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Digital Marketing in 2019: What to Watch For

January 15, 2019

By Christine Zirnheld
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The Pros

responsive ads

Rampant Responsive

One of the biggest boons for advertisers in 2018 was the ability to optimize campaigns by moving away from standard banner sizes and utilizing responsive display ad formats. The proliferation of flexible ads such as Facebook Dynamic Creative, Facebook Creative Hub & Google RDAs, has made life so much easier than the days when we were required to adhere to all banner specs. The ability to automatically test images, logos, headlines, and descriptions allows marketers to optimize display campaigns without the hassle of uploading 10+ versions of the same ad in different sizes.

Video Everywhere

In 2018 we saw the launch of Outstream Ads that brought videos off of YouTube and onto the Google Display Network. On Facebook, creating video ads is now easier than ever thanks to high-level video creation tools in Facebook’s Creative Hub. We are anticipating even more resources that will bring Video ads to the masses in 2019, with dynamic and responsive ad formats and placements that are outside of network properties.

A Good Custom Intent

Marketers have learned not to hold their breath when Google launches a new ad feature. When targeting methods are first introduced they are often shaky at best, but unlike Anderson Cooper on NYE, these tools often get better with time and can become crucial parts of ad campaigns. Google’s Custom Intent launched at the end of 2017 and has shown glimpses of targeting promise, yet isn’t fully usable due to quality issues. We have hope that custom intent won’t come to a proverbial “umbrella to the face” ending, but will rather allow Google to compete with the social networks and give us marketers new found (usable) targeting abilities.

The Cons

Less Control

If we had a nickel for every time we heard the term “machine learning and artificial intelligence” in relation to ads in 2018, well, we’d have a big ol’ pile of nickels. These terms often get thrown around as justification for limiting advertiser’s direct control over their campaigns. Google Ads and Bing Ads no longer have true Exact Match for campaign keywords. Facebook offers fewer targeting opportunities. Gmail Sponsored promotions no longer match on URL. Reddit Ads now exclusively allows CPM bidding. Many advertisers are ignoring the bird box and forcing us all to look at their ML/AI light. In the coming year, advertisers must not only leverage the good parts of the coming ML/AI-pocalypse, but more importantly, bypass the flawed and poor machine performers.

Pushback & Hesitation on Facebook & Other Ads

Facebook has long been the leader in demographic and psychographic targeting capabilities. In 2018, this all came crashing down as Zuck took to Capitol Hill to explain the social network’s misuse of data from 3rd parties. Taylor Swift once said “This is why we can’t have nice things” and even though many of the detailed targeting options were removed, Facebook & Instagram are still phenominal platforms for advertisers. While your competitors may shift budget away from the ‘Book, with righteous indignation, this may be your time to strike at a lower cost. Remember, Ms. Swift also said “We play dumb but we know exactly what we’re doing” … so just keep on doing.

More Declines in Organic Traffic

In 2018 SEOs everywhere collectively freaked out when Google dropped organic listings completely for some very specific searches. As voice search continues to skyrocket and ads keep getting better, we expect organic search traffic as we know it will continue to decline as it did in 2018. However, This will be made up across other mediums, so be ready!

The IDKs

Voice Push for Ownership

It’s no secret that the best thing Siri has ever done is give us this. Yet the battle for voice search supremacy rages on between Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. So far, Amazon has dominated the smart speaker market. However, considering Android powers the majority of phones and they have an unparalleled search backbone in their corner, Google has more than a fighting chance of owning voice.

AMP Up / AMP Down

From our point of view, the negative AMP case studies outweighed the benefits of AMP in 2018. It seems that without additional ranking/CTR gains in the Search Engine Results pages, AMP hasn’t been valuable at all for many marketers. With what appears to be a limited (but fast) experience, we’ll need to see more benefits other than speed to make this worthwhile in 2019. If the reward outweighs the performance declines, then look for ramped up use, and if not, our outlook is dampened.

Wish List

To hear our full discussion on these, please listen to this week’s Deep Dive episode of Marketing O’Clock for all of our thoughts (and banter).


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Christine Zirnheld

Christine Zirnheld

Christine is a digital marker at Cypress North specializing in content marketing and paid advertising. “Shep”, as she is affectionately known to our team, is co-host of Cypress North's digital marketing news podcast, marketing O'Clock and was named a 2020 Rising Star in PPC by PPC Hero. Christine is Google Analytics individually certified, a Microsoft Advertising Accredited Professional, and certified in Google Ads search, shopping, and display. She is also a weekly Search Engine Journal contributor, writing Marketing O’Clock recap posts and breaking PPC news stories. When Shep’s not at her desk or behind the mic, you can find her at home watching Murder, She Wrote.

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