The digital revolution reached warp speed in the last decade. Ten years ago, things like AI, big data, video streaming, and even ad retargeting were either non-existent or in their infant stages. Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine how a business can be successful without harnessing these and many other digital tools.
The bottom line is that today’s digital landscape is almost unrecognizable from where it was in 2009. So what sort of digital trends can businesses expect in the next decade? LRW’s digital analytics team draws upon its experience with CMOs across industries to share what the 2020s have in store for digital marketers, digital researchers, and digital strategists.
If personalized ads learned to walk in the 2010s, then they’ll hit a full-on sprint in the 2020s. Even with privacy concerns over location-based targeting, consumer reliance on mobile devices will only continue to grow in the coming years. As long as people use their phones to search for products and services “near me,” brands can and will take advantage of these personal, in-context advertising opportunities.
Short-form video advertising is another digital trend from the 2010s that should continue to thrive in the 2020s. With Gen Z consumers watching an average of 68 online videos per day, this is already a fertile ground for digital marketers. But with an explosion of video on social media platforms (if you’re not already familiar with TikTok, start getting familiar now!), brands will have exponentially more opportunities for product placements and branded content.
The next decade’s digital ad trends won’t only revolve around placement and creative opportunities; they’ll also exploit new sources to get smarter about ad strategy. Voice assistants, for example, should continue to grow in popularity. And while Google and Amazon haven’t announced plans to place ads on their popular voice assistant platforms, they’ll still offer marketers plenty of data that they can use to make smarter strategic decisions. Imagine a world where consumers have a direct line of engagement with businesses – the ability for consumers to provide feedback and get questions answered, or learn more about products while they’re in a store making a purchase decision. Voice assistants will provide this sort of conversational medium, deepening brand connection and offering opportunities for brand differentiation along the consumer journey.
The most successful brands of the next decade will strike the right balance between brand marketing (measured by brand affinity) and performance marketing (measured by sales).
Building a brand has already evolved beyond spray-and-pray advertising touting product benefits and general brand attributes. Over the next decade, consumers – especially younger consumers – will increasingly expect brands to stand for more than just profits. Smart brands will identify more and more opportunities to publicly espouse their values. But as social media algorithms shift to favor paid content over organic content, companies will need to rely more than ever on paid media to spread their messages.
Similarly, it won’t be enough for marketers to overwhelm their audiences with steady volumes of targeted ads. Their marketing messages will need to tap into emotional connections through digital video and other social media content. Social media influencers will continue to be driving forces in this marketing world, but brands will need to invest more in doing their homework to make sure these influencers align well with their values.
Data-driven decision-making is nothing new in the business world, and it will continue to drive critical business decisions for the foreseeable future. But what will be new are the types of data that brands will primarily use to make decisions and measure impact/ROI. More specifically, industries that rely on digital analytics will see more emphasis on behavioral data, as opposed to simple demographic data.
Behavioral data, which comes from actual consumer engagements and actions (purchases, website visits, location, etc.), will offer more answers as to what decisions consumers are making, and when combined with direct consumer feedback, will help explain why they’re making those decisions and not others. These insights won’t come strictly by observing consumer behavior; they will require engaging directly with consumers. Researchers, therefore, will place more value on qualitative and quantitative methods through behavioral segmentations, brand tracking, online communities, or a combination of any of these. By applying these techniques, researchers will gain more cultural, attitudinal, and emotional context behind consumer behaviors.
Innovations in digital analytics will also paint a clearer picture of existing and potential customers. By integrating behavioral data with machine learning and automation, for example, businesses will be able to simulate outcomes based on hypothetical marketing decisions. This new evolution towards unified media mix modeling (MMM) and multi-touchpoint attribution (MTA) will help brands make ultra- efficient marketing decisions through optimized media spends across different channels.
The same way that B2C businesses will continue to push the envelope on personalization, the same strategies will play a much larger role in the B2B space. The days of one-size-fits-all blanket insights have been replaced by a new era where customized research helps each business understand its specific target audience. And as AI and big data analytics grow more sophisticated, custom insights will become standard practice for businesses big and small in the coming years.
Moreover, the best insights suppliers will do much more than simply run the numbers. They’ll help businesses put those insights into action by helping their partners activate sales and marketing strategies – even the development of product/service innovations and customer experiences.
Digital transformation and big data have been a couple of the biggest buzzwords of the last several years. But even the most digitally savvy firms – those that “walk the digital walk” – will need help uncovering the right insights, then translating them into actions that build their brand and grow their business in 2020 and beyond.