2019 saw steady growth in the digital landscape. From influencer marketing and detailed targeting to enhanced mobile experience and transformed online video search, a lot has come to pass this year. As we bid goodbye to 2019 and enter a new decade, here’s a glimpse of some of the digital highlights from the past year.
As the audience is becoming smarter by the day, the way they search is also changing. Over 60% of millennials opt for visual search over any other technology. The reason behind this is quite logical – it helps consumers address questions that are otherwise hard to put into text-based searches. With this shift in consumer habits around online product search, internet giants are transforming accordingly.
For instance, based on the realization that shoppers turn to Google images for inspiration, Google introduced Shoppable ads on Google images in 2019. This trend also led to the growth of Pinterest Lens, AI-powered visual search tool, that can today recognize more than 2.5 billion objects across home and fashion Pins.
People are adopting the story mode to share moments on social media and 2019 saw continued growth of Facebook Stories, Instagram Stories, and Snapchat stories. This fun, casual, ephemeral, full-screen feature is a perfect fit for the modern digital nomad.
Along with their visible growth, TechCrunch’s report also states that Stories are growing a whopping 15 times faster than feeds. Apart from this, Instagram, one of the most famous photo-sharing platforms reported 500 million daily active Stories users worldwide.
A Story in itself is an incredible channel for self-expression and sharing content but the introduction of AR adds a rich, interactive and dynamic layer to it, taking the Story to a whole new level. One of the best examples that we can consider is the newly launched AR Bar in Snap Camera called scan. This amazing feature requires you to scan any particular object by pointing your camera towards it. Be it a product on Amazon or your dog, Scan will locate contextually relevant Lenses for it. To follow up in the competition, Instagram has introduced Spark Studio, a platform for creating AR effects. This recently announced feature will also enable users to virtually “try” products before making a purchase in the app.
The trend of online shopping has taken a new turn with over 87% of people claiming that social media influences their decision to buy a particular product. Keeping social commerce in mind, Instagram is spearheading the revolution with its In-App Checkout feature, announced in late March 2019. The social media giant, Instagram reports 130 million Instagrammers tapping to reveal product tags in shopping posts each month which has created a wonderful opportunity for brands to connect with their customers at the moment of inspiration. Along with dramatically shortening the journey from product discovery to purchase, the Checkout feature will soon enable the users to browse, select, and pay on the same platform.
While browsing the internet, most websites want to collect user information. Keeping consumer benefit in mind, the EU’s initiative was to protect user data and integrity, but in turn, it has set off a global epidemic of companies trying to get consumers to sign away their rights to personal data. This has turned the browsing experience into a real chore. A survey by Ericsson Consumer & Industry Lab supports this fact as it states that only 8% are comfortable with always having to accept cookies and data collection, whereas 51% are annoyed by it. Trying to get users to allow cookies might, in fact, be counterproductive.
With a smart audience and evolving influencer marketing landscape, it’s essential to keep in mind who your brand partners with. It’s a struggling task for the macro-influencers to justify their rates, counter fraud, and prove ROI. This has resulted in a shift to smaller voices taking hold that has only accelerated over the last 12 months. The general public being savvier knows how sizable the fees of macro-influencers can be and that’s a big turn off. Looking for authentic content if they realize that the influencer is being paid in lakhs, it becomes disingenuous. This lack of trust is the primary reason that has led the brands to go back to this peer-to-peer grassroots level with nano and micro-influencers.
With a shift in focus from match types and terms toward context and users, keywords are no longer the primary search lever. Google’s latest update to Search ads makes it evident as it enables brands to improve their targeting by layering affinity audiences and seasonal event segments for in-market audiences on top of keywords. This new capability allows Google search campaigns to be targeted more precisely than ever before, leaving advertisers room to experiment with messaging, bidding, and broader keyword targeting.
April 2019 sparked concern among the influencer community for who the number of ‘Likes’ on a post is a success metric. It began with an announcement by Instagram which was about the introduction of a new test of hiding total like counts on posts. This change acted as an opportunity for brands and their agency partners to produce content by partnering with content producers that are authentically aligned with their brand. This would lead to the building up of a relationship with the audience, nudging them to buy into their brands and not just double-tap. This step by Instagram was to help refocus the attention away from bloated credit to the authentic influence.
In 2019, global players like Spotify and YouTube Music brought a wave of change in India’s music streaming market. This gave brands new opportunities to connect with consumers more closely based on factors such as mood and interests. The fact that most of the audio listeners are highly engaged over both desktop and mobile, makes it a premium mode of advertising. Compared to the traditional marketing techniques on various platforms, audio ads enable brands and their agency partners to advertise in a time slot where they wouldn’t have to compete with other advertisers.
No matter the product or service you provide, there will always be a competitor. Thus, the difference a brand can make depends on the way they market their product. And with so many trends that evolved in 2019, it’s always beneficial to stay up to date. Being an important year for digital, it has given us a lot of changes to look forward to.
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