Screen Shot 2019-03-11 at 5.40.48 PM.png

Irina Papuc

Activation Partner

Screen Shot 2019-03-11 at 5.19.57 PM.png

Zach Boyette

Activation Partner

The 4 Must-Know Digital
Marketing Trends of 2019

The landscape of digital marketing is hurtling towards automation, machine learning, and 24/7 insights. It’s undeniable. In 2018, Google ramped up its already aggressive march towards automation, with their goal to “[put] machine learning into the hands of every advertiser.” Facebook has been rocked by recent news regarding the intrusiveness of their data harvest and machine learning practices, notably the

Cambridge Analytica scandal.


Scandals aside, we are entering a new age of advertising technology that will grow at an unprecedented scale. It’s vital for businesses to understand how their competitive landscapes will change, and how they can take advantage of new tools and platforms before they are outperformed by competitors.


Given our close relationships with the industry, we have insights into the upcoming trends that will shape paid media marketing and SEO over the coming years. Here are our top insights and predictions for 2019.


1. Hello, audio ads.

Over 27  of the online population uses voice search on mobile devices. And over the last two

percent years every major tech company rushed to bring a voice search device into the homes of users - most notably Google Home and Amazon Echo. The future is here, and it may be screenless - it is predicted that 30-50 percent of queries will be made via voice by 2020. With that comes the influx of voice ads - which you may not know that you’re already paying for! Google, Amazon, and other major platforms have already begun including ad results in their voice platforms, a new source of impressions and a fundamentally different user experience. In 2019 and beyond, we predict that major ad platforms will allow for independent segmentation with voice ads, potentially even creating standalone internal products that cater directly to spoken ads.


What does this mean for you? Being an early adopter of voice ads can be a huge opportunity for your business, but first you need to rethink the way you position your brand. People react differently to spoken versus written communication, and ads are no exception. Voice ads are a simpler, more casual medium, where trust and brevity are paramount. Rather than cramming the max amount of buyer-relevant info into the character limits, you will need short, simple messages that speak to a user’s immediacy and attention span. Because voice ads lack a landing page, they will occupy a position near the top of the marketing funnel, focusing on brand awareness and interest.



2. Goal-oriented spend will replace click-oriented spend.

In the early days of paid media marketing, you had two payment options: CPM (cost per impression) or CPC (cost per click). This eventually evolved into automated bid strategies - Target Cost per Acquisition, Target Return On Ad Spend, etc. But the core charge remained the same: you pay for eyeballs or clicks. Google made waves in December 2018 with the announcement of pay for conversion bidding. Originally released in beta only for the Display Network, this setting allows you to pay only when your desired conversion action occurs - making it a safer bet for growth. In 2019, we predict Google will expand coverage to YouTube, Search, and Shopping, and Facebook will be close behind.


What does this mean for you? Taking advantage of pay per conversion actions, especially when tested on lower-volume channels such as Search and Shopping, will require laser focus on ad copy, landing page experience, conversion rate optimization, and user flow. If you aim to outcompete, it will no longer be enough to simply bid more than your competitors.


3. [Specialized] content is King.

Gone are the days of the jack-of-all-trades content writer, juggling articles between industries and topics. Content is your brand’s authority stamp, a chance to delight and engage your readers. It’s vital in 2019 that you incorporate content creation into your SEO program from day one, and invest in the best writers you can afford to produce it. Well-crafted, evergreen content is an investment that will drive organic traffic for years to come, and with a bit of maintenance and updates over time, will stand the test of time.


What does this mean for you? Going beyond hiring generic writers will be key for any business. Take the time to find great writers with a proven, published portfolio in your niche. That expertise will pay back in dividends as it builds your site’s authority, drives user engagements, and earns organic backlinks.


4. Quality, earned, relevant backlinks still matter.

In 2016, Google’s Andrew Lipattsev confirmed that the top three ranking signals in Google’s search algorithm are content, links, and RankBrain. Of these three, we can truly control the quality of our content and the relevancy of our backlinks. And whilst it’s still more common than not to find link-building agencies that pay for backlinks (be wary of a link-builder who guarantees a set number of links a month, or any link for that matter), be aware and up to date with Google’s policies against link-building schemes.


What does this mean for you? Aim to build content that earns links on its own. Research the skyscraper method and learn to apply it intelligently to your space to build content that’s better than what’s already out there. However, the best content strategy comes from internal company data, from offering insights to the world that are uniquely your own. If you’re a real estate company, dig up some real estate data and build white papers around it. That’s the idea. The more you rely on your own unique insights for content, the more you gain an edge.

How Non-Profit Brands Competing with PrivateSector Brands Can Thrive

by Giovanna Blackston Keren

What's the Big Idea?

by Andrew Salzman

Related Thinking