Looking Ahead: 6 Things Coming in the Future of Digital Marketing

Few industries have experienced such rapid and perpetual growth as digital advertising. Over the past decade, marketing priorities have changed as consumer habits have evolved.

The ability to adapt quickly is one of the advantages digital marketing has over other mediums. For this reason, it has never been more important for businesses and advertisers to look ahead into the future and try to find the “next big thing” in order to gain a competitive advantage.

Nobody can see exactly where things will end up, but there are plenty of indications where the industry is heading. In this article, I’ll dive into 6 features of digital advertising you can expect to see coming in the not-too-distant future.



1.      A Shift to Experiences

As a new consumer generation comes of age (what’s up Gen Z?), there has been a sea change in the buyers’ collective mentality. No longer is the focus on the accumulation of desirable goods, but rather what those products can do to improve life experiences.

To put things in simpler terms, instead of focusing on the features of, for example, a new phone, it’s more important to focus on how those new features are going to improve the lives of consumers.

A generation that has grown up with the internet has become accustomed to being flooded with ads. It’s no longer enough to simply put products in front of eyeballs, but rather to appeal to emotions in order to garner conversions.


2.      Customer Engagement

With today’s massive online global marketplace, brands must compete not only for an initial sale but for brand loyalty as well. That means developing a relationship with customers that goes beyond just commerce.

Social media content that focuses as much on lifestyle considerations as it does on sales is the future. Placing an emphasis on both entertainment value and relatability is going to help grow your online following, which will in turn lead to loyalty, and ultimately future sales.

In short, it’s better to talk with your online following than simply at them. Listen to customer feedback, address concerns or questions, and let them know that you’re hearing what they’re saying.

One example of this can be seen with Spotify’s social media customer service team. An early adopter of this mentality, this particular brand has leveraged social media in a way that shows its subscribers that they truly care about their experience beyond just getting new users.


3.      Virtual and Augmented Reality

First it was social media marketing, then a shift to a mobile-first mindset. Next, video marketing stole the show. Many industry experts predict that virtual and augmented reality could be the next big opportunity for digital marketers.

Yes, the technology is still relatively new and not as pervasive as the more traditional forms of online advertising, but getting out in front of new mediums will pay off.

What does VR and AR marketing look like today? Here are a few examples for inspiration.

Even if your marketing team isn’t ready to dedicate a significant amount of resources to AR and VR just yet, it’s something to put on the radar. Start putting together ideas now so that when time is right, you won’t be lagging behind others in your industry.


4.      Local Focus

Brands that rely on foot traffic, such as restaurants, have a unique challenge when it comes to digital marketing. Whereas others might be concerned with generating online sales, these businesses should focus on overall brand awareness in their local areas.

In the past few years, Google My Business has become an increasingly important tool for local businesses. At the most basic level, brands must make sure that their listing is filled out completely in order to perform favorably within Google’s algorithm. Adding high-quality imagery, obtaining customer reviews, and utilizing the “posts” function all play a role in this.

In addition to Google My Business, several digital local-search-focused platforms help to build citations which further increase performance on search engines. Consider adding these to your overall digital strategy to stay relevant to consumers in your area.


5.      Tell a Story

It has long been said that the best advertising is that which tells a story. This has never been more important than it is today.

What is different about storytelling today is that it needs to happen quick…like under 10 seconds quick. The average attention span for digital ads has become so short (one study says it’s around 8 seconds) that brands don’t have much time to get their message out before users continue scrolling.

For this reason, the ‘Stories’ feature that is now available on just about every major social media platform needs to be a focus of your marketing strategy. Short, quick-hitting video content is the way of the future, so start experimenting today to see what resonates with your audience.


6.      Social Responsibility

The concept of socially-conscious brands is not new, but it is something that has grown significantly over the past decade.

It’s crucial to note that socially-conscious doesn’t have to mean taking a political stance. Although some brands have had success with this strategy, there’s always the risk of alienating potential customers.

Instead of choosing a side, focus on the things that everyone can get on board with such as: supporting your community, being transparent about privacy, and recognizing that there are things more important than simply driving revenue.

It only takes one good act to go viral and generate endless positive publicity for your business.


Wrapping Up

Adapting to a new generation of customers is a challenge that all marketers face at one point or another. Luckily, with today’s instant feedback through social media, brands can take chances and make adjustments when needed.

Always keep looking ahead to stay on top of the latest trends. Change happens fast, and those who keep up can stay on the path to current and future success.