2018 was a sprint to the finish year for Digital India. With a 16% y-o-y growth in smart phone usage, India surpassed the US to become the fastest growing mobile market this year. Reliance JIO enabled the rapid rise in 4G, resulting in accelerated content consumption across the country. As internet penetration increases, so will the digital marketing landscape. We list down 19 of our digital marketing trends and predictions to watch out for in 2019.
1. Search to become Faster, Smarter, Crisper: Google will rise to serve answers than results. All the Why’s, How’s and Where’s will be answered within Google search, without a click out. Brands and Content websites will need to adapt to give the answers directly to stay relevant on SEO. Google’s Search AI will grow to predict subsequent queries & answers with more accuracy.
2. Video killed the ‘Text’ Star: Video will continue to dominate social channels, Live Video – Facebook, Instagram and YouTube Live in particular. A larger segment of the new internet users is more comfortable with consuming content on Video than on text. Brands recognising this increases share of Digital Marketing spends to move to Video.
3. Users Adopting ‘Visual Search’: A new wave of Visual Search can improve search experiences for users, as easy as taking a picture. Pinterest has tested this with their Lens which allows users to take a picture of an article and find out where to purchase it.
4. Amazon as a Marketing Channel: This is to grow significantly owing to its rich customer data & being the starting point for product searches. Amazon’s growing position as a product discovery platform would make Google put large efforts in servicing & increasing the share of its product searches.
5. Growth of digital adoption in T4 & beyond: This will push Video, Voice & Vernacular to growresulting in growth of regional OTT Video Content & advertising and Voice search. In Rural & Semi-Urban markets, Digital Product launches & Marketing campaigns to move increasingly from Mobile-first to Mobile-Only.
6. We will see data in action: Mid-sized companies would adopt Customer Data Management Platforms and make better use of it to get a richer profile of the customer journey.
7. Data gets secure: Customers & companies will be conscious and careful about the data they share and own. One of the biggest digital spenders, Politics, and the biggest digital platforms, Facebook, Whatsapp, Google, will do a tight-rope walk with respect to data sharing, ethics, & respect for the voter.
8. Apps will lose their promise: App-Bloat, Frequent Updates, Uninstall rates, & Increasing App install fraud on phones, might force more consumers & companies to choose PWA options. Services/Products that pass the ‘Toothbrush Test’ (“Must be used at least twice a day”) – will be preferred as apps while the rest are on shaky ground
9. Catch on the go: As audience get busier, content would be consumed on the move. Omnichannel approach across video sites, social media, OTT players and Digital OOH placements in transit – OLA Play etc will increase. This also spells rapid growth in Digital OOH that are Hyperlocally relevant – eg. at Malls, Restaurants, Bus stands, Railway Stations.
10. AI in Social Media: Many features on social channels already have AI working in the background. From image recognition to auto recommendation of products, AI will grow to power social media
11. Creative Native Ads or Contextual placements would make the cut:
Brands would seek to make content more customized to suit the Gen-Z user, resulting in Innovative & Interactive Ad formats – which stand out but don’t interrupt the user’s flow.
12. Distribution- key in Content Marketing: Content will play a huge role in brand and product promotions as proliferation of ads on social channels is saturated and content can be used for product discoverability in a subtle manner.
13. Stories Will Grow Engagement: Stories, especially on Instagram, will continue to evolve – more features as more brands and individuals take to sharing micro-content via Stories
14. Whatsapp Ads: With the anti-advertising founders making an exit, Whatsapp is now prime real-estate for Facebook ads expansion. Whatsapp Status will be the first testing ground and Meta-data sharing between Whatsapp & Facebook will increase.
15. Brands need to be on Brand, so to say: Brands will increasingly try to insert themselves into the ongoing conversation on Social Media (Memes, Topical, Chatter). The ones that do this in a unique manner, will succeed in translating that to Digital PR and sustained Brand presence.
16. AR & VR will lead creative marketing: Amazon’s Prime Day Sale this year was a classic example of Virtual Reality leading marketing. Brands will bet big on AR and VR.
17. Year of ‘Programmatic Guaranteed’: Apprehensions over brand safety & brand suitability have been addressed to a large extent, and it’s the right moment for brands to experiment with a larger scale on Programmatic in India. Digitally enabled TV Screens, possibly Digital OOH, Audio etc – will all be accessible on one Platform.
18. Influencers Get Niche: Influencer marketing took off in a big way last year and will see the rise of influencer management platforms and tools enabling micro-influencers – category specific influencers who are able to drive consideration for niche products and in-house influencers to increase with brands nurturing social-media-savvy employees to take up influencer responsibilities
19. ROI Focus on the High: Unit-economics will continue to be a buzzword for most digital companies, focusing on cost-efficiencies. Measurement and attribution would continue to be a challenge with an increase in cross-channel advertising.
(The article has been co-authored by Abhishek Upadhya – VP Digital Strategy & Innovation & Ashwini K P – Head Social Media, Creative & Content @HiveMinds, a Unit of Madison World)