2018 has been a fairly tumultuous year for marketers. The enactment of the GDPR led to a flurry of tedious "Hey, we’d love to stay in touch" emails, CRM databases were hastily cleansed, and the Cambridge Analytica scandal put marketers’ practices firmly under the microscope.
But it wasn’t all bad. Spring cleaning marketing lists led to better segmentation, increased open rates and engagement, and we learned that the majority of consumers will share personal data and preference insights in exchange for product recommendations and better personalization.
2019 promises to be just as chaotic, but for marketers open to new ideas and committed to delivering a better customer experience it will be an exciting 12 months. Here are my digital marketing predictions for the year ahead.
1. The Rise Of The Zero-Party Data Economy
The distrust following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, coupled with consumers becoming wise to their rights under the young GDPR legislation, has ushered in a new age of privacy.
If 2018 was the year that marketers were forced to wean themselves off third-party data sets, 2019 will be the year marketers shift to zero-party data.
For the unaware, zero-party data is a type of data intentionally shared by the consumer and never inferred. Things like purchase intentions and preferences to improve personalization and help build up a picture of who they are. Empowering marketers to build direct relationships with consumers, and in turn, better personalize their marketing efforts, services, offers, and product recommendations with no guesswork.
Business Analysts at Forrester consider this shift, predicting marketers will address consumer demands for privacy and personalization head-on, creating opportunities across the ecosystem by turning to zero-party data.
“Say goodbye to third-party data and hello to zero-party data. Data that customers own and willingly provide to brands.” – Forrester
2. True Personalization
Like Christmas and turkey, the New Year and fireworks, this wouldn’t be a marketing predictions blog without personalization making an appearance. But while the results of personalization strategies are routinely scrutinized, the quality of the data that shaped them seldom is.
This is because traditional personalization strategies have been derived from looking at previous behavior, evaluating click-stream paths, search terms, purchase history, and other indicators to try and "second guess" the intentions of the buyer.
However, by using the right mechanics and offering a value exchange, consumers will tell marketers what products they desire, what they look for in a service, and what offers motivate them to purchase.
Whether by market forces or design, 2019 will see marketers truly empowered to stop using guesswork and arm them with the information they need to deliver true personalization and make the right connections with consumers.
52% of consumers would share personal data in exchange for product recommendations
3. Marketers Will Augment Their DXPs to Deliver Short-Lived Interactive Experiences
The traditional web content management industry has been disrupted by the evolution of DXPs which furnish marketers with the tools to build impactful, personalized experiences that go beyond the web and support true omni-channel engagement.
But to truly unlock the power of DXPs marketers need design flexibility, rapid time-to-value, and marketing destinations that are creative, interactive, and inspiring. More often than not, these requirements are in direct conflict with how web content management systems have been architected and built in the past.
That’s why leading DXP vendors like Adobe and Sitecore are partnering with Cheetah Digital to help marketers conquer 2019 by rapidly creating short-lived interactive marketing experiences that can be published to every digital channel — not just the website.
4. Shift In the Ad Ecosystem: Live Experiences In-Ad Units
Digital display advertising has been on the decline from around the time the Millennium Bug threatened to break the internet. But like ugly Christmas sweaters, it’s about to enjoy a renaissance.
The issue was that digital advertising perpetuated the lack of real interaction a brand had with consumers. Confusing, exciting and innovative, with flashier, louder, and being better at chasing users from site-to-site.
But by incorporating live experiences into even the smallest ad placements, digital display advertising will become exciting and relevant again in 2019. Interactive experiences that can be seamlessly incorporated into ad units that grab the consumer’s attention, engage, and collect zero-party data on behalf of the advertiser. Combing the reach of traditional ad targeting with interactive digital experiences and data capture mechanics.
14x higher CTR for Cheetah Experiences-powered ad unit publishing
5. Social Stories Overtake The Newsfeed
It’s easy to see why social stories have quickly resonated with modern consumers. They’re interactive, authentic, and encourage direct engagement over passive consumption. And when it comes to social stories advertising, consumers have been optimistically receptive, with data showing huge increases in click-throughs, ad recall, and purchasing intent. But consumers don’t just want to see new products and brand messaging — they want promotions.
While consumers aren’t refusing the notion of ads appearing within social stories, with current call-to-action pages taking over five seconds to load, it won’t be long until they start dismissing ads and taking their eyeballs elsewhere.
2019 will see brands match consumer expectations by building social story experiences that are mobile-first, not just mobile responsive. Instant loading call-to-action pages that deliver not only a stunning user experience for the consumer but yield increased conversions and collect data on behalf of the advertiser.
50% of internet users want to see social stories from brands that include promotions
Richard Jones is the CMO at Cheetah Digital, where he oversees a global team that is responsible for all aspects of the brand, demand generation, digital marketing, corporate communications, and sales development. With more than 20 years of marketing, sales and strategy experience, Jones was previously the CEO of Wayin, a global leader in zero-party data collection and activation. There, he helped many of the world’s leading brands such as Daily Mail Group, NHL, Bauer Media, Vodafone, Priceline.com, Reckitt Benckiser, Air New Zealand, and Manchester City FC create zero-party data strategies.