The advent of the internet and social media has revolutionized the U.S. marketing and advertising industries, and has led to the rise of digital (online or technology-based) marketing. New apps and technological innovations continue to drive trends within the digital marketing realm.
1. Voice Search
Nearly 40 million Americans own a smart speaker, according to TechCrunch. This technology allows users to perform a multitude of tasks, ranging from setting alarms to ordering products through vocal commands. “Smart homes” pre-wired to facilitate smart speakers are increasingly popular within new developments. Smart speakers largely rely on the internet to facilitate commands such as “Alexa, where is the nearest drugstore?”
The shift in decision-making from humans to computers poses unique challenges for marketers who have previously targeted individual consumers through original content with little to no relevance to the complex algorithms that drive search engine rankings and smart speakers.
2. Virtual Reality
No longer the sole purview of online gamers, virtual reality (VR) has significant marketing applications. While social media is paving the way — Facebook and Google Cardboard offer 360-degree publishing — private businesses will soon find advertising possibilities within the VR realm, according to a recent article in Forbes.
“It’s only a matter of time before technology evolves and brands figure out how to take advantage of these advancements,” the article said. “IKEA and McDonald’s are one step ahead. IKEA came out with a virtual shopping application that lets you preview furniture in your own home before buying it. And McDonald’s was the first brand to sponsor a bitmoji. In the experience, your bitmoji projects itself onto your forward surroundings and steals your McCafe coffee.”
3. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) gained a foothold in mainstream American life with the rollout of RankBrain in 2015. The Google algorithm uses cumulative learning processes called machine learning to answer online user queries with a high level of insight and accuracy.
“AI is set to save marketers and businesses both time and money,” said writer Joydeep Bhattacharya in a recent Single Grain article. “As a business owner or marketer, it is time to identify the problems that your business or marketing campaign is facing and how accurate insights can solve these issues. Gathering all the data spread across numerous applications into one place will help you to get accurate insights. Whether it’s dynamic price optimization or automatic selection of ad copy based on the user demographics, AI has the power to do it all.”
Chatbots, the AI-based technology increasingly used by businesses to chat with customers online in real time, are here to stay. According to the online business forecasting agency Juniper Research, by 2022, chatbots will help businesses save over $8 billion per year. The ridesharing service Uber is one of many early proponents of the technology. Chatbots provide a cost-effective and efficient service by answering questions quickly while logging customer interactions without the need for human involvement.
5. Influencer Marketing
Social media influencers are individuals with large followings who are seen as having credibility with a specific market segment. They are spokespersons and advocates for products, services, causes and more. Influencer marketing utilizes these individuals to promote directly to their followers. The advantage of influencer marketing is authenticity, though it’s important to remember that these influencers are usually being compensated. In other words, while traditional advertising models relied on print or online ads to promote a particular product, influencer marketing uses the softer method of allowing celebrities to do the legwork.
How an MBA Can Help You Keep up With Digital Marketing Trends
Digital marketing professionals must have a deep understanding of a range of skills, from brand management and research analysis to sales and media planning. The online MBA with a concentration in Marketing from St. Thomas University equips students with these essential skills. Taught by STU professors who bring professional marketing experience to the virtual classroom, the MBA program is designed to prepare the next generation of marketing leaders.
Learn more about the STU online MBA with a concentration in Marketing program.