How would you remember 2018 as it relates to Digital Marketing? Was it the year of Amazon? The turmoil of big tech, especially as it relates to Facebook? Was it Twitter’s increase in usage and are you shocked Snapchat is still holding strong (even though valuation is half it was Jan 2018)? I sat in my office at Web Talent Marketing in late 2017 and wrote predictions for the upcoming year. I am going to grade myself on those in the first part of this post and then share some 2019 predictions. I realize that it is late January when I am releasing them, but none of these have even remotely come true.
How did I do with my 2018 Digital Marketing Predictions
Here is a list of my predictions, with how I did for 2018.
Prediction: Amazon will become 3rd largest digital advertising platform, behind Google and Facebook
How did I do?: I absolutely nailed this one. I had this one nailed by June and I also know that hindsight is 20/20, so people will say… of course we saw this coming. But did they? Emarketer had them 5th, others had them lower than that.
- How did I see this? One word… eCommerce. As one of the first rules of advertising says, “be where your customers are,” brands want to be closer to where their consumers are purchasing. That is Amazon. They already saturate search and brands are taking advantage of the effort Amazon spends to get customers to check out faster. Ads were cheap, so why not.
Prediction: Amazon will continue to build their private label brands, to the tune of 25% more brands
How did I do?: At the time I wrote this, Amazon had 41 private label brands. Today, that list is 70 (brands in which Amazon OWNS). I’d say I absolutely destroyed this prediction.
- How did I see this? For years, it was known that Amazon wanted to win the basket, with margin being a non-factor. They wanted to change consumer behavior and they have. Now that they are shifting consumer behavior, they are looking to devalue the perception of a brand. Consumers are increasingly seeking value from their purchases and Amazon is picking up on this. 94% of batteries purchased on Amazon are AmazonBasics branded. Amazon has the beauty of allowing other brands to spend a ton of money to promote and build their brand, they see how the brand sells and what customers want, then develop their own and displace consumer behavior.
Prediction: Voice search will account for over 40% of total search traffic on mobile.
How did I do?: According to Branded3’s report and another one by BrightLocal, I nailed this one, barely. Adoption of smart speakers has slowed a bit, but the killer app is voice search on devices, at least currently.
- How did I see this? This one isn’t hard… voice search is increasing simply because of the amount of devices we have to utilize voice search, as well as the accuracy of those devices.
Prediction: Mobile will account for over 45% of e-commerce transactions
How did I do?: Depending on how you round, I hit this one also… but it is VERY VERY close.
- How did I see this? Mobile only accounted for 21% in 2016 and 34% in 2017, so it only seemed logical there is no regression in immediate site, however, slow mobile data speed continues to be the barrier to massive growth. Retailers are spending more time optimizing for mobile, as well as ecommerce cart systems being optimized out of the box for mobile. This is reducing the barrier, but given the amount of time we spend on mobile, even 45% feels VERY low.
Prediction: Snap, Inc. rolls out a self-service ads platform, bought non-programmatically
How did I do?: Another one… nailed it. This one didn’t take long either to happen, however, it still didn’t help their valuation (which is what I also predicted). What I predicted as the shortfall to this, continues to be the downfall… a lack of transparent reporting and targeting makes Facebook/Instagram a better value.
- How did I see this? Facebook woos the big brands, but it makes their money from small businesses; the same way that Google does. With an ad unit starting at $250k, this left it exclusively for the big brand. A sponsored pin geo-targeted was one thing, but even that didn’t activate much growth. I knew they needed something to activate the smaller businesses and a self-service ad platform would be a failed attempt. Spoiler: it was.
Prediction: Considerably more retail store closures
How did I do?: Toys R’ Us, Sears, The Bon-Ton, Wal-Green/Rite Aid… should I go on? This was another very bloody year for retail.
- How did I see this? The death of retail has been overblown, but I did expect a correction in retail. We were over-saturated for years, so this is just a correction. eCommerce is not the single-handed death blow to retail. Far from it, but a contraction needed to happen (kind of like MarTech needs now).
Prediction: Brands and manufacturers will increasingly start eCommerce and then move to Retail
How did I do?: This is another one I got, however, I admittedly expected a bit more than what happened. However, what I didn’t expect were the categories for which ecomm to retail happened. Casper is opening 200 stores, Adore Me is opening stores, AllBirds is opening stores. There will be more.
- How did I see this? With retail closures, comes cheaper real estate and with >90% of purchases still happening in a retail environment, there is demand for an in-store purchase.
Prediction: Google announces plan for advertisers to buy TV ads through YouTube TV platform
How did I do?: Another one… nailed it. A second prediction inside of this one was that it would be purchased through Adwords (I had a few articles published on this with AMA and others).
- How did I see this? Google has made themselves rich at owning the pipes and then monetizing those pipes. The minute YouTubeTV came out, that seemed like the obvious choice. TV earns the largest share of advertiser’s dollar, so why wouldn’t big G want a piece of that? Then make it easy for advertisers by allowing them to buy it from DoubleClick and Ads (formerly Adwords) and you have a recipe for fast adoption. This also helps them drive continued dollars to the OG YouTube.
Prediction: Local inventory ads pave the way for Retail and eCommerce purchases from local businesses
How did I do?: Hmm… I missed this one, at least I think I did.
- What went wrong? I honestly thought Google would create a product that made it easier for local businesses to have their inventory piped into Merchant Center and easier to get on Ads. They did not. Perhaps it was too early? Nonetheless, I missed it.
8 out of 9…. Not bad. 89% accurate and might I say, there were no gimmies here (at least not when I wrote them in December 2017.
I am going to do something a bit different this year. Instead of going into a rant after my predictions, I will just leave it like this… Since this post is already long enough.
- Amazon’s share of Digital Advertising spend slows, but they remain #3. Growth slows due to increase competition, increased costs for advertisers, and murky data transparency. Amazon realizes the slower growth, focuses on branded campaigns, brings more automation and expands inventory to adjacent properties and slowly moves Google Display Network out. (IMDB, etc.)
- Amazon will continue to advance their private label brand and will hit over 100 in 2019, with grocery and CPG being the biggest growth areas.
- Amazon will announce video ads on prime; for select advertiser categories
- 5G will hasten speed of mobile ecommerce transactions, as a percentage of share. Mobile hits over 50% of ecommerce transactions, driven by mobile web (not apps, outside of Amazon) and powered by 5G. Black Friday will be the apex.
- Behind a massive advertising push, Google Express finally starts to gain share (6 years later), thanks to voice search (Google Home). This helps Google start to earn increased share for product searches (they will retake the 50% margin vs. Amazon, who has it today).
- Google will activate a completely automated version of Ads targeting Small Businesses.
- Google launches shoppable image ads, similar to Pinterest and Instagram/Facebook right from the search results.
- Amazon officially announces ads for Echo voice responses but requires advertiser have “Amazon Choice” badge.
- OTT Video Ad Inventory becomes the hottest property in Digital Advertising and to be bought outside of premium inventory and programmatic.
- In-Housing of agency tactics will continue to increase