4 Macro Trends Changing the Digital Marketing Landscape

Digital marketing price increase

#1 - Increasing Prices Across Paid Channels

The increasing price of paid channels is being driven by several factors:
  • Advertising platforms are getting easier and easier to use, encouraging the long tail of small businesses to DIY their own advertising.
  • The addition of machine learning optimisation built-in to these platforms, also means that DIYers can compete with even the best third party management platforms, which once used to give agencies the edge.
  • Increased competition is also driving up prices on inventory, even on seemingly infinite inventory. We don’t just have early adopters using digital marketing anymore. Those that were not using it are quickly getting left behind, and this pressure has meant that the Early and Late Majority adopters have also joined the race.
  • The major holders of digital marketing inventory (Google and Facebook) are also publicly listed companies, and the pressure of year on year performance is also a likely factor in the increasing price of ad inventory.

All of these external pressures on prices mean that businesses need to look for new ways to grow. Betting all on paid growth is a risky strategy. Marketers should plan for ever-increasing paid channel costs.

#2 - Increasing Platform Uncertainty

The way people are consuming content is changing.

Signs point to the beginning of a possible platform shift. Andrew Chen of the Venture Capital Firm A16Z has spoken about the change from network-based to content-based business models – which is to say that quality content is becoming more important than ‘connectedness’.

This is evident in the endurance of content-based social networks such as Pinterest, and a rise in subscription-based content delivery, especially in Podcasts and Newsletters from thought leaders.

All of this leaves platforms which do not produce their own content (like newspapers or Facebook) a little vulnerable.

Games are also considered to be a potential candidate for the next social network like channels. Fortnite already has 250 million players, almost 10% of Facebook’s total audience. The sophistication of the game’s integration with communication hardware mean that it has turned into a place for players to spend a significant amount of time ‘hanging out’ with their friends.

So where does this leave marketers? With a lot of potential opportunity in a changing landscape.

Don’t worry about it too much in the short term (<2 years), but for the medium to long term (5-10 years), markers should develop growth strategies that are not tied to just one or two channels. Instead, consider the possibility of having to shift the strategy between channels as their influence changes.

Mind the Gap
Private sign

#3 - The Rise of Privacy & Data

People are becoming more aware remarketing tactics

Major privacy scandals such as Cambridge Analytica and Facebook have brought privacy to the forefront in recent years and raised the awareness of online advertising and remarketing strategies that were once considered coincidence by most of the general public.

The knock-on effect of this has been a tightening of privacy policy, like GDPR, and a call from consumers for more privacy protection, transparency around data capture and more control over their data and privacy.

This has had an impact on the effectiveness of remarketing, especially on cookie-based platforms, like Google Ads.

Companies relying on remarketing to drive down their Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) might have already seen some impact of this, and may want to consider alternatives, like investing in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

Organic is often considered the highest performing digital channel and fundamental to building out your digital presence.

So where does this leave marketers? With a lot of potential opportunity in a changing landscape.

Don’t worry about it too much in the short term (<2 years), but for the medium to long term (5-10 years), markers should develop growth strategies that are not tied to just one or two channels. Instead, consider the possibility of having to shift the strategy between channels as their influence changes.

#4 - A Device Shift

Mobile-first can no longer be ignored.

It truly is a mobile-first world now and there are no longer any excuses to overlook this traffic.

We’ve been blaming low mobile conversion rates on the idea that discovery behavior happens on mobile and intent is carried out on desktop. It was a convenient excuse to ignore the issue up until now.

Now, mobile is too high a proportion of traffic for anyone to ignore and there are a growing number of people that don’t even own computers. This is evident in two main demographics:

  1. Stay at home mothers, and
  2. Developing nations where mobile adoption has leapfrogged traditional telecommunications infrastructure.

Mobile needs to be competitive for your business to be competitive.

Quite often mobile converts at 50% the conversion rate of desktop. And with mobile traffic now at more than 50% of all web traffic, that’s hypothetically 25% of your revenue that you are loosing.

How much is 25% of your revenue? Put a $$ figure on it. That’s at least how much it’s worth spending to fix this potential issue!

What does this mean in practical terms? When you’re getting a new website designed, ask for the first draft to be in mobile format only. Then when you view the website for the first time, test it on mobile. Test your user journeys on different mobile devices.

It’s too easy to stick to doing ‘work’ on your work computer, but it takes effort to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and do your testing on mobile.

(A shout out to Jim Martin for his input on Mobile CRO).

Woman with mobile

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