# 1 - Amazon will continue to eat into Google’s and Facebook share as a media partner:
Amazon is not going to overtake the big two anytime soon, however its entrance into the top 3 media partners and the diversification that it brings as both a retailer and advertiser make it a worthy addition to your testing budget. Dependent on the sector and the maturity of the brand, Amazon can be more important. For new start up brands or niche product lines with low search demand, this can be the best route to market to launch your offering, whilst building your ecommerce capability. Both Google and Facebook are seeing the diversity that Amazon are able to offer are seen as a major long term threat. For example, Google’s reaction to launch shopping actions (in beta across the US and France) shows the threat that Google are feeling from their rival by moving into the marketplace model. Early indications however show that this doesn’t feel like its a big enough game changer to compete with Amazon as a marketplace, especially with the Google's delayed launch into the UK. Although its still very early days, this feels the same as Googles' foret into social demonstrated by Google+. Looking at Facebook, they are trying to to compete in a similar way with their Instagram Commerce offering, however it is still early days to judge whether this will be a real alternative for customers and there are some customer experience glitches, which brands need to get over.
# 2 - Brands will need to focus more on enabling their first party customer data:
Its amazing to me that Customer Match was launched by Google in 2015, however at least 75% of brands that I have worked with havent adopted their first party customer date into their campaigns. At best, brands are using them for tactical event campaigns e.g. new store or product launches. However this is generally not applied to always on campaigns across the full media mix. Although this seems a dated conversation, as a consumer very few brands have developed a targeting strategy based on my previous shopping behaviour. If I have just purchased a TV from you, why waste your ad spend continuing to target me with the same products. Serve me advertising for a compleentary prodcuct instead. To enable the power of your first party data, brands should be looking at how to utilise their Data Management Platform (DMP) capabilities across all channels and ensuring they have a data team who are commerically aware of the problem your product and service solve. Many marketers do not either know that they have a DMP or have access to the data team, who have developed the customer segmentation approach used for channels such as email. This needs to permeate across the whole of the digital marketing channels and web site experience, rather than the current fragmented state we are in.
# 3 - Automation will continue to be a hot topic:
The need for more automation was a big theme which many tech partners including Google pushed in 2019. Your Google account managers will have no doubt talked to you about the benefits of implementing Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs) and Smart Bidding, to save time and improve your campaign performance. It's essential to understand what is right to automate versus where the human touch still needs to be applied and what are your key priorities for the year. One that often gets overlooked is to develop ways to streamline reporting. Reporting performance on a daily, weekly and monthly basis is a key ritual across any brand no matter what the vertical. Agency and in-house teams spend hours manually compiling reports, not taking advantage of the capabilities of online reporting solutions such as Data Studio and Tableau. Better accessibility to this data would improve decision making. If you are using an agency ask how much of the time they are spending on you as a client is on producing. If its more than 10%, you should be challenging why it is taking so long and whether it could be automated, Time saved here should give your agency or in-house team more time to interrogate the data and understand the 'why' and answer the 'what' should be done next.
#4 - More value to be placed on affiliates:
This may be a slightly controversial one, with many industry experts talking around the death of affiliates for a long time, whilst many brands habitually questioning the incremental value. My thesis has always been if your competitor is using the channel (especially cashback affiliates) you should do it too (but do it smarter). Cashback affiliates such as Quidco can now offer more from a customer targeting perspective and you can look at paying out commission based on profit margin too. It should be remembered that it provides a low risk option to generate those vital sales at pace.
#5 - The art of measuring success will become more challenge:
Although GDPR has been and gone, consumer privacy is at the highest point. Take the recent honours list leak. This didn’t affect the mass market, however the publicity around this once again raises fears. Google in January announced that they are going to move towards cookieless tracking in the next two years. Is this the new gold standard? Does Google’s move mean their dominance as a media owner and technology provider is secured? From an outsiders perspective, using an industry challenge to retain their digital dominance feels like one of the key motivations. It will be interesting to see how Facebook, Bing, Adobe and other media and measurement providers are going to react? It feels there is space for some new cookieless tracking and measurement entrants into the Mar Tech landscape over the next 12 months.
In summary, whilst there are other things to pay close attention to, including whether Tik Tok as a social platform is going to be commercially benefical for brands, ensuring you have the test budget for the things you didn't quite get the opportunity to to test last year should be your starting point.
As we head into a new year and a new decade, we find ourselves questioning what should make this years digital marketing plans.
As ever, there are lots of new opportunities which industry experts believe digital marketers should chase. However, our predictions highlight it's the things that you potentially didnt quite get round to last year which should be the first things to make your plan in 202o.
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