The internet has drastically changed the advertising industry, and it continues to evolve as new technology and platforms are released.
"Advertising on the internet has become a double-edged sword," said Halli Bruton, content and social media account executive with Burdette Ketchum. "There are more platforms and places to advertise than ever before, but at the same time, consumers are being shown so much advertising throughout the day that it takes something special to grab their attention."
Advanced digital marketing technologies can help cut through this clutter and noise so your company can reach potential customers. Read on to learn more about some of the technologies changing how companies of all sizes reach, attract and capture new customers.
9 digital marketing trends that are here to stay
To become more competitive, your company can use various digital marketing strategies to gain an edge, such as the following.
Automation and programmatic advertising
Automation has found its place in nearly all facets of the internet, and advertising is no different. The internet provides a large data set on consumers, and there's no way advertisers can manually browse through all that information to build profiles of their ideal customers. Algorithms are essential for analyzing that material and putting it to use.
Automated advertising platforms save time and money by freeing up advertising departments that need to build and manage continual ad campaigns. You may see these referred to as programmatic advertising, which is the practice of delivering ads based on targeted audiences instead of distributing them in a wide and aimless fashion.
The automated platforms use data to bid on ad space, detecting which ads are performing better and then putting in more bids for those that result in more conversions. Of course, you set a cap on how much the platform spends on ad space. These automated platforms can be set to run until they reach your desired return on investment (ROI) for your digital marketing campaign.
The other end of this process is also likely automated, with algorithm-based platforms like Google AdSense automatically selling ad space for websites. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, about 20% of digital advertising business is done by one machine interacting with another, and that number is growing.
Sophisticated email marketing
Email is already a very powerful and effective digital marketing tool, made even more impactful with sophisticated targeting. The best email marketing platforms have already introduced advanced tools that support hyper-specific pinpointing of customer segments that are more likely to buy certain products over others. Keep in mind that too much email can exhaust customers and that there are better ways to get your message to people, such as emerging technologies that help boost your email to the top of an inbox.
Here are some examples of these innovations:
- BIMI: This is an authentication technology that helps reduce brand spoofing and indicates to recipients that your email is legitimate.
- AI: Artificial intelligence tools are making their way into email marketing through features like send-time optimization.
Social media and mobile
As of 2021, 72% of U.S. adults use at least one social media platform. It's a no-brainer to sell ads on social media. Fortunately, the major sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, have robust advertising platforms. Furthermore, a staggering 80% of users interact with social media on mobile devices, according to WordStream, which means that companies need to optimize their advertising for that medium.
The highest-performing ads on social media take advantage of geolocation technology on mobile devices, allowing for hyperlocal ads to target users within a predetermined area.
Video is also a growing area for advertising that's catching people's attention. According to Neil Patel, video ads on social media get much more engagement than non-video ads. On YouTube, viewers are 1.4 times more likely to watch and share ads on mobile. A popular type of video on social media doesn't require sound and uses subtitles, allowing non-disruptive viewing in public.
It's not just about advertising on the biggest social media platforms. Companies like Nanigans sell advertising space on various mobile apps and games, allowing advertisers to get in on the action if and when these fledgling apps go viral.
Native advertising is on the rise, with advertisements being integrated with popular content sites, bringing back the old line of "This program has been brought to you by …." Traditional advertising, depending on your audience, is falling by the wayside, especially with the rise of ad-blocking software. Advertisers need new, creative ways to get their messages to viewers and actually get them to listen.
Many advertising networks now include native advertising packages, offering opportunities for sponsored articles that blend in with the rest of a platform's content.
"Everything on the internet is branded, whether consumers realize it or not," Bruton said. "It has been proven to be more effective than other forms on the internet. Advertisers are expected to provide content that is engaging and either entertaining or insightful."
The goal of native advertising is to be nondisruptive to users, and companies like Adyoulike create ads that fit into a website's or platform's style and format.
Progressive web apps
Known as PWAs for short, progressive web apps deliver the capabilities of an app to the browser experience. Not only does this cement mobile's place as the most popular way to access the web, but it ensures a smooth customer experience no matter how your customers choose to access your products and services.
PWAs are getting more attention for their prioritization of the user experience, which can tank with even one second of lag. Prioritizing speed, ease of use and clarity is much easier with PWAs.
Augmented reality (AR) merges the real world and the digital world, bringing digital content to life in real-world surroundings. The mobile game Pokemon Go is an example of AR in action, in which the game's characters are projected onto the player's surroundings by simply pointing the device's camera into an area.
"The big boom of augmented reality is happening, as phone manufacturers are already developing AR-capable devices, and that creates a large window of untapped potential for advertisers," Bruton said.
Snapchat's various filters for photos are a form of AR, and they are becoming more impressive and already being used by marketers who create branded versions for the platform. AR offers many marketing opportunities for businesses.
While mobile is currently the king of online engagement, wearable tech, like the Apple Watch, is gaining traction and likely already being examined by advertisers.
AI is having a big impact on all areas of industry, including marketing. AI systems allow marketers to test out campaigns before dipping into their advertising budgets. One example of an AI marketing assistant that can use predictive analysis about pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns is a program called Albert.
Every year, advertisers utilize more and more tech advances. Marketers must stay on top of the latest tools of the trade to remain competitive and expand their reach.
The Search Engine Journal recommends that companies prepare their marketing campaigns to target those who rely on voice technology to conduct online searches. The use of virtual assistants is expected to increase, and marketers should adjust PPC campaigns to appear in searches that originate from voice assistants. Queries through voice technology are usually longer and have more keywords that can be built out.
Chatbots have gained popularity with customer service providers, but they can also be used by marketers. A chatbot automatically generates a conversation with a user in real time, with replies based on the target audience's answers. For instance, businesses can use chatbots to distinguish a website visitor's preferences on certain products, such as makeup or movies.
No matter how niche or fad-like, no trendy app, platform or device should be ignored for advertising potential. In a time when traditional advertising is continually being ignored by younger generations, advertisers need to evolve and adapt.
Looking to the future of digital advertising
Advertisers need to keep looking forward as the internet changes and new technology develops, but at the heart of any campaign is still its creativity. Good, effective advertising will still drive the messaging home. Even the best technologies can't ensure a campaign will be successful if the ads are not of quality.
"The internet has allowed good, creative advertising to be more effective, because it's easier than ever to find and track the target audience for optimal effectiveness," Bruton said. "However, if the advertising is bad, it won't matter how well the audience has been targeted."
Andreas Rivera contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.