Predictions: 9 digital marketing trends for 2019

What does 2019 hold for digital marketers, and marketing generally? We ask a raft of industry experts from the marketing technology and industry community to give us their thoughts on 2019 and beyond, and what marketers will need to know moving forward.

4. Inclusive creative and design

Rising concerns around inequality, unconscious bias, and stereotyping in society, and the perpetuation of all three via marketing and creative, has never been more apparent. According to J. Walter Thompson Intelligence, inclusive design is the resulting trend, and an essential step to ensuring creative is designed without insidious bias against groups of consumers.

J Walter Thompson (JWT) Australia chief strategy officer, Angela Morris, said after a rollercoaster year of political, environmental and economic change, consumers are reeling and marketers need to bring a human lens to their activities as a result.

“Increasingly, we are seeing a growing acknowledgement that disruptive change via tech and data isn’t always without collateral damage to humanity. From the onslaught of social media judgement to privacy fears, consumers are looking for businesses and brands to take responsibility to ensure that progress puts human implications front and centre,” she said.

Kantar global content Lead, Amy Fridlund, also noted societies around the world are renegotiating gender, both in terms of what it means and what is acceptable.

“In 2019, marketers will start getting to grips with societal issues, and use their power and leverage to promote progressive gender portrayals in advertising. Women cannot relate to many of the ads they see, and progressive male role models are rare," she said. "For example, while 75 per cent of ads tested by Kantar in 2018 featured women, just 6 per cent portray women in authoritative roles.

"Learning how to deal with unconscious bias and win with women and will be increasingly critical to business growth."

5. The rise of voice

Recent reports show the local adoption of voice activated devices and smart speakers, like Google Home and Amazon Alexa, is outstripping the US and the UK. In fact, four million local consumers are predicted to use their smart speakers for shopping in 2019, according to Versa’s The Voice Report 2019.

Brands not incorporating voice into their digital strategies will find themselves behind the pack in 2019.

“In light of launches such as Google Home and the Amazon Echo, which continue to grow over the festive season I’m sure, it’s only a matter of time before voice will disrupt the digital marketing ecosystem as we know it," Quantcast head of marketing for Asia-Pacific, Rachael Townsley, said.

"With voice search on the up, I expect 2019 will see brands build this in to their media mix and address voice as part of their user experience. And for those in ecommerce, especially with Amazon entering the market, I expect voice ordering will push brands to focus on owning the customer in their homes.".

More than just another channel of engagement, Kantar executive director, Alistair Leathwood, said embracing voice requires a whole new way of thinking about brand.

"This is about being focused on natural language conversations and a recognition that sound and pronunciation are as important as logos, branding and other visuals,” he said.

6. Marketing teams shift from specialism to consumerism

From content to creative, to customer experience, care, service and data analysis, the role of the CMO has undergone significant change in the last five years.

“The modern CMO understands the fundamental goal of marketing is to establish and grow authentic connections with your respective audiences," Infogroup CMO, Tony Marlow, said. "Data is a critical first step to understanding your audience and this has already given rise to the data-literate marketer.

“Moving forward, we will see the top CMOs move beyond mere ‘data literacy’ and we will start to see a focus on becoming masterful at the science of turning data into intelligence upon which you can act for the benefit of your customer.”

But this shift towards single customer view and end-to-end engagement also impacting the way marketing functions are being set-up and operate. Employment Hero CMO, Cat Prestipino, expected a breakdown in what’s considered digital marketing as a result.

“When digital marketing started over a decade ago, it was the only channel where you could test and track the impact of your campaigns. Fast-forward to now with an increased focus on attribution, most marketing channels allow for some form of testing and measurement," she comments.

“As marketers are forced to focus on the individual customer journey, rather than the channel, silos within the marketing channel will disappear entirely and teams will be set up more along the lines of customer acquisition or customer retention consisting of different skill sets rather than channel ownership."

GroupM head of digital investment and partnerships, Venessa Hunt, said this is also triggering a shift of the CMO’s mindset to longer-term marketing goals with a focus on brand building.

“Digital is really going to re-earn its stripes as a method of building brands, not just performance,” Hunt said. “We’ll also see marketers focus on really understanding what ‘innovation’ means to their brand, being aware if they are not innovating enough or if they are innovating for innovation’s sake.”

As digital has become the dominant advertising vehicle, Townsley noted the focus on short-term tactics to drive results. Somewhere along the way, long-term brand-building took a back seat.

“It’s more important than ever for brands to shift their focus to long-term goals to survive. The role of brand affinity, loyalty and trust have a huge role to play in their growth across 2019," she said. "The digital environment offers up exciting opportunities for brands to connect with their customers in a meaningful way, at the moments that matter, and with efficiency at scale.”

7. Creative content is king

The consumer is demanding more bespoke content, when they want it, and on the channel of their choice. Gone are the days when the same content could be served across multiple channels without thought.

When it comes to the types of creative in-demand in 2019, video is a must-have.

“We live in a world of user generated content, there’s more video content that ever before,” Townsley said.

“Consumer attention has to be fought for and brands that use video that encourages engagement and excites their audience will win. With this in mind I expect we’ll see higher emergence of short-form video. Video is a powerful medium that works. Hubspot reported adding video to an email can boost click-throughs by 200-300 per cent and increase conversion rates by 80 per cent.

"I believe this will continue to grow and be a powerful medium for advertisers over the next year if done right."

As well as online streaming, JWT expected podcasts and audiobooks to continue to grow, as people seek to inform and entertain and educate themselves in other ways than simply looking at their screens.

As brands continue to increase their focus on digital, Bonzai CEO and co-founder, Rahul Pandey, also said the importance of creatives in the digital ecosystem will rise.

“In the coming year, we’re going to see an increasing shift from ‘adapting for digital’ from traditional creatives, to ‘creating for digital’ as a digital-first strategy. What’s particularly exciting about this is that it will put the spotlight on specialists who focus on redefining the ‘digital creative experience’ to unlock fresh opportunities for brands.”

Up next: Our final 2 digital marketing predictions for 2019

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