The Digital Marketing Decade: A Look Back and Look Ahead

Marketing has changed more in the last 10 years than it has in the last three decades combined, and this extreme pace doesn’t show any indication of slowing down. The emergence of digital marketing and all that it now entails―online and mobile advertising, social media, content delivery, etc.―has much to do with the accelerated pace along with the ultra-competitive international business landscape in which we now operate.

As we reflect over the past 10 years, we’ve seen a seismic shift in where marketers are putting their dollars. The CMO Survey of top marketing trends for the past decade shows that since 2011, spending on digital marketing has been higher than spending on traditional advertising methods. The report goes on to say that over the past eight years, companies have spent about 10 percent more each year on digital advertising than traditional advertising. Concurrently, we also saw our own client base increase―and we expect that trend to continue as brands look to find relevant ways to engage with a growing digital audience that relies on multiple devices to consume media, content and advertising―anywhere, and everywhere.

Back at the start of 2019, we made several predictions here on our “Elemental Knowledge” blog:

  • Digital marketers will pay closer attention to data at their fingertips;
  • There will be more interest in tapping the full potential of IP data;
  • Mobile carrier data will grow in importance; and
  • Converting latitude/longitude into real information would find its place.

Many of those predictions came to fruition and continue to show relevance going into 2020. But, what else is in store for the new year?

Here’s what we anticipate for 2020:

A Laser Focus on Hyper-Relevant Local Ads and Personalization: According to Gartner, at least 90 percent of online advertisers will start using some type of marketing personalization by 2020, followed by a significant increase in fully personalized websites in 2021. To be successful here, marketers need accurate and reliable hyper-local geolocation data in order to fulfill customer expectations.

Insights-Driven Marketing Will Become the “Thing”
2020 will see a continued increase in using analytics and insights to optimize digital marketing results and drive business performance. According to an Altimeter/Prophet State of Digital Marketing Report, 41 percent of digital marketers said data analysis was the most desired skillset for new hires, followed closely by tech expertise. IP Intelligence technology is the perfect complement to any analytics package, adding depth that allows marketers to further segment and gain deeper insight into customer behavior—the true benchmark for critical assessment of the digital channel.

Getting and Being There for Those Micro-Moments
Micro-moments occur when people reflexively turn to a device—most notably a smartphone—to act on a need to learn something, do something or buy something. For example, what movie to see, what store to visit or where to go. This tactic looks to take advantage of showing a relevant ad at the right place at the right time to the right audience. To take advantage of this trend in 2020, marketers will need to make sure they are where consumers are searching for information at the moment a decision or purchase is being made. Utilizing IP-to-POI datasets can help marketers identify consumers in the immediate vicinity of nearby points of interest such as retail stores, restaurants, gas stations, hospitals, churches, etc. Understanding customers’ context around their current location helps in delivering more relevant, timely messages as a result.

Finding Ways to Break through the Mobile Noise with Hyper-Location Intelligence
A key element for marketers is the rollout of 5G, as it will improve the precision of mobile location significantly. Improving the use of location intelligence in 2020 will be the Holy Grail for marketers looking to cater to today’s increasingly mobile-first consumers. The ability to harvest insights from geospatial data relationships will be the key to catering directly to these key audiences.

Mobile Ad Fraud Will Continue to be a Very Prickly Thorn

Unfortunately, ad fraud will continue to be a top issue in 2020 and is projected to only get worse. Global ad fraud is predicted to cost an unprecedented $30 billion, including indirect economic and social costs, according to the report “The Economic Cost of Bad Actors on the Internet, Ad Fraud 2019.” The direct cost to advertisers is expected to hit $26 billion in 2020, $29 billion in 2021, and $32 billion in 2022, with the burden landing disproportionately on the shoulders of smaller companies that don’t have the budgets of established brands to avoid ad fraud. However, marketers representing companies of all sizes are incorporating proxy data to help identify and bypass online users who may be masking their locations and digital personas which, in turn, means improvement in targeted campaign performance with fewer wasted impressions.

Just as we experienced so much change in the last decade, we expect the future marketing landscape will pose plenty of new circumstances, challenges and opportunities of its own. While it’s hard to predict exactly where advertising and marketing will take us throughout this next decade, we feel strongly that these trends will be a part of both the short- and long-term future.

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