2020 Digital Marketing Trends

I work for Effective Spend, a digital marketing agency in Austin that specializes in SEM, SEO, social media and Amazon marketing. I sat down with our founder & CEO, Brian Wulfe, and below are the top 5 trends that he sees as critical to our clients’ success in 2020.


Top 5 Digital Marketing Trends for 2020:

1. More In-App Experiences - As social platforms work to create better in-app experiences to keep their users active and engaged, retailers can take advantage of these features to help grow sales. For example, earlier this year Instagram debuted Checkout, which provides a seamless shopping experience by allowing users to browse and purchase products without ever leaving the platform’s interface. While this feature benefits Instagram by keeping users from leaving their app, Checkout also benefits retailers and ecommerce brands by providing a faster, simpler purchasing experience that can lead to better conversion rates. Although Checkout is still in a closed beta, Instagram is anticipated to release it on a larger scale in 2020. Digital marketers should keep an eye out for additional in-app shopping experiences across all digital channels in 2020 and be ready to optimize their product feeds and ads for these features.


2. Expansion of Programmatic Advertising - Programmatic advertising, or the ability to serve ads to a target audience using automated, algorithmic targeting and bidding, used to be synonymous with online display advertising. However, programmatic ads are expected to expand substantially in both TV and Out of Home in 2020. As the number of connected TVs or “Smart TVs” continues to grow, Programmatic TV ads (PTV) will be critical for reaching audiences who can’t be reached via traditional TV. Additionally, marketers will see programmatic advertising further expand via Digital Out of Home, or DOOH. Traditional Out of Home media providers, like Clear Channel, are investing heavily in ad technologies that will allow advertisers to place real-time ads on traditional out of home media, like billboards and other signage. By combining these new adtech capabilities with powerful audience profiling and smartphone geolocation, DOOH offers advertisers the ability to serve highly targeted messages in a medium that has traditionally served broad, homogenous audiences.


3. Influencers Shifting to New Social Media - Going into 2020, social media influencers are at a real disadvantage. Mature social networks like Facebook and Instagram are greatly restricting organic brand reach in favor of paid ads. This means influencers are seeing big decline in their ability to reach new people and grow their audiences on established social networks. If influencer marketing is a critical piece to your digital marketing strategy, it will be more important than ever in 2020 to find influencers on new social media platforms (think, Tik Tok) in order to keep your influencer channel healthy.


4. SmartBidding is Getting Smarter - Google and Facebook have significantly expanded their AI-based ad targeting and bidding capabilities over the last year. Algorithmic, or “SmartBidding” options like Google’s Target CPA are able to learn quickly from past data and optimize ad spend toward the top converting search queries, ad creative, audiences and demographic segments. Going into 2020, digital marketers need to think of SmartBidding not only as a tool to drive high lead volume but also as a way to drive high lead quality. To achieve this, marketers need to feed these hungry algorithms more data in two ways: 

  1. More overall data points - track all the important activities users are engaging in on your site - video views, button clicks, PDF downloads, other sign-ups, etc. 
  2. Lead quality info - connect your CRM data directly to the digital channel to tell the algorithm which conversions were junk and which ones became qualified leads and sales. 

The more engagement and lead value information you feed the algorithm, the more insights it can crunch on to optimize your ad spend toward the leads that are most likely to turn into paying customers.


5. Creative as a Key Performance Driver - Digital channels like Google and Facebook are taking more and more control away from digital marketers when it comes to audience targeting, and both channels are moving away from manual bidding capabilities. Additionally, ad algorithms for mature channels like Google and Facebook have become very good at understanding which ad image and copy will drive the best click through and conversion rates. With these shifts, creative is emerging as a serious performance driver and carrying equal weight to other key drivers like placement selection and audience targeting. To be successful, advertisers will need to overhaul their creative design process with a data-first approach. They’ll need to analyze the performance metrics of existing creative, identify where the gaps are and then design new creative to directly address gaps in performance.