2017's Top Digital Marketing Trends at Mid-Year

  It's summer, and the midpoint of 2017 is upon us — that time when marketers, small and medium-sized businesses, and agencies take stock of which digital marketing strategies produced results in the first half of the year, and which need to be tweaked. So what kinds of digital marketing trends are we seeing thus far this year?

Online Advertising Spending

Many marketers continue to pour money into advertising campaigns on Google and Facebook, the two dominant online advertising vehicles. New numbers from eMarketer show Google continues to dominate search advertising spending, while Facebook is hustling on the display advertising side, boosting its display advertising business by 32 percent.

Marketers seem to want to find more cost-effective ways to reach targeted customers, but they also acknowledge that people are on their mobile phones more often, using their phones to chat on Facebook or find reviews, directions, and information on Google. Thus, the eyeballs win and the marketing spend continues at Google and Facebook.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is gaining much more traction so far in 2017 than in previous years. Essentially, marketers look to partner with celebrities, sports pros, industry leaders, or hot social media users to essentially drive a brand to a much wider market than on they could through their own efforts. Some of these influencer marketing relationships are direct hires for work. Others might partner with an influencer for a specific purpose. When tightly executed, marketing with influencers via video can have a great impact on brand awareness, product return on investment (ROI), and online sales, among other things.

The big question is how and when to blend influencer marketing into a brand's overall efforts. If brands want to tell content stories with video campaigns using influencers, it's important to bring those influencers in to learn about the campaigns and get behind them in a transparent way. That can help drive even greater awareness across industries.

User-Generated Visual Content

User-generated visual content is one of the fastest growing areas on the digital marketing landscape in recent years. Studies cite visual content shared among users on social media in particular produces a much higher ROI. Twitter found that, on its platform, tweets with visual content are shared much more than tweets with text content.

More marketers are jumping onto video content to drive their brands. Research by video clip company Animoto showed that over 60 percent of SMBs and brand marketers are spending more marketing dollars on video marketing in 2017 than in previous years.

Live Video

If you're a marketer today, you need to look at live video of your events. With millions of people on Facebook, marketers are bringing more live video to the Facebook Live platform. Short-form video shaped around marketers is still the key driver of views on Facebook today, but Facebook's Live offerings are catching up quickly.

Major League Baseball, which had already announced Twitter livestreams of games on Tuesday nights, will start streaming live games on Friday nights on Facebook Live. This is seen by the league as an experiment in audience captures on new platforms. In a related development, ESL, the gaming network, is also bringing livestreamed content to Facebook Live, as reported by SocalProDaily.

Big Data Personalization

Big data personalization ranks highly with content marketing as one of the most favored digital marketing trends. Big data scores well with marketers as it combines elements of data capture, market and customer insight, and predictive analytics. Where is this data coming from? Mostly from website analytics and social media metrics, according to a recent report.

Consumers are on the move, and marketers have to find them through their phones. Knowing a customer's purchasing and demographic information is one thing, but marketers can get even more ultra-specific data on their customers. Gathering data, personalizing offers to customers, and pinpointing local and regional offerings continue to make a big difference in a digital marketing campaign this year.