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2018: A Year in Review

As we wrap up 2018, it’s nice to look back and see what highlights stood out in the past 12 months for our industry. What notable developments has the marketing and design field seen and how will that influence the year to come?

208 year in review

The Shift of Google

Google rebranded its ad lineup this summer, starting with Google AdWords. In case you missed it, the famed advertising service is now Google Ads. While it came as a surprise to many, Google retired AdWords and DoubleClick, replacing them with shiny new versions. Why? As advertising has changed and needs have evolved, Google’s advertising platforms needed to be streamlined. Services didn’t disappear; products just became simplified. Whether it’s search, display, YouTube videos, or Google Maps location listings you can buy and manage all ads from the same platform now. The updates were fairly limited to a rename, a more user-friendly interface, and better integration of their suite of tools. This makes for an easier marketing experience, sort of. Of course there have been challenges and pitfalls to overcome, in getting used to a new consolidated service. And it turned out that it wasn’t just a name change: Smart Campaigns was launched – a default mode for small business advertisers. One can prioritize actions, such as phone calls or store visits, and Google Ads uses machine learning to optimize the ads (images, text, and targeting) to drive more conversions.

The second brand change is Google Marketing Platform. Basically, the ad and analytics technologies have been brought under one roof and DoubleClick and Google Analytics 360 have been combined. Under that umbrella, Google also launched a new product called Display & Video 360. The third brand is Google Ad Manager. This platform combines monetization tools such as DoubleClick Ad Exchange and DoubleClick for Publishers.

As Google says, the look and feel of its tools has changed but not the core functionality.

Visual Search

In the past two year, we’ve started to see how visual search ups the user experience. Users can upload an image to conduct a search and get specific results to their queries. And it has really taken off, with big companies like Pinterest, Google, Amazon, and Bing launching visual search tools.

Do it on Google:

Google Lens is Google’s visual search engine which can recognize objects, landmarks, and other items through a camera app, that’s only available on Pixel phones. Take a photo of a business card and directly save the phone number or address as a contact. Take a photo of a building and get more details on it.

Try Pinterest’s Lens:

This new visual search tool (an app available on iOS and Android) allows users to take a photo of an item and search, in order to find out where to buy it online, find similar products, or view boards on Pinterest of related items.

Yes, visual search is still a small fraction of the total search volume but it is evolving rapidly. Keep visual search in mind in the new year as it’s a good method of answering questions that are hard to verbalize and there might be great marketing possibilities for your brand.

Micro-moments

Google has termed this new consumer behavior as one in which a person turns to their device to act on a specific need: to know, go, do, or buy. In such moments, consumers want your brand’s marketing message delivered in a clear and concise way. You want to peak the interest of consumers and, because consumers’ attention spans are shrinking, do so in a span of seconds. With the shift to mobile, consumers are expecting an experience that is immediate, relevant, and easy. To succeed, marketers need to meet consumers in their micro-moments.

Continued importance of social Stories

Social media “Stories” have grown in popularity and most marketers likely already consider it a part of their digital marketing strategies. What started out on Snapchat quickly became implemented on Instagram, then Facebook, now YouTube. Stories disappear after a period of time (24 hours) and are a great way for marketers to lean on that fear of missing out that consumers have. Social marketers use the Stories format to share behind-the-scenes moments, ask for reviews, and more.

Influencer marketing in the spotlight

2018 saw influencer marketing under a lot of scrutiny. While most marketers plan to increase spend on such marketing, there are a lot of concerns about the practice. Fraud, fake followers, and transparency issues were big in 2018 and many argue for tighter regulations on influencers. So, a word to the wise – it might become best practice to refuse to work with influencers who buy followers. That being said, you should definitely think about what benefits an influencer could bring to the table and decide if it’s the a marketing tactic that’s right for your business. You can read a bit more about influencer marketing in our blog post form earlier in the year.

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We saw a lot of marketing strategies really take off in 2018 and we expect to see a move towards integrating them more fully into 2019’s plans. I’m talking AI, programmatic advertising, user-generated content, personalization, video marketing, voice search, the consumer desire for authenticity, chatbots, and experiential marketing. But getting a little more granular, influencer marketing, Stories, micro-moments, and visual search really made their claim in the marketing world in 2018. And, Google rebranded its ad offerings! All in all, a pretty exciting year.

Read Dowitcher Design CEO’s thoughts on what trends to expect in 2019.

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