Online Advertising Trends

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Online Advertising Trends

Digital Marketing Trends

Online marketing continues to change rapidly. Much of the development involves increasing sophistication in consumer targeting, whether through better offerings from providers like Google or through developments in automation. What is interesting as well is the growth not just of specific offers but whole new channels and ways of thinking about online marketing, like micro-moments, the rise of long-form content, and mobile audio.

Search and Display Advertisements

Trend 1: Programmatic Advertising

  • Programmatic advertising is the automation of the buying and selling of ads.
  • It will continue to grow in dominance, as it affords higher conversion rates at a lower cost. Unlike manual targeting, which can take account 3-4 targets, programmatic ad platforms can take hundreds into account. According to one prediction, 86.2% of digital display ads in the U.S. will be programmatic by this year, or $65.63b.

Trend 2: Commuter Targeting

  • Google expanded their ability to target people recently, now allowing companies to target people who are "frequently" in that location. This is a useful feature for targeting commuters or travelers, even if they aren't in that location when the ad is presented.
  • According to Ted Ives, digital marketing consultant and CEO of SEMCopilot, "I do think in this case it will result in incremental high quality traffic coming in for advertisers. We live in a mobile world… that means people move around a lot; people we target during the day don’t disappear at night, they go home. Why not get your message in front of them there?"

Inbound Marketing

Trend 1: Long-Form Content

  • While short-form content is seeing a boom in popularity, long-form content continues to be very popular and serves different needs.
  • Marketers should use long-form content to build trust, credibility, improve SEO, and showcase personality. For example, long-form content gets 77% more backlinks than short articles, which helps drive organic traffic.
  • According to Medium, their most popular content takes about 7 minutes to read and is about 1600 words.
  • BuzzSumo analyzed 100m articles and saw that 3,000-10,000 word posts averaged the most social media shares. They were shared an average of 8,859 times, while content below 1,000 words averaged below 5,000.

Trend 2: Chatbots

  • A chatbot is a computer program that simulates human conversation, either via voice or text communication. These are increasingly key weapons in the inbound marketing arsenal, as they're able to reduce friction when it comes to engaging consumers.
  • For consumers, chatbots are a good solution to their impatience. The top benefits are 24/7 service (64%), instant responses (55%), and answers to simple questions (55%). They also don't forget your previous answers and automate repetitive tasks!
  • Brands are responding. By 2020, chatbots are expected to handle 85% of customer service, and in the US, 67% of millennials reported that they would likely purchase products and services from brands with chatbots. Some American brands that are already using chatbots include Lyft, Pizza Hut, Whole Foods, the Wall Street Journal, and Sephora.
  • By 2022, the use of chatbots will help businesses save $8b a year.

Social Media Networks

Trend 1: Metric Re-Evaluation- from Likes to Social Listening

  • According to Sprout Social, two out of three marketers feel like social listening will be crucial in 2020. They are more concerned about what people are talking about, rather than the likes or shares of a single post.
  • This is especially crucial as Instagram experiments with hiding or removing likes on a post.
  • According to Lisa Buyer, the CEO of The Buyer Group, "The new mindset is this: The relationship we build with our customers is more important than the products and services we sell them."

Trend 2: Video Content

  • Video content shows no signs of slowing down. YouTube is second to only Facebook when it comes to active users. While influencers are traditionally found on Instagram, many of them are expanding their brands to YouTube as well. In addition, the continued push for IGTV to take off is likely to show results. And of course, there is TikTok.
  • In the US, video content generates 66% more qualified leads a year. This is perhaps because 85% of Americans watched online video monthly. 54% of them want to see more video content from a business or brand they support.
  • In general, LinkedIn users are 20 times more likely to share a video than any other kind of post. Everyday consumers are likely to share too: 70% of them said they'd shared a brand's video.
  • If a site includes video, it is 50x more likely to drive organic search results vs. text, since people find that more engaging. That's likely why 72% of businesses agreed that video helped drive up their conversion rate.
  • Consumers like learning from videos. 52% of them said product videos helped them be more confident about buying online, and 68% of them said they preferred short videos above any other format for learning about a product.
  • This affects B2B as well. 65% of executives visit the marketer’s website when they are considering a purchase, but 39% will call after watching a video.


Trend 1: Micro-Moments

  • A micro-moment is "“an intent-rich moment when a person turns to a device to act on a need– to know, go, do or buy.”
  • The new trend is about reconsidering a linear purchase funnel, and instead ensuring that brands are optimizing hundreds of real-time, intent-driven micro-moments when people want something immediately.
  • These micro-moments offer real possibilities. 90% of smartphone users don't know the brand they want to buy when they first begin to look for information online. More than half of them had found a new company or product while searching on their mobile. And when brands do manage to provide information, they convert: 1 out of 3 smartphone users has bought from another company or brand (vs. the one they originally were thinking of) because the challenger brand had provided the information they needed at the time.

Trend 2: Mobile Audio Marketing

  • While the default is to focus on visual advertising, audio marketing is a huge part of the mobile landscape. Podcasting, in particular, is a fertile field for exploration, although it also includes apps like Headspace (for meditation).
  • 51% of Americans say they now listen to podcasts. That vast reach is powering the growth of the podcast advertising industry. Advertising revenue in the US should hit $863m in 2020, and be above $1b by next year.

Digital Marketing Case Studies

Research has shown that there is much to be said about using the latest online marketing offerings to boost results when it comes to more staid fields like healthcare. This is likely because the format of these offers boost the novelty and excitement that a more traditional approach might lack. They drive immediate engagement and make it easier for consumers to act upon their "micro-moments" rather than putting the onus on them to find out more in a category which may seem less engaging than others.

Cigna (Short-Form Content)

  • Cigna is a US-based healthcare with more than 165 million customers around the globe. They had a new Body and Mind campaign which encouraged people to sign up for checkups on their mental and physical health, and needed to grow awareness of it.
  • They used short-form content in the form of videos placed in Instagram and Facebook Stories as well as on the feed, featuring influencer Nick Jonas talking directly to camera. Cigna also found that these combined placements, vs. simply putting the video in the feed, generated far better results.
  • The campaign did extremely well. There was an 8-point increase in ad recall and a 2-point increase in favorability by the end of the campaign, and 120,000 more people were reached for a total of 14m people overall.

Roman (Shoppable Ads)

  • Roman is a US-based digital healthcare provider that specializes in men's health products. It's a one-stop shop for online evaluation, all the way to delivery and continuous care.
  • The brand needed to educate consumers about its new line of supplements, Roman Dailies. Because they needed to deliver thorough information about the product, they chose to replace their usual landing page with Facebook Instant Experience. This let them have a full-screen, fast-loading environment where users could immerse themselves in the product and read through all the answers to the frequently-asked questions. They could then click directly to purchase the product.
  • This led to far more sales than their usual strategy, with the same budget. The results? Sales doubled, click-through rate doubled, and there was a 45% higher conversion rate.

Research Strategy

The team consulted company websites, trade publications, and press releases in order to obtain the findings for the report. Specifically for the case studies, the team focused on published reports on Instagram and Facebook that showcased successful campaigns in either healthcare or finance, as their results would have been validated by the client, their media agencies, and the social media platforms themselves.