Connected TV, Video, and Local Focus Dominate 2020 Predictions

The end of the year is a natural time for us to look back at what we’ve learned in 2019 and look forward to what’s to come in 2020. As always, the digital marketing industry is full of twists and turns as new technology is introduced, old tools are discarded, and the rules of the marketing game are reimagined.

We asked a few experts from Location3 to share their insights from the past year and what they expect to see in 2020. Here are their responses to three separate questions.

What changes did you see in within your field of expertise in 2019?

Creative quality is now a major component within the bidding algorithms for Facebook and Google, so media-only agencies need to expand their expertise into creative and working alongside creative agencies to ensure campaign performance is not hindered by poor creative.

Roku was on the move with the recent purchase of dataxu, and telecom companies like T-Mobile continue acquisitions of data companies and media solutions to build out their paid media offerings.

Paid social platforms hit the ground running with rolling out ecommerce capabilities in 2019, including Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Brooke Hess, Director of Paid Media

Automation and consolidation were the themes for paid social marketing tech in 2019. Many ad platforms are moving toward a consolidated targeting approach that allows the algorithms to be more efficient and advertisers to focus on strategy, and specifically content.

Showing the right content at the right time based on where users are at in the funnel/user journey is more important than ever. Not just because the new targeting structure allows for more time to be spent in this area, but also due to users expecting a more personalized, 1-1 customer experience.

Providing a frictionless customer experience and ensuring content aligns to strategy and website experience was the key to beating competitors and winning the auction this year.

Chris Suglia, Paid Social Strategist

2019 brought a lot of new changes to the local listing space. For the first time since Possum in 2016, we have seen some drastic core algorithm updates. These updates are related to natural language processing and the ability for search engines to better understand our search queries.

This ultimately affects how local businesses show up in search. As Google better understands our queries, the search results become more relevant to our queries. Google is now doing a better job of understanding a broader set of search terms that apply to a single business.

Brett Dugan, Local Listing Strategist

FOMO is strong with some brands. With the influx of marketing options, there is a feeling that brands need to be everywhere and try everything.

But adequate budgets to back such efforts are lacking, so testing is a challenge. Brands that continue to focus on the people-first approach to their media planning, understanding that the quality of the targeting is more important than the channel itself, will outshine the rest.

More brands shifted their mindset to allow for AI technology as part of the overall management solution. AI can do so much for brands – customer segmentation, creative delivery, smart-bidding optimization, recommendations, and improve the customer experience – that we should anticipate seeing even more investment in the strategic use of AI.

Crystal Ware, VP of Partner Performance

When it comes the franchising industry, 2019 is the first year where it seems that the majority of brand marketers and corporate decision-makers are actively leveraging data as part of their everyday decision-making process, rather than simply talking about “the importance of data”.

As a result, the level of accountability for marketing performance – between both those folks at the brand as well as their chosen agencies, vendors and suppliers – has increased significantly year-over-year. I expect this to continue even more so in 2020, as the mentality of marketing campaign assessment shifts from “Did it work?” to “Show me the data, and show me how it worked.”

Josh Allen, Sr. Director of Marketing

In the analytics world, we are seeing more data participants in the space.  There are more companies in the API data pull space that offer quick and cost effective data solutions to marketers.

As a result, more small companies are able to create meaningful reporting and other business intelligence systems without the need to invest heavily in technology. Any company that takes advantage of this wave are going to be very happy in 2020, while companies with heavy technology investment might want to rethink about buy instead of build.

Leo Chen, Sr. Business Intelligence Analyst

Where should brands be focusing their marketing efforts in 2020?

Connected TV inventory and ad spend continues to grow at a rapid rate, and we’re also seeing our clients incorporate Connected TV and digital video into their video media mix in addition to linear TV.

The use of Facebook and Instagram Stories continues to increase, so clients should make sure to capitalize on these placements by developing creative in a vertical format to maximize the impact.

Brooke Hess, Director  of Paid Media

Providing a frictionless customer experience and developing high-performing content will be critical for success in 2020. The algorithms are only going to get more powerful while targeting is going to become more automated. The most impactful “levers” will be the landing page and creative/copy.

More clients are starting to focus on cross-channel metrics and multi-channel funnels that show how each tactic complements the whole system. Clients are interested in analyzing more granular data in regards to which specific actions cause users to purchase or complete a lead form. Using these actions to retarget users with hyper-relevant content or provide personalized landing page experiences will allow clients to stay ahead of competitors.

The other piece is strategy. Not necessarily more time spent on strategy, but more time spent on analyzing these granular metrics to understand the most efficient use of budget and what content is relevant to our audience.

Creating a strategy that moves users down the funnel without repetitive content/messaging will significantly help brand advocacy and will be key to breaking through the “noise.”

Chris Suglia, Paid Social Strategist

For the first time it feels like brands are diving 100% into digital. This is great as our clients are eager to learn more and do more with their digital efforts.

We are seeing long-term clients expanding into new services and championing these efforts throughout their organizations.  A big push is to OWN their digital assets. Brands are finally seeing how much misinformation lives out on the web and feel trapped when trying to clean up the mess.

Brett Dugan, Local Listing Strategist

Invest in good data collection and analysis. It’s easy to be data rich but information poor with the sheer volume of KPIs being collected across different channels.

Invest in an agency with a data marketing team that can help you glean what’s really driving revenue for your business.

Crystal Ware, VP of Partner Performance

It definitely seems that more clients (and prospective clients) are continuing to shift more advertising ad spends from traditional to digital channels, following the ongoing trend of the past few years.

Testing out channels like Connected TV and digital video should be part of every brand media plan in 2020, regardless of industry vertical.

Josh Allen, Sr. Director of Marketing

In 2020 companies should really focus on bridging the gap between the sales data(or CRM data) and marketing data. It is no longer enough to just know a lead is created from your website.

Most marketers in 2020 will have a better idea of the value of the lead.  Now it’s time to think about how to close that gap in terms of time and location,  so that better signals can be used to guide marketing strategy.

Leo Chen, Sr. Business Intelligence Analyst

What predictions do you have for 2020?

My prediction for 2020 is that Facebook and Google will continue to remove campaign customizations across budgeting, placements, and creative to better leverage their AI algorithms, similar to how Campaign Budget Optimization was announced as the only Facebook budgeting option in 2020.

I think TikTok is on its way to blowing up if their ad team can quickly catch up to the customer service and advanced targeting options that’s expected of larger social networks like Facebook and Pinterest, but brands must ensure their ads will fit the platform format to be successful.

Chatbots and Facebook Messenger are expected to grow, so marketers will need to learn how to incorporate these automations into their marketing mix.

Brooke Hess, Director  of Paid Media

Messaging/chat bots, personalized content experiences, and artificial intelligence will be the next big themes in marketing. A few companies have already seen great success with these, but advancements in automation and AI will make it easier for marketers to build these out without needing an engineer or developer.

Targeting will become a lower priority in 2020 since many platforms are moving to a consolidated approach that allows the algorithms to find your ideal audience based on customer and website data.

Virtual Assistants (chat bot ecommerce experience) have seen great returns, but those experiences still require significant investment. The top theme looks to be trending toward content, with more tools available that allow marketers to make high-performing  content without Adobe suite. CRO and tools like Crazy Frog will be critical to personalizing and identifying opportunities to optimize website experience.

Chris Suglia, Paid Social Strategist

I believe that in 2020 we will begin to get the first taste of what I am calling “Fluid Rank.” This is in regards to how local businesses are displayed in the SERPs.

Rank tracking will become a thing of the past as listings are fluidly swapped in and out of the top spots based on ever changing factors such as current traffic conditions, weather,  hours of operation, how busy the location is, etc.

This is going to be a massive shift as the focus will change from hyper focusing on listing rank and more on providing high quality content to reach the right person at the right time.

Brett Dugan, Local Listing Strategist

Cookies are a thing of the past. If you aren’t already shifting your strategies to focus on first-party data, you might be left behind in the coming years, but this does mean clients will need to invest in the time needed to clean up their own customer databases.

This also plays into changes we’ll see around privacy and customers demands to be better stewards of their information.

There’s going to be more and more data reported on voice search that agencies and brands can leverage. We should see improvements to content strategies and optimization efforts with this new source of rich data direct from customers.

Shopping ads will dominate spend. Now that users can purchase from Google, Facebook, Pinterest and a whole host of other channels, I think we will see investment in shopping ads significantly increase.

Can we all agree to just phase out influencer marketing? No? OK, maybe 2021.

Crystal Ware, VP of Partner Performance

When it comes to search marketing, I think one topic that is going to continue to gain steam among search professionals and brand marketers alike is the increasing cost to bid on, and protect, your branded search terms.

It’s been a hot topic in 2019, with a lot of frustration on the part of brands that have been forced to commit more ad spend to protecting their brand due to increased competition in Google. I’m interested to see if Google alters its stance on this subject in any way in 2020.

My prediction for 2020 is that marketing gets even more hyper-local, as a counterweight to the Amazon Prime, get-it-fast-and-now world we currently live in today. Big-box retailers and brands will start to reimagine their brick-and-mortar businesses and offerings to cater more to local communities and customers (which is a good thing, in my opinion) in an effort to continue to drive steady, in-store revenue growth. In 2020, dare I say, Everything Is Local.

Josh Allen, Sr. Director of Marketing

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