Digital advertising (specifically banner advertising) turned 25 in 2019, and one thing’s for sure; change and development are par for the course in this sector. With a bright, freshly-unboxed new year ahead of us, we thought it was an ideal time to start the team’s crystal ball reading skills and offer our predictions for the year ahead in digital marketing....
All aspects of digital marketing are becoming more and more automated. Aspects of bidding, budget management, and audience targeting are now being handled more effectively by automated processes and machine learning than by humans.
This can be great in many cases… however, it's definitely not a magic bullet. Google ads still require specialist know-how to ensure they're set up and managed in a way that will provide the greatest value for brands. A set-and-forget strategy is never going to bring about the best results in the digital marketing space.
What automation does do is free up capacity for marketers to provide specialist insight, advice, and coaching for clients - taking a more holistic approach to a client's digital marketing efforts, rather than solely focusing on their search ads alone. We've found significant benefits in our client relationships over the past year from taking this approach, and expect to develop this further in 2020.
AMP, AMP, AMP…
What’s that, you say? - “Accelerated Mobile Pages” - you might have noticed the articles you click on in your Google Discovery feed, or in Gmail, or via Google News or other mobile apps open up in a mobile-optimised browser designed for speed and simplicity. These are most often Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP’s for short.
AMP is an initiative spearheaded by Google to ensure user-first format for web content, optimised for mobile devices. It helps web pages load on mobile much faster than standard mobile browsers and has the advantage (for Google, that is) of keeping the user within the app they’re using and within Google’s ecosystem.
The adoption of AMP and similar platforms like Facebook’s Audience Network by major publishers are only going to grow in the next 12-24 months. Key questions for businesses to consider are around the use of AMP for their own websites and blog pages - this will assist with SEO and site performance metrics on mobiles. Something to think about for 2020!
The Decline Of The Website
Wait, what? We're digital marketers, what are we talking about; “the decline of the website”? Note, we didn't say the “decline of the web” - So, what do we mean? - In the last year or more, we've definitely noticed the rise of Google providing information directly in search results. Rather than directing searchers to individual web pages, Google is more frequently giving the information searched for directly in its own results, or SERP (search engine results pages). You may have observed this yourself when searching for movie times, nearby cafes, or weather reports - Google gives you the information in its own answer results, without you having to take the next step to visit the websites themselves.
This means that less and less traffic is coming through to websites via search - In 2019 an average of 50% of Google searches DIDN’T result in a website click. We expect this trend to continue, especially as Google rolls out its advanced shopping ads (which allow payments directly in Shopping Ads) and continues to build features into its My Business platform.
Staying with e-commerce, we expect Instagram to roll out their direct shopping features in NZ in the next 12-24 months. Instagram Checkout allows users to purchase products directly on Instagram, without leaving the app itself. It works using the product-tagging feature that is already available, but adds in the extra functionality of handling the payment for that product directly on Instagram itself.
We expect these direct-shopping features to be a boon for e-commerce businesses, especially those with a strong Instagram audience following already. However, it is another step in reducing interaction with a brand’s website, and of course, they also provide a method for Google and Instagram to “clip the ticket” on sales made using their payment gateways - increasing costs for advertisers.
Video will be huge in the coming 12 months as more and more platforms are evolving and taking-off which are video-first-focused.
The growth of the use of these platforms amongst younger people (I’m talking 10-20 year-olds here) is unstoppable, so watch for the ongoing growth of YouTube and prepare for TikTok, and the related marketing opportunities inherent in both platforms in 2020.
Also, as we've seen this year, there’s been a huge development in placements on social channels and the ability to customise these ad placements for each channel and target audiences. We think there will continue to be development around customisation of ad creative natively within ad platforms.
Every day, more and more people are using voice search on their phones and home voice-enabled devices like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home. ComScore predicts this year that 50% of all searches will be performed by voice.
Therefore, it’s important to start optimising for voice search. We recommend utilising longer conversational-based queries in your ad keywords, as user’s natural speech contains more context than typed searches.
In addition to this, local SEO is three times more likely to be triggered by voice search than traditional search because the majority of mobile devices know your location. For 2020, we recommend working to optimise keywords for what, why, when, where and who-based searches.
The Impact Of 5G
This will probably bring a bigger change to the digital space than most of us have grasped yet.
It was pointed out to us recently that 4G brought us the likes of Instagram, live mobile streaming video, and more apps and features we currently take for granted. 5G networks literally blitz 4G on speed and bandwidth, and so they promise to unlock far more opportunities and innovation for connected devices, and for digital advertising.
We're approaching "the internet of things" that's been talked about for a while now, but has never quite materialised. And yes, we’re talking about your fridge ordering your groceries for you, or traffic safety being vastly improved because pedestrian's devices are constantly connected to the cars around them, providing real-time positioning to self-driving vehicles. All this and more is what 5G networks will enable… we wait and see what the next few years hold in this space!
We’re excited about the year ahead, and the next 10 in the digital marketing space. Let us know what you think about our predictions and areas to watch in the comments below, and get in touch to chat about making the most of these changes in digital marketing for your business in 2020.