Five big bets on the future of digital (acquisition) marketing

Five big bets on the future of digital (acquisition) marketing
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With globalisation at an all time high, you can go to the far reaches of the globe and still stumble across a McDonald’s, Subway, Zara, and Vodafone. 

We can get from one side of the earth to the other without too much fuss, yet there are still big differences in the stage of development of different countries’ digital marketing industries.

Cutting through the contrived complexity that often surrounds digital marketing, there are five key developments that should be on every marketer’s mind, these are by no means exhaustive but will help deliver tangible results, positive ROI and ultimately client satisfaction.

Get plugged into an exchange

Real time bidding (RTB) display is growing quickly – with two key benefits; it applies impression by impression bidding, thereby effectively applying search precision to display ads, for the first time display can truly compete with search. The other industry it steals from is banking, using exchanges to trade media, thereby opening up huge tracts of inventory for advertisers, smart targeting and retargeting meaning users are more likely to purchase. Google and Facebook have their own exchanges, smart digital agencies building trading desks. With small overall percentages now, growth is continuing swiftly. Get close to this stuff; in 10 years all media will be bought in this way so watch this space. 

Facebook – massive engagement, will ad revenue catch up with time spent?

Facebook's revenue growth is impressive as is the amount of time people spend on the platform, especially on mobile devices. Finally the ads are getting smarter, take a look down the right hand side of your feed, at least half will be relevant to you. It will never be Google, but it's a smart addition to the digital mix and offers an alternative when struggling with CPAs in search. 

Device differentiation is a temporary state of mind

Is a 7" Galaxy Note a tablet or a phone? The lines are blurred across devices. User behaviour is synchronising across tablet and desktop, Google no longer differentiates the two when it comes to Adwords. While a true mobile user journey still differs from desktop, it's important for business to cater for each device. Think responsive design when it comes to building sites, it'll cost a bit more but accommodating for users on all machines will pay off in the long run. Volume of searches from mobile/tablet has leapt from 10 to near 50% in three years, it's only going to continue in that way. Subsequently, don’t restrict your market to only desktops – you may lose them. 

Link building is dead – long live link building 

Content is king. Google hates SEO – whether they are slapping penalties on those who they believe to have infringed their linking rules or they're pushing everything natural below the home page. So we should stop trying to get sites to link back from us? Absolutely not. Links are still the number one factor when it comes to Google ranking a site in natural search. What's required is content, good quality fresh relevant content on your site, on other sites and on social channels. Keep linking content back, but put the user at the heart off everything you do. Make the content interesting, sticky and shareable and you'll reap rewards. 

Can Google hold off pretenders to the CPC crown?

Never underestimate the might of Google and particularly Adwords. Since Larry Page took over as CEO a couple of years ago they've raised what was a pretty high bar even further in terms of innovation. While those around them continue to define their proposition, Google’s armoury gets more powerful. Quite literally dozens of new product developments are released every month, recently from a massive enhanced campaign switch over at the turn of the year, to image ads to making product listing ads paid products. Most impressively though, responding to advertisers finding core generic terms prohibitively expensive, they've started adding user segments.

Demographics and returning users is now key, allowing advertisers to control how much they pay to appear against different types of users. Bid more for the ones they want, don't bother with the ones they don't. It's really no wonder their share price recently went flying past $1000.

Frightening? Maybe. Important? Most certainly. Make the most of it. 

Luke Smith is founder of search marketing agency Croud.            

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