The state of digital advertising: Where should your money be in 2018?

By Chloe Mark | February 2018


We are well into 2018 and are now able to observe what trends are actually happening. This is a wonderful time to assess the state of your marketing and advertising budgets and determine if they are being spent in the right places. We pooled together insights from some of the top advertising resources out there and summed up what you need to know as a digital marketer.  

1. The focus is on digital

Let's get to the point: Over half of all advertising budgets will go towards digital efforts by 2020. 'Nuff said, right? Digital isn't just an asset to your advertising strategy, it will soon comprise the majority of it. Keep this in mind when deciding between TV vs. online video, print vs. digital and the like. And get better at it now, before everyone else gets there first.

2. With an emphasis on search and automated PPC

In terms of digital power, it still lies in search results as people start with Google to find what they need. A big shift now is in how much more of the work normally done by paid search specialist is now automated. AI can handle ad rotation and creation, bid optimization and display ad extentions. According to Search Engine Land, this means workers in the PPC field will spend less time on monotonous tasks and instead will need to leverage more human skills:

"Those who are analytical and inquisitive will be even more valuable as checks against machine learning algorithms that inevitably won’t always live up to their promise and in making machine learning and technology more powerful for their organizations." – Ginny Marvin, Search Engine Land

3. Big data informs niche markets

With more and more data available to advertisers, we will rely less on intuition and stereotypes and more on concrete evidence of behavior and narrow audiences. MarTech advisor puts it like this: there has been a "major shift from buying ad inventory based on property to a focus on buying ad inventory based on the actual user." It's not just about demographics anymore, but rather actual patterns of an individual's behavior. This means more specific messaging and less outreach that goes to waste and overall greater impact. 

4. Once you found them, nuture them

According to eConsultancy, many online advertisers receive complaints that their high levels of leads don't actually produce sales. Though we have been told time and again about the importance of nuturing leads, it's harder said than done and we need to implement more effective strategies to ensure actual follow through. One solution eConsultancy offered, especially for B2B marketers, is to work more closely with the sales team. This has also been preached before, but if this isn't engrained in the company workflow, it simply won't be effective. 

5. Big co.'s keep things in house, accept for niche skills

At face value, this isn't the best news for advertising agencies as they depend on big companies to outsource ad campaigns to them. One reason for this is in sales: it's been shown that the more intimately aware a team is with their audience, the higher the quality of the lead and the better bang for the company's buck. It also means greater accountability when something goes wrong. 

However, in-house teams likely can't specialize in everything, and when the ad world is calling for innovation and excitement, companies will need a highly talented team. Advertising agencies will have to demonstrate they can overdeliver and produce more with the same budget. They can also show they care about specific audiences and results as much as any in-house team. 

6. (speaking of skills) People still love unique, well-made videos

Calder Bateman shared that they used to debate whether or not people actually watch commercials. Now the data shows, they do, and the ad agency has made it "almost an automatic addition to any campaign." What advertisers need to consider is how that video can translate to multiple mediums and still stand out. 

7. Another note from video world: Stand for something good (and against what isn't)

YouTube (and Facebook for that matter) has gotten a wake up call and we can all learn from it. You can no longer be a company offering services without being somewhat responsible for what happens with those services. Some of the most notable YouTube stars have posted inappropriate or downright offensive content and YouTube has decided to do something about it. Although they thrive of video views, they are distancing themselves from negative content and instead supporting more "steady, true celebrities..." If you're not doing so already, follow YouTube's lead and recognize that the power of your brand and what you support go hand in hand. 

8. And a note from Snapchat: They're working on it...

It's hard to predict if Snapchat will ever get back in the game. They are enabling a few new features – like swipe left for friends' content and left for editorial and news – but since Facebook and Instagram keep replicating Snapchat's ideas, it's not certain it'll help. If you can come up with a winning ad campaign on Snapchat, more power to ya, supporting them. But you might be safer sticking with FB or the gram. 

9. Overall = Get to the point

With all the clutter, people need to know what you're trying to do and they want to know it now. Get rid of misleading calls to action and false promises and tell them what the offer / agenda is. You can still include creativity – hello Super Bowl Tide Campaign – but the actual message should be concise. 

In short...

As a company seeking the best ad campaigns or an ad agency seeking new clients, consider why you matter and go from there. Pay attention to the numbers, but remember the individual behind them is most important. Be innovative. Follow-up. Stand for something good. And get to the point.

That's either what we can conclude about the state of advertising or maybe just how we should live our lives. Either way, best of luck!

If you need help considering how to spend your digital funds – whether it be PPC, video, nuturing campaigns or what have you – reach out to us. We've been following the state of digital advertising for over 20 years. 

Topics: Marketing Strategy, Digital


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