December, 2020 Update – there was a whole lot that we didn’t see coming in 2020 a year ago. It’s been a humbling time for prognosticators, but it’s always helpful to be reminded that while there are predictable trends in our industry we always need to be prepared to help our clients with new and surprising challenges! One thing we got right is the mainstreaming of data privacy concerns, mostly due to raised awareness over the role social media is playing in our lives. 

It’s a challenge for every marketer to keep up with our rapidly evolving industry. To do our best work, we also try to anticipate and prepare for changes that will affect us in the months and years ahead. We took a look into our crystal ball and came up with a few of our predictions for the digital marketing industry in 2020 that we believe will have an impact.

Automation and machine learning will be responsible for a growing share of the ad management process for all marketers.

As sophisticated systems become more widespread and successful at optimizing media for results, they will find their way into greater influence over the entire process including enhanced automated bid strategy, creative personalization and audience optimization.

Lead generation will continue to spread into traditional branding and awareness tactics.

Marketers continue to try to reduce friction in their lead generation strategies, and media channels will continue to cater to their needs with ads that offer in-unit conversion opportunities. Rather than simply making the bet that search and other traditional lead gen drivers will close the loop with interested customers, marketers are looking to platforms like Facebook, YouTube and display to do the heavy lifting on lead gen via features that don’t require users to leave the platform.

There will be an emphasis on better creative options on dominant platforms like Facebook and Google.

Ad units will continue to evolve that will allow brands to deliver better creative messaging. Audience access alone is not sufficient, marketers know that they need to leverage every opportunity available to effectively tell their story. This includes the use of video

Transparency and data privacy concerns go mainstream.

Growing knowledge about data privacy issues will drive long-simmering concerns into the public sphere as well as the 2020 election conversation. Technology companies will need to be prepared to speak to their use and protection of personal information. Consumers will require a much deeper understanding of any value they are getting in this exchange.

Say Goodbye to the 2010s

If 2019 is any indication, the pace of change will continue into 2020 with no end in sight. Let’s take a quick look back at 2019 and beyond to give us a sense of perspective as we head into the new year:

Here is Google’s Year in Search 2019, US version. Checking out the top searches in categories like News, People and Entertainment is a surprisingly great way to remember what happened in 2019. Don’t skip the 2 minute video.

Wordstream provides us with a handy list of the 11 biggest Google Updates of 2019. Let’s also not forget big organic updates like BERT.

Reminisce about all those tech toys you splurged on over the last 10 years: Best gadgets of the 2010s.

Since it’s nice to end the year on a humorous note, take a look at some of Tom Fishburne’s best cartoons about our tendency to make dire predictions about our industry (and get them wrong).