5 Digital Marketing Trends to Watch in 2018

Interactive content, voice search and virtual reality made waves in the marketing industry this year. But with 2018 quickly approaching, it's time to move on to the next big thing. Here are a few marketing trends we think you should be on the lookout for.

Ad hosts start blocking ad blockers

The advertising industry is facing ever-increasing rates of ad-block software usage. Analysts say that over 100 million consumers in the U.S. will be ad-block users in 2020, up from 44 million in 2016. According to Optimal.com estimates, this will eat up more than $12 billion in display ad revenue in 2020.

Lucky for advertisers, Facebook has effectively found ways to disable ad-blocking technology on their site. Google, however, is taking a different route. They’re testing a Chrome tool that mutes autoplay videos. While this might be good news for consumers, websites and advertisers benefit from the attention-grabbing feature of audio.

Amazon expands influence with influencers

Influencer marketing has become a formidable digital strategy in the last few years:

  • 84% of marketers planned on executing at least one influencer marketing campaign during 2017 (Source)
  • On average, businesses generate $6.50 for every $1 invested in influencer marketing (Source)
  • 74% of people turn to social networks for guidance on purchase decisions (Source)

Amazon's Influencer Program recently added a self-service tool for social media influencers. The program allows influencers to create a page on Amazon with a dedicated vanity URL to showcase the products they recommend to their followers. This makes it easier for followers to shop recommendations on Amazon and influencers can earn money while doing it.

Growth and adoption of behavioral marketing strategy

Today’s marketing platforms can collect and store information such as browsing patterns, search history, site usage and content preferences to create a customer profile and behavior marketing strategies. But what’s the next step?

Adobe predicts that machines will start making the strategic marketing decisions. Software will analyze user data to create segments, start and stop campaigns across various channels, and even create custom copy by perceived personality.

  • Behavioral targeting allows marketers to engage directly to a very specific demographic or type of consumer.
  • Customers are more loyal when marketers target them with specific action linked to their behaviors.
  • No data is more insightful than what buyers tell you via the things they do.

Kids flee TV for YouTube’s pastures

Nielsen C-3 ratings for 2- to 11-year-olds have fallen 50% over the last six years. TV’s youngest viewers make up the largest decline in the “ditch cable” trend. How long will cable TV providers continue to pay carriage fees for kids’ networks with such a small target customer base?

But the kids don’t seem to mind. If you’re an advertiser looking to tap into this market then you are better off doing so via streaming content. YouTube Kids is free to consumers, ad-supported and reaches around 70% of the 6 to 12-year-old audience. Parents can set parental controls, time limits and content preferences. These features make switching hard to resist.

Netflix is only technically ad-free

Netflix has upheld it’s ad-free streaming plan while YouTube, Amazon Video and Hulu have integrated commercial advertisements. This leaves revenue on the table for Netflix, but the tides are turning.

Netflix was under scrutiny last year for some flagrant product placement in their original series “The Ranch,” causing viewers and critics to wonder if this would become the new normal. Fast forward to 2017, Accenture is working on product placement technology that they claim will be a billion-dollar revenue generator in the next five years. They tout it as the smart solution to the negative impact of ad blocking. But “smart” doesn’t fully capture the AI component. This will also be used to rapidly scale, place and personalize the products and logos that might appear in content.

If you’ve been browsing online for a new HP tablet and then watch an episode of Black Mirror or Bojack Horseman on Netflix, that same tablet you clicked on earlier could appear in the form of a billboard in the background of a scene, on a character's table or a prop in hand. None of which was originally added into the scene.