4 Digital Marketing Trends to Watch in 2019
Today’s post is featuring guest author Sara Carter from Enlightened Digital.
Technology is iterative in nature. For every new invention or insight into the digital world of the future, there are a thousand ideas just below the surface waiting to be uncovered. This past year brought around some exciting cycles of innovation that promise big things for marketing technology (martech) in 2019.
Even with lower levels of spending on martech in 2018 as more brands brought digital marketing in-house, CMOs are still forecast to spend a staggering $122 billion by the year 2022. Ramping up for that growth and capitalizing on the need for companies to remain competitive in an increasingly interconnected web of brands and consumers, technologists are making greater strides in some of the industry’s most sought-after tech.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
Augmented reality is normally viewed through a smartphone or other device and projects a visual overlay onto the real world. Virtual reality, on the other hand, deposits a user in a virtually-constructed scenario or program initiated via a self-contained headset.
Although they’re similar concepts, brands can use the sister technologies to achieve different objectives. Augmented reality is especially helpful for creating an interactive experience that fleshes out a brand’s impact in the real world, such as a virtual tour. Virtual reality, by nature, creates a more wholly immersive experience. This can be leveraged to run a contained program that helps the user suspend reality. This has been most commonly used by brands to enable consumers to test or try their products in a safe, stable environment, imagining the myriad possibilities that would come from a purchasing decision.
Looking to the future, experts predict even more growth in the VR and AR sectors. AR, in particular, is fast becoming a more affordable option for marketers looking to get a foot in the door. With a 32 percent forecasted increase in AR users by 2020, this could be an incredibly lucrative market for brands.
Blockchain is another tech buzzword that’s becoming more widely familiar across industries. A decentralized, encrypted digital ledger, its ability to store records securely and transparently is especially advantageous in the world of marketing.
The technology is currently used to prevent fraud in media buys and advertising partnerships, which is incredibly helpful to larger companies that frequently outsource to third-party vendors. Additionally, blockchain is being used to a smaller degree to curate and share inclusion lists of publishers, as well as to provide avenues for freelancers to distribute content across their network and get paid instantly.
The technology is not without its stumbling blocks. Experts argue that the theoretical nature of blockchain in its current iteration makes it difficult to determine its eventual impact or inherent value in the digital marketing sector. Author and industry leader Alex Tapscott argues that if companies develop compelling applications, they “can make a real impact.”
He also states that blockchain has “already proven itself robust and adaptable in dozens of high-impact use cases.” This adaptability may propel blockchain into mainstream marketing use in 2019 and beyond, changing the way we view data collection, monetization, and advertising standards forever.
One tech sector that has definitely moved from theoretical to practical use recently is artificial intelligence (AI). One of the most powerful tools in data analysis and automation, AI empowers marketers through its ability to perform tasks at scale and independent of human intervention. Through its extremely malleable nature, AI has found its way into hundreds of niche applications across dozens of industry sectors.
Technology leader Mark Hurd seconded this flexibility with a prediction for the future. “We see AI as a core feature that will get embedded into virtually every solution, every application,” he stated at a recent keynote.
He went on to say that “the opportunity to turn all of that data, into knowledge that helps you sell more, that helps you save more: AI will affect both.” AI and machine learning-powered solutions are set to become a welcome reprieve for beleaguered marketers in search of a helpful tool to parse data down into actionable insights that deliver competitive value.
The Internet of Things (IoT), or a network of interconnected devices that collect and share information, has helped to bring voice search into focus. Consumers are now searching for and making purchase decisions about more types of devices than ever before. By 2020, experts predict that half of all search queries will be conducted via voice search.
As more consumers use virtual personal assistants, smart home devices and faster 5G connections to make brand connections, marketers will have to work hard to optimize their content to deliver well across voice search queries as well as local search results.
Marketing budgets are largely determined by performance. CMOs and other professionals need to take a good look at the martech landscape to determine which areas of emerging tech hold the most value in terms of measurable outcome for their campaign and brand-specific needs.