
It’s no secret that shopping online offers comfort and convenience, but until recently, it faced one chief obstacle: the fear of a purchase not being the right fit — whether a pair of sunglasses, lipstick shade or living room couch. Augmented reality (AR) technology has emerged to help brands solve this problem for customers — and many have capitalized on its capabilities. For instance, Wayfair and IKEA allow customers to visualize what furniture items would look like in their home and Sephora enables customers to upload a selfie and “try on” makeup. Thanks to the “Amazonification” of our world, consumers are opting to buy online now more than ever before and AR is propelling the e-commerce industry into the future with a model that makes advertising not only personalized but fun for the user. With Facebook recently introducing AR ads — following the lead of Snapchat — we have only scratched the surface of what this technology can accomplish, and we will no doubt see advertisers continue to push the boundaries of AR innovation in the coming months.
When 2018 kicked off, we predicted that the emerging popularity of voice-activated devices would encourage advertisers to venture into new territory with voice advertising—and indeed, they did. Today, millions of people use voice devices to ask for information, compile shopping lists and place orders with ease — and advertisers are starting to take notice. But this is only the beginning. According to ComScore, an estimated 50 percent of all searches will be conducted through voice by 2020, leaving a wide-open opportunity for brands to take advantage of this shift by developing creative voice campaigns using distinctive phrases, jingles or even by borrowing recognizable influencer voices.
Also, given that a majority of voice searches are expressed in natural language—unlike text queries, which tend to be shorter and only include a few keywords—voice provides advertisers with greater context surrounding the user’s needs. Ultimately, this allows brands to more effectively tailor ads and landing pages to the exact information the user is seeking. Search engine marketing (SEM) advertisers need not fear this shift in search format: they are already prepared for the rise of voice, so long as they are bidding on short-term keywords that are relevant to the business.
Another up-and-coming form of search, visual search enables consumers to capture photos of desired products with their smartphones and locate similar items within a given store’s inventory. Home Depot and Urban Outfitters have already tapped into this new arena on the retailer side, and platforms including Pinterest, Bing and Google have rolled out search functions that allow users to locate items inspired by objects in the real world. For instance, if you are looking to emulate the trendy pair of sneakers your friend is wearing, you can take a picture of them and obtain a list of results that closely mirror the style of shoe, with the option to purchase. Exhibiting revolutionary application possibilities, it will be fascinating to see where visual search takes us in 2019.
In today’s fast-paced, on-demand society, innovation drives progress at lightning speed. Brands that embrace emerging technologies and advertising formats will thrive in the new year, remaining ahead of the curve, while those focused solely on tried-and-true traditional models may well find themselves lost in the shuffle as competition for consumer attention infinitely increases.