Future of Digital Marketing

In the rapidly evolving realm of digital marketing, adaptability is not just an advantage—it’s a necessity. The future of digital marketing is unfolding before us, shaped by technological breakthroughs, changing consumer dynamics, and innovative strategies. There are key facets and trends set to redefine the landscape of digital marketing in the years ahead.

1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) Integration

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are poised to revolutionize digital marketing. AI-powered algorithms analyze vast amounts of data, providing insights that enable marketers to make more informed decisions.

From personalized recommendations to chatbots offering real-time assistance, AI and ML are enhancing customer experiences and streamlining marketing processes. As these technologies continue to evolve, businesses that leverage them will gain a competitive edge in understanding and engaging with their target audiences.

2. Voice Search Optimization

With the rise of virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant, voice search has become increasingly prevalent. Optimizing content for voice search is crucial as more users rely on voice-activated devices for online queries.

Marketers will need to adapt their SEO strategies to accommodate natural language queries, long-tail keywords, and local optimization to ensure their content is discoverable through voice search.

3. Interactive Content Marketing

Traditional content marketing is evolving into a more interactive and engaging experience. Interactive content, such as polls, quizzes, and augmented reality experiences, captivates audiences and encourages active participation.

This trend not only enhances user engagement but also provides valuable data for marketers to tailor their strategies based on user preferences and behaviors.

4.Video Dominance

Video content has been a dominant force in digital marketing, and this trend is set to continue. With the popularity of short-form videos on platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels, marketers need to focus on creating compelling and shareable video content.

Live streaming, virtual events, and 360-degree videos are also gaining traction, providing immersive experiences for audiences.

5. Personalization at Scale

Personalization has been a buzzword in marketing for some time, but advancements in technology are now making it possible to achieve personalization at scale. AI algorithms analyze user behavior, preferences, and past interactions to deliver personalized content and recommendations.

Businesses that can tailor their messaging to individual consumers will build stronger connections and foster customer loyalty.

6. Blockchain in Marketing

Blockchain technology is not limited to cryptocurrencies; it is making waves in marketing as well. Blockchain ensures transparency and security in transactions, making it valuable for digital advertising.

It addresses issues such as ad fraud, ensuring that marketers get what they pay for and that ads reach their intended audience. As concerns about data privacy and ad fraud continue to grow, blockchain has the potential to reshape the digital advertising landscape.

7. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)

AR and VR technologies are creating immersive experiences for consumers. From virtual try-on experiences in the fashion industry to interactive product demonstrations, AR and VR have the power to transform how consumers engage with brands.

Marketers can use these technologies to provide unique and memorable experiences that set their brands apart in a crowded digital space.

8. Inclusive Marketing

Inclusivity and diversity are no longer optional in marketing; they are imperative. Consumers are increasingly drawn to brands that authentically represent a diverse range of voices and perspectives.

Inclusive marketing goes beyond representation in advertisements; it involves creating inclusive content, supporting social causes, and fostering a sense of belonging among diverse audiences.

 

From the integration of AI and ML to the rise of interactive content and the push for inclusivity, marketers must adapt and innovate to connect with their audiences in meaningful ways. By staying informed and agile, businesses can navigate the evolving digital marketing terrain and position themselves for success in the years to come.

Contextual Revival

With the cookie deprecation on the horizon and consumers demanding both privacy and relevant ad messaging, contextual targeting is having somewhat of a revival.Contextual targeting has been a viable digital advertising tactic for years, allowing advertisers to target their ads according to the content of a webpage instead of user IDs or behavioral data.  It can help advertisers reach the right people at the right time.  And 7 in 10 consumers want and prefer personalized ads.  For example, if someone clicks on a YouTube video about waxing cars, they may receive a video or banner ad for car wax.

There are different types of context used for digital ad targeting:

  • Category contextual targeting: Places ads based on general categories, such as beauty or automotive or finance. This is the most basic form of contextual targeting, and its relative broadness means it isn’t always completely accurate.
  • Keyword contextual targeting: Places ads on web pages based on specific target keywords.  This type of contextual targeting provides you with more flexibility—and potentially more accuracy—when placing ads.
  • Semantic contextual targeting: A more advanced technique, as it typically uses machine learning to analyze the context of a given web page and determine whether an ad is a good fit.

What’s next for the revival of contextual marketing?  Currently, over 3/4th of marketers use contextual advertising as a work-around to the decline of device IDs and third-party cookies.  This trend will only increase in 2024.  Especially, considering the data showing contextual ads are 50% more likely to be clicked on than non-contextual ads.

Ad-Supported OTT Growth

While linear TV is slowly declining, there is growth in ad-supported OTT-CTV.  Seeking profitability, streaming services are raising subscription rates and getting more aggressive with advertising.  Almost all streaming services now offer ad-plans.  Viewership of those services has also greatly increased.  Initial ad costs were high but have softened, although not enough to make up for the large divide between linear TV ad costs and streaming ad costs.

Peacock, Paramount+ and Hulu lead the way in ad-supported content, but Amazon’s Prime is expected to make a big splash in 2024 with its advertising plan.  How things shake out in 2024 with streaming video in general will keep advertisers challenged.

2024 Outlook

Consumers are predicted to spend over 12 hours daily with media in 2024—about 60% with digital media.  Just ten years ago, this was traditional media’s percentage. Nonetheless, traditional media—led by TV—remains a big part of the equation.

In 2024, we’ll continue to see a fragmented media landscape with more niche networks and platforms delivering more and more content. Audience engagement will be more difficult than ever with consumers spread out across different channels.  Example:  From 2021-2023, the number of individual TV programs has grown to over 1.1 million. Combined with an explosion of streaming services, the video landscape alone has quickly become vast.

More content will lead to more time spent with media but also increased fragmentation.  Marketers will be challenged to achieve the target audience reach needed for their brands to grow and succeed. It will be more important than ever to adjust the media mix to reflect the growing fractionalization.

2024 is also a presidential election year, which always makes marketing more difficult for advertisers, especially in swing states like Ohio.  With issue-based ad spending expected to increase double-digits compared to the last presidential election, the key to success will lie in continuously monitoring and adapting to the ever-changing marketing landscape, while keeping the customer at the forefront of all strategies and initiatives.

 

AI and Marketing

There are now over 250 companies competing or collaborating for the AI space as it relates to marketing.  Needless to say, AI has the marketing and advertising world’s full attention.

Next-generation artificial intelligence burst onto the scene in 2022 with the debut of ChatGPT and DALL-E 2, both from Silicon Valley AI pioneer OpenAI. ChatGPT has now grown into a near-overnight sensation, reaching a million users in just five days and hitting 100 million active users faster than any consumer app so far.

One of OpenAI’s biggest early investors, Microsoft, has since poured an additional $10 billion into OpenAI while beginning to introduce a host of new AI-powered features, including a ChatGPT-powered version of the Bing search engine.

In turn, Google—the first company to utilize large language models (LLMs)—has introduced its own AI chatbot, Bard, while promising new, soon-to-launch AI-powered features in Google Search, Gmail and more. There’s also Meta that has spent nearly 10 years and billions of dollars on AI and has taken to touting its LLaMA as a powerful open-source language model.

The evolution of AI use for image creation by one of the many new generation AI companies, Midjourney, is pretty astounding.

So, how will marketers use next generation AI? 

The Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute recently published this list of questions to help identify if there is a case for AI use in a marketer’s marketing.

AI is or allows for smarter marketing technology or systems that builds smarter businesses.  Every marketer should learn how to use it to their advantage.  Agencies, advertising and PR, shouldn’t fear it if they become AI integrators for their clients—much like how agencies became Internet/digital integrators when the Internet came about.

Based on what we see and know right now, marketers and agencies should definitely be considering new-generation AI in their tech stack.

 

How Americans Are Listening

There’s the perception that radio is being overcome by streaming audio platforms like Pandora and Spotify, especially among younger audiences ages 18-34.  New research from Nielsen debunks that perception and shows that radio isn’t just viable but is the only audio medium capable of reaching large numbers of all ages.  That’s true of ad-supported and non-ad supported platforms.

As marketers we are only interested in ad-supported channels.  Radio’s impact is even more pronounced when comparing reach among ad-supported options for audio marketing campaigns.

Like the reach comparisons, radio’s impact is also more pronounced when comparing time spent with ad-supported audio.

Radio use spans the bulk of the day, reaching consumers on the path to purchase; it is the dominant audio source in the car.  A daily habit for millions, radio is a particularly effective medium for advertisers due to its legacy of reaching listeners during the prime hours of the day while they are out of home and closest to the point of purchase (commuting, working, shopping). Furthermore, radio is also the top audio source in the car. More than 60% of all time spent with audio in vehicles goes to AM/FM radio as of the Q1 2023 Edison Share of Ear study.

Americans are still listening to radio in large numbers and it’s one of the few mediums capable of high target audience reach for marketers.

Meta’s Threads

There’s been a lot of buzz around Meta’s latest new social platform Threads, Meta’s version of Twitter.  While paid ads are not yet an option, it’s very likely to be one in the future through paid Facebook/Instagram accounts. In the meantime, here are some great points to be aware of from an organic perspective and initial set-up:

  • The app has more than 90 million downloads as of midway through 2023.
  • An Instagram account is required to set up a Threads account – read on for more implications before doing so.
  • If a Threads account is created but then the decision is made to delete the account, the associated Instagram account will be deleted as well.
  • Instagram username, contacts and other related information will be pulled from your Instagram account.
  • You will be able to automatically follow all the same contacts you follow on Instagram, which means your Instagram followers will also easily find you on Threads.
  • Threads’ posts allow:
    • Up to 500 characters (Twitter limit is 280)
    • Links, photos, and video can be included – video can be up to 5 minutes (Twitter limit is 2 minutes 20 seconds)
  • Currently there is limited functionality:
    • No direct messages.
    • No edit button.
    • No open API – currently not able to connect to third-party tools to schedule content.
    • No advertising as yet – but we have it on good authority it will be available in the future.

Should your organization have an Instagram account you may want to consider setting up your Threads account to secure your username and be discoverable.  I also recommend an initial post.  It could simply be a greeting and statement that you are exploring the best ways to use this new platform and encourage folks to follow you on other platforms.  Be sure to include links to those platforms.  Be sure to only include links to those platforms that you update regularly.

 

Influencer Marketing

An industry-wide anticipated report each year, Influencer Marketing Hub has released the annual 2023 State of Influencer Marketing results showing growing importance for the tactic according to U.S. marketers.  80%+ have dedicated influencer marketing budgets for 2023; more than 2/3 have increased budgets for 2023.

Notable Highlights

  • Influencer Marketing Industry is set to grow to approximately $21.1 Billion in 2023
  • 63% plan to use AI in executing their influencer campaigns, 2/3rd of these brands will use AI for influencer identification.
  • Nearly 60% of influencers felt they faced discrimination in 2022.
  • Over 83% of our survey respondents still believe influencer marketing to be an effective form of marketing.
  • 71% admit to having increased the amount of content they produce and share.
  • 67% of those respondents who budget for influencer marketing intend to increase their influencer marketing budget over 2023.
  • 23% of respondents intend to spend more than 40% of their entire marketing budget on influencer campaigns.
  • There is a strong preference for working with small (nano – 39% and micro – 30%) influencers ahead of expensive macro-influencers (19%) and celebrities (12%)
  • It is now the norm to pay influencers (42%), rather than just give them a free product (30%).
  • TikTok (utilized by 56% of brands using influencer marketing) is now the most popular influencer marketing channel, jumping ahead of Instagram (51%) for the first time, and well ahead of Facebook (42%) and YouTube (38%).

Fast Channels

Traditional TV continues to drive audience reach but streaming platforms like free ad-supported streaming (FAST) are growing in popularity with viewers. In the second half of 2022, FAST channels made up 30% of total ad views in the US, proving that FAST and other over-the-top (OTT) services offer advertisers other vehicles to access audiences.  There’s been a substantial increase in programmatic deals in the US driven by greater CTV adoption and the rise of FAST channels.

FAST channels have redefined distribution in a way that no other platform has before. It has opened the floodgates for publishers to monetize content while giving viewers the experience they crave – a live linear experience like having a cable subscription. Currently representing 50% of all OTT ad views, FAST channels will only grow.

CTV is highly fragmented, but when seen in the collective it represents over 70% of ad views in the US.  With premium video consumption continuing its steady climb, advertiser interest in the medium is expected to continue to increase, with more brands diverting to premium video as
one of the most effective strategies for connecting with highly engaged and targetable audiences.  Programmatic views continue to grow in the US, with guaranteed deals
promising to deliver a specified number of impressions as the preferred purchase practice.

TV Seasonality Viewership

It’s true that TV viewership reflects the availability of what people want to watch.  Minus the Super Bowl, February 2023 had fewer high-demand, mass-appealing programs than January, which led to declines in viewership across broadcast, cable and streaming.  January is always a banner month for TV viewing, highlighted by the culmination of the NFL season, which sets the bar very high.

Streaming platforms remained the favored destination for TV audiences, but overall viewing to streaming content was down 0.9% from January—the smallest decline across categories. Despite the drop in total streaming viewing, the category gained 1.5 share points to account for 34.3% of TV usage.

Within the streaming category, Tubi TV became the latest service to achieve a 1% share of TV usage, joining Pluto TV as the second free, ad-supported platform to be broken out from the “other streaming” category. Other streaming highlights in February included:

  • New Amsterdam was the most-viewed streaming program, with 4.6 billion viewing minutes across Netflix and Peacock.
  • The Last of Us was the second most-viewed program, with 4.4 billion viewing
    minutes on HBO Max.
  • Viewing on YouTube (main) was up 2.5%.
  • The arrival of a new season of You on Netflix generated 4.2 billion viewing minutes, but overall usage on the platform was down 6.7%.