What are the Current Trends and Technologies Driving Digital Marketing, and What’s Next?
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Online digital marketing evolves and adapts in response to various key factors. The changing demand of rising demographics such as Gen Z and millennials are shaping the market. Digital marketing specialists have many tools at their disposal, but chief among them are the possibilities brought about by technology.

It is a fast-paced industry with constantly shifting strategies reacting to societal changes and digital advances. But what are the current trends, and what is the next step for digital marketing?

Younger demographics have differing demands

Multiple trends are altering the marketplace driven by younger generations born after 1980 - a demographic that now dominates online purchases.

Inclusivity is a significant trend and is now essential for marketing. Younger audiences and marginalized minority groups want to see a more optimistic and varied depiction of people in the media and brands they favor. According to a study by Accenture, this is already affecting purchasing behaviour. Their study found 41% of shoppers shifted some of their business away from retailers that didn't reflect the importance of inclusivity and diversity. This figure is higher among diverse shoppers.

Like inclusivity, people are increasingly passionate about sustainability. As a result, brands must appear to care about the environment and offer sustainable products. A study by Nielsen found "81% of global respondents feel strongly that companies should help improve the environment". That figure continues to rise.

It can be challenging to find the right balance when it comes to marketing campaigns. One survey found 88% of Gen Z stressing the importance of privacy. However, a different study found 47% appreciate relevant advertising, and 44% want ads to be relevant to them personally. An older survey of millennials founds similar results, with 84% of the demographic stating a dislike of traditional advertising. The desire for both privacy and targeted ads is hard to achieve.

Technology is creating new trends and new opportunities

Sometimes, technological advances and trends lead to new digital marketing methods.

Given the advances being made by Google and Apple in Augmented Reality, for example, it is likely that there will be increased opportunities to engage customers virtually. Similar possibilities are likely in VR thanks to companies like Facebook buying Oculus.

Even before the pandemic, there was an increase in live-streaming and influencer content, which are proving beneficial to digital marketers. For example, live viewings on Facebook rose 50% in 2020, and  TikTok has been downloaded two billion times globally. These platforms and influencers are trusted. They overcome younger generations' distrust of traditional advertising and are more specific in their targeting.

Another popular social media trend embraced by digital marketers is 'shoppable posts' that directly connect users to product purchasing pages. Consumers are looking for the easiest and most convenient way to shop. Digital marketers have been leveraging the fact that the average social media user scrolls through sites for an average of around two and a half hours a day.

A trend that is not new but still rising in popularity is 'customer segmentation'. This is the idea that instead of running extensive marketing campaigns targeting general populations, it is better to run smaller campaigns that target specific audiences. This means groups can be targeted by traits or behaviours, leading to accurately tailored campaigns.

One cutting edge approach is to use data-driven digital marketing that uses algorithms to continually and automatically optimize marketing campaigns. This removes the guesswork a lot of digital marketers undertake when targeting groups or adapting to changing consumer needs.

A great example of this is Oxford-based Vidliz, founded by Ohad Ben Artzi and Jonathan Brin. Ben Artzi, an experienced creative marketer, explains, "Traditional digital marketing agencies create YouTube, Facebook, paid, organic, or any other type of marketing campaigns and then keep it as is, or manually optimize it. Vidliz, however, uses its algorithms and scripts to test and analyze the campaign's success with minimal human intervention and as much machine management as possible."

He continues, "The approach is ideal as it can be tailored for a client's needs and avoids a lot of the problems faced by digital marketers. If, for example, customers demand more inclusivity, desire more targeted advertising or grow to dislike the way products are presented, the algorithm will detect that and change accordingly."

Co-founder Jonathan Brin, whose background is in data science, says, "Algorithms are adjusted, or sometimes created, per the campaign's needs, and are constantly tested for performance. Then, based on the algorithms' accumulated data, the analysis would point out the strengths and weaknesses of the campaign and improve it.

"Our algorithm has worked brilliantly and driven measurable results," Brin says. "We are now working on Vidliz 2.0, which will give clients a better insight of the right content strategy. That means that the clients would be able to determine better how to present themselves to their end-users and their investors."

This approach has been proving popular. In 2018, when it was founded, Vidliz managed marketing campaigns with budgets of around $3 million. In 2020, that had shot up to an annual rate of over $25 million and is expected to double or more in 2021.

In the world of digital marketing, the important thing is to keep evolving and staying ahead of both social and technological trends. New generations and products are changing the landscape, and traditional marketing methods need to adapt to survive.

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