Personalization

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Google, Too Big To Go Unnoticed

A major announcement came this week with the opening of an antitrust investigation into Google. The tech monopoly is being scrutinized for their stronghold on the market which is stifling competition and industry innovation due to their overwhelming control of the market. The probe specifically targets Google’s advertising structure and search technology which have made it difficult for other businesses to compete in the space, harming availability and pricing for consumers.

Big tech companies have experienced this level of criticism from European countries but this is the first it has come within the US. The multi-state bipartisan investigation has been prompted by filings from 50 US Attorneys Generals in what they see as a lack of Google’s desire to leverage the free market for success and undermining consumers to gain an overwhelming share of the digital space. 

The investigation is still very much in the preliminary stages but is expected to expand to data privacy and usage, as has been the focus for other large tech companies. The banning together of the state attorneys generals should not be taken lightly as they have had significant impact on the structure of other industries such as payment from Big Tobacco for related health issues and anti-smoking campaigns to the reform of mortgage lending practices that were harming consumers. The spotlight on Google could intensify the digging into big tech practices depending on their findings.

While it would be premature to speculate where this will lead, it’s clear that the tech giants are under the microscope. It’s also important to note the timing of the investigation as it pertains to the political arena. With so much concern around fake news and bias by big tech, it could be another push for clean and fair election practices.

https://www.mobilemarketer.com/news/google-targeted-by-state-authorities-in-antitrust-probe/562565/

Some Good News For Facebook

The Facebook News Tab is becoming more of a reality and details are emerging about how the platform will integrate with publishers to curate news content. The move to include a news tab has been carefully planned as the company has faced ongoing scrutiny whether they have previously harbored political bias when choosing stories to highlight. In the new launch, Facebook plans to partner with ‘high quality” news outlets that lend credibility to ensure information shared is accurate and dependable.  

An internal memo was obtained this week detailing Facebook’s news content selection process which included the assistance of human editors who will play an integral role in choosing which news headlines are displayed on the tab. What was not clear was how the company will create clearly defined policies for those employees as to avoid personal bias playing a factor.  

As outlined, the editors will focus on promoting news based with the outlet that first broke the story and also prioritize those done by local media. While this sounds good on paper, the execution could prove to be a bit tricky, especially in the case of major news events where it’s critical to get the information out quickly and accurately. 

The most critical of the editor duties noted in the memo may be working to avoid content that’s “constructed to provoke, divide, and polarize” and focusing stories with “on-the-record sources.” Many news outlets choose more riveting headlines to evoke an immediate response to read and share the news. Using less descriptive headlines may decrease engagement for both Facebook and the publisher. 

Reports on publisher licensing were also included and are said to involve three-year contracts between the news organizations and Facebook that also include up to $3 million in payments from the social media giant. The large payout is believed to show Facebook’s commitment to building a reliable news platform. However, it also poses questions about the details included in the arrangement and the accountability required by entering the partnership.

As the electoral season is about to head into full swing with candidate and social topics taking up much of the news cycle, it will be interesting to watch this story develop. The addition could open an opportunity for news redemption for Facebook or it could plant additional seeds of doubt as to the company’s motives.

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/more-details-emerge-around-facebooks-coming-news-section/562735/

Uncle Ben’s Brings Dinner To Life

If you’ve ever wandered the grocery aisle hoping for some dinner recipe inspiration, Uncle Ben’s is serving up just what you’ve been looking for this month. In a partnership with the visual search technology of Google Lens and Innit, a personalized food shopping solution, shoppers will be able to scan the company’s products as well as some in-store displays for an enhanced shopping experience during “Family Meals Month.” The scan will connect with Innit for recipes and how-to videos incorporating the selected product. Customers who are registered Innit users will have access to additional recommendations based on their app profiles where they’ve provided food preferences or dietary limitations.

Accessing personalized, real-time content offers the company a competitive edge for shoppers struggling to plan a quick meal. By offering meal suggestions that include other Uncle Ben’s products, it could also boost sales and boost brand loyalty.

The partnership could be the first of many as visual search continues to gain popularity. The additional customization that comes from using Innit brings added ability to remove the stress of family meal planning, providing additional convenience to shoppers and more family time around the dinner table. 

https://www.mobilemarketer.com/news/uncle-bens-serves-dynamic-content-in-stores-via-google-lens-integration/562785/

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Get Your Competitor’s Facebook Ads, Straight To Your Inbox

If you’re like most marketers, you often wonder what your competition is promoting on Facebook in an attempt to adjust your own strategy. By combining Facebook’s Ad Library and some clever automation, PixelMe released a way to be notified of your competitor’s latest marketing with an alert sent straight to your inbox. 

The introduction of the free service, called AdInboxMe, makes tracking your enemy’s ads easier than ever. The process is simple, marketers create an online account and enter Facebook page URLs they’d like to track. AdInboxMe will then send alerts with the launch of new Facebook ads for the corresponding brands with the link to the promotion details. That’s it! You get up-to-date information delivered without any extra searching.

Although only recently launched, the company has seen overwhelming excitement around the service and is currently on a waitlist. However, interested marketers can complete a form to reserve their spot. As PixelMe evaluates performance and interest, they are also considering offering a similar feature for Google Ads and Linkedin.  

While the process seems simple, the tool’s time-saving ability may prove invaluable. The waitlist isn’t getting any shorter so hop over and save your spot.

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/new-tool-provides-email-alerts-whenever-your-competitors-launch-a-facebook/559669/

Spotify Hears Advertiser’s Requests

Spotify has been expanding its targeting capabilities on its self-serve advertising platform to help marketers better reach their desired audiences. In response to recent reports that show a 25% increase in brand awareness with use of the platform, advertisers are looking for ways to leverage the streaming service to strategically market to audiences.  

The new targeting options include interest targeting and real-time context targeting, available to reach Spotify Free users. Interest targeting analyzes users’ data through playlist and podcast preferences to identify related targeting categories for a more granular reach. Real-time context targeting allows advertisers to reach listeners when they are streaming at specific times of the day as they relate to activities identified by account use. Options include working out, studying, dinner time, etc. for delivery of a more personalized experience. The additions come just a month after the introduction of podcast-based targeting, which allows brands to market to listeners based on podcast content categories.

Spotify’s continued focus on expanding targeting capabilities comes as advertisers are looking for additional ways to reach the ad-supported service available free to users. The expansion of opportunity also helps the company better monetize the growing free user base. 

https://www.adweek.com/digital/spotify-ad-studio-now-offers-interest-targeting-real-time-context-targeting/

Netflix Accesses Physical Activity For Streaming Improvements

Netflix is taking its streaming capabilities one step further. The app has been discretely tracking customers’ physical activity to evaluate the need for increased video buffering for viewers on the go. The relatively innovative concept is an attempt to provide higher quality streaming for those in motion without any extra steps from the user. 

The initial tests were run with Android app users to collect and evaluate data that would aid in the improvement of the viewing experience. The testing considered not only daily physical activity such as walking or running, but also outside factors like commuting via mass transit which could impact the strength of signal. Lower quality service during such times could result in frustrated users who then abandon their streaming during those times.  

While the company seems to have concluded testing, users are apprehensive about how the data collection was handled. The permissions were automatically activated and could only be disabled manually if customers happened to notice. The lack of required consent makes some have increased privacy concerns about other tracking pushed without their knowledge. 

Although now publicly addressed, the company has yet to elaborate on next steps in response to the results. Netflix has also neglected to respond to requests on if or when the physical activity recognition tracking will now be disabled.

https://www.theverge.com/2019/8/1/20750424/netflix-physical-activity-tracker-data-stream-quality-test

5 Key Strategies for Improving Customer Retention and Driving Loyalty

Companies spend a fortune on advertising and influencer marketing to draw in new customers, but they shouldn't neglect their existing customers in the meantime. The cost of attracting new customers is said to be up to seven times greater than the cost of retaining existing customers. Profitability has the potential to soar by 75 percent from just a 5 percent increase in retention. Here are five simple ways to help ensure you keep your hard-earned customers coming back for more.

 Keep It Personal

Never miss an opportunity to treat people as individuals. If you send out emails, personalize the greeting and give your customers the opportunity to tailor their experiences on your site to meet their needs.

Remember, customer service is key. Customers have countless options for companies to deal with, and they won't stick with one that doesn't give them the service they expect. Research reveals that 47 percent of customers would leave a company within just one day of a poor customer service experience.

Go Mobile

The world's gone mobile, so don't get left behind. In 2018 there were approximately 4.57 billion mobile phone users, and those people expect to be able to engage with your brand wherever they are. That means not only having a web-presence, but also making sure your website is mobile-friendly. If customers cannot access your services, or if they become frustrated with your website because you haven't optimized for mobile devices, they're going to turn to another company instead. You may even want to consider an app if that could be applicable to your business to make sure your mobile experience is as streamlined as possible.

Use Social Media

Social media is an incredibly powerful marketing tool. It's a way to build a relationship with your customers. You have the opportunity to communicate with them through tweets or videos, and they have an opportunity to engage with that content by liking, sharing, and leaving comments. This helps to build a sense of community. If you keep providing enjoyable content, your customers are going to keep coming back to see more of it.

Have a Strong Brand Message

Your customers are real people with real emotions, and finding a way to tap into those emotions helps to develop loyalty. People like to deal with companies that share their world views. Having a strong brand message (such as reducing your impact on the environment) gives them a reason beyond value and customer service to back your business. In fact, in a study by Verint Systems, a company specializing in customer engagement, 69 percent of respondents said ethics was a strong factor in choosing an organization, with 49 percent of them saying they would likely switch companies for ethical reasons.

Listen and Learn

The best way to deliver what customers want is to put yourself in their shoes. Listen to what they're saying and never miss an opportunity to receive feedback. Read the comments on social media, provide feedback forms, encourage them to complete questionnaires, and monitor their usage of your website to identify the pain points that cause them to click away. Analyze data carefully, and incorporate the information into your strategies.

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Tech Giants To Face Congressional Hearing

Next week, digital tech giants Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook will put their competitiveness aside as representatives from each are set to testify before a congressional panel. The companies are all part of an antitrust investigation as concerns rise about their hold on the market. Details are still sparse, but questioning will likely center around the massive control and influence the digital companies have over internet practices.The case comes as there are growing concerns the tech companies are abusing power to discourage competition.The hearing will involve each facing the House of Representatives antitrust subcommittee. 

As the congressional trial hearing looms, the case isn’t to be taken lightly as big tech company practices have been under intense scrutiny over the last year.  the investigation is not focused on any one particular company, but rather the operation of the industry as a whole, potentially having a ripple effect on others in the space.

 The probe is just one of the legal challenges big tech is facing lately. As reported by the Wall Street Journal last month, Google is involved in a separate investigation with the Department of Justice in relation to the collection and monetization of personal data. Legislation, such as the DASHBOARD Act and a bill preventing location tracking without direct consent from users, is also being proposed to better regulate the industry and protect consumers.

As the spotlight continues to shine on tech industry leaders, more details are being uncovered about operation practices. However, with the evolution of technology continuing at record speed, proactively protecting consumers will be an ongoing challenge.

https://adage.com/article/news/google-amazon-apple-testify-antitrust-probe-congress/2182656

Instagram Adds Restrictions For Bullies

In a follow-up to Instagram’s anti-bullying commitment, the company unveiled a new platform feature this week intended to combat harmful and offensive comments. As previously noted, Instagram has been experimenting with ideas to promote a greater focus on community rather than competition and encouraging users to have more control over their experience.

The new feature will leverage AI to monitor comments as an added reminder for posters to rethink negative online comments. When a user attempts to post something which could be deemed offensive, they will receive a notification asking if they are sure they want to continue the post. The alert is meant to trigger additional thought and reconsider their actions before posting.

The next phase of control options plans to test ways to restrict unwanted users without their knowledge. With many young people reporting that they are hesitant to block, unfollow or report harassing users in an effort to avoid escalation, both on and off online, Instagram will offer a “Restrict” option. Without notifying the offensive party, all comments from the restricted user will only be visible to them as if they are posted but no others will see their comments on posts without the approval of the profile owner. This will also prevent the blocked user from seeing if the person who enabled the function is online or has read their direct messages. 

As bullying and positive mental health continue to be prevalent issues for social media platforms, Instagram is dedicated to refining their strategy to maintain a community focus.

https://instagram-press.com/blog/2019/07/08/our-commitment-to-lead-the-fight-against-online-bullying/

Google shopping just got more personal

For many shoppers, Google has become the first stop for a quick comparison of products and brands. Without having to visit multiple sites for information, a quick search displays multiple options for buyers, making shopping online even easier. The feature also benefits retailers as purchases must be made on their respective sites, driving additional traffic.

The ability to see reviews in the product postings is a feature many shoppers value when comparing options. In an effort to add authenticity and a more personalized experience, Google has now included customer photos to the product reviews. With 88% of shoppers researching products online before making a purchase, this addition will encourage more user-generated content and unscripted product information.

While it’s uncertain exactly how this will impact advertisers, it will incentivize them to encourage customer feedback and take note of what people are saying in the market. As shoppers are increasingly influenced by consumer reviews, the added feature will not go unnoticed. 

https://searchengineland.com/new-google-shopping-program-enables-customer-photos-to-show-with-their-product-reviews-319341

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Streaming Video Exceeds Cable Subscriptions

For the first time, video streaming service subscriptions surpassed cable, jumping up 27% to 613 million subscribers last year. The shift is attributed to the consumers being drawn to services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime for the 24/7 accessibility across devices and original programming.   This trend further is likely to continue as more cable subscribers “cut the cord” and rely on digital video for programming.

ttps://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-21/netflix-s-growth-helps-streaming-eclipse-cable-subscriptions

McDonalds Uses AI to Drive Personalization

In an aggressive move to integrate a more tailored dining experience, McDonalds acquired the personalization company, Dynamic Yield.  This technology will be used to create a dynamic menu that will adjust to variables such as weather, time of day or trending menu items.  It will also aid in upselling, or suggesting additional items that compliment your selections. They will begin leveraging the technology for drive-thru customers and plan to expand to self-serve kiosks and the mobile app.  McDonalds plans to roll out the new technology in the US throughout 2019 to increase customer service and clearly distinguish the company from competitors.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/03/25/mcdonalds-acquires-dynamic-yield/

Big News From Apple

On March 25th, Apple introduced its streaming service, Apple News+ to the public.  While some industry insiders remain skeptical about the announcement, publishers are hoping to use the service to expand their audience and drive digital subscriptions.  Apple News+ includes over 300 magazines and select newspapers for a monthly fee. Publishers view this as an opportunity to reach and engage a news centric audience, driving their own revenue through advertisements.  While the audience is shared across multiple publishers, this approach offers the chance to reach readers who may never interact with some publications and gain loyalty. Publishers are not expecting this to be a magic solution but an added layer to in their efforts to increase readership and expand audiences.

https://www.adweek.com/tv-video/publishers-view-apple-news-as-an-experiment-not-a-solution-to-the-industrys-woes/


Facebook Amends Targeting to Fight Discrimination

Facebook is refining it’s targeting options as they pertain to employment, housing and credit advertisements as prompted by a recent settlement agreement with leading civil rights organizations.  Brands promoting these items can no longer target users based on demographic information such as ethnicity, age, gender, religious affiliation or family status. Based on the previous set-up, targeting could include or exclude these criteria or create look-a-like audiences to target similar users.  While Facebook continues to be under right scrutiny for it’s policies, this is just another step they are taking to earn user’s trust and continue focus on data privacy concerns.

https://www.adweek.com/digital/facebook-is-revamping-its-targeting-for-housing-employment-and-credit-ads/

Your Guide to Keeping Consumer Data Secure While Personalizing Campaigns

Customers expect personalization. A well-crafted email with a customer's first name and a product suggestion related to a past purchase, for example, has become the norm.  Research shows 98 percent of marketers believe personalization advances the customer relationship, with 74 percent claiming it has a "strong" or "extreme" impact on the relationship, according to Evergage.

While marketers see the value of personalizing messages, creating them requires customer data. To market effectively, you have to know a lot about a customer. That can range from basic information (such as a customer's name and hometown) to more intrusive information like buying history and spending limits.

Having this kind of coveted data provides amazing targeting applications, but it also comes with great responsibility. Customers are concerned about privacy. One survey shows 91 percent of Americans believe customers have lost control over how their personal data is collected and used, according to Pew Research.

So how can brands provide personalized marketing and protect customer data at the same time? Here are some tips:

Get Consent to Contact

Before reaching any customer digitally, make sure you have permission to do so. Aside from being a best practice, it's also mandated by new privacy legislation. The European Union's GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), for example, requires businesses to get consent from digital customers before collecting, storing, and using personal data.  Although this legislation was passed in Europe, experts say more laws aimed at protecting personal data elsewhere in the world are likely in the future.

How do you get consent? Ask customers to voluntarily join your email list, or run a promotion on social media that asks for permission to contact the participant with future offers. Whatever the tactic, get permission to make contact.

Don't Assume You Know What Customers Want

Many marketers make assumptions on behalf of customers, and that is starting to bother those customers. What kind of assumptions? Marketers sometimes use pre-checked boxes on forms that automatically sign up subscribers for promotional emails. These pre-checked boxes assume every customer wants to get coupons or a weekly email digest, when customers might not want that at all.

Or, let's say you're at a trade show and you exchange business cards with dozens of people. When you get back to your office, you add everyone to your email list. Why? You assume everyone wants to stay in touch after the show. But they didn't give consent to join your email list at all. That's another assumption.

One of the best ways to respect customers and their privacy is to avoid making decisions for them.

Explain How Information Is Used

One of the best practices pushed in laws like the GDPR is transparency. GDPR requires brands to tell customers how their personal information is collected, tracked, and used.  Many brands use cookies to track a customer's online activities. Since GDPR was enacted, brands must explain how their sites' cookies collect, track, and store data. As a result, you've probably seen "cookie consent" messages pop up on your favorite websites, like this one:

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In this case, customers can accept the data tracking policy, select how much data they want collected, and see how their information is used by the company.

Whether you use cookies or not, one of the best ways to show customers that privacy matters is to explain exactly how you gather and use their personal information.

Be Honest About Data Breaches

Data breaches happen, and some of the biggest companies have experienced them. While they're embarrassing, it's important to tell your customers about it, and quickly.  

In the U.S., Uber was forced to pay a $148 million settlement when a 2016 data breach was found to have been covered up by the transportation company's then-CEO, Travis Kalanick. The breach wasn't made public for a year, according to USA Today.

Customers want transparency. In Europe, the GDPR sets strict requirements that companies notify customers of any stolen data within 72 hours.

Personalization and privacy have become a balancing act for brands across the globe. Customers want personalized experiences, but they want to trust their data is safe and being used in ways that they approve of.

Digital Marketing Trends for 2019

To kick off 2019, we’ve identified the top trends you can leverage to improve your marketing strategy, reach a growing audience and boost branding and sales. We cover the advancement of voice search, the increased adoption of streaming video and the implications of artificial intelligence on how chatbots can improve your business to name a few.


Watch the webinar for a full breakdown of the 2019 trends worth noting for your marketing strategy.

Leverage First-Party Data to Boost Personalization

To succeed in today's marketing world, personalization is crucial. Research shows 84 percent of customers say being treated like an individual and not a number is important to winning their business, according to Salesforce.

To treat customers like real people, you need to know who they are. But this isn't always easy. Sure, you might remember a few customers who frequent your business, but it's impossible to know everyone, let alone create marketing messages tailored to each person.

Personalized messages rely on customer data. You need to collect data in every category possible. From collecting email addresses at checkout and tracking order histories to asking customers to fill out forms and surveys, your data collection strategy should be diverse and continuous.

Any data you collect is considered first-party data. Thus, the emails you collect on your website form, the information shared when customers join your social media contest, and the data collected as customers browse your site are all first-party data. You collected it.

To help marketers take personalization to the next level, we'll dive into the data world and explain what first-party data is and how to utilize it.

  • Tips for Using First-Party Data Effectively

Once you have first-party data, it's time to put it to work for you. Here are a few tips:

  • Do a Deep Data Dive

At the beginning, you probably focused on collecting the basics from customers, such as their names, email addresses, and ages. Now, it's time to go deeper. You need behavioral data like past purchases and browsing history to create more detailed messages.

  • Refined, Smaller Segments

As you collect more data, you can create more defined segments. Essentially, you should segment your segments. For instance, if you segmented your customers by sex, take it one step further and segment based on past purchases. So rather than just sending an email to all female customers, you can send an email to all female customers who made two shoe purchases in the last month.

The further you define your segments, the more personal the messages become. An email aimed at your female customers isn't as targeted as an email sent to shoe-loving female customers who have recently made purchases

  • Use Data for Targeting

You can leverage first party data to improve your advertising strategy. Platforms like Facebook, for example, allow you to input data to customize audiences that see your ads. The more data you have, the more likely you are to attract interested customers.  

  • Deploy Retargeting Messages

By monitoring customers' online actions, you can deploy retargeting campaigns that are specific to each user. Let's say a customer comes to your site, searches for shoes, and spends considerable time looking at a pair of black heels, but never makes the purchase. They can then be retargeted via a variety of platforms (social, mobile, desktop, etc) with a tailored message that includes that same pair of shoes.  Retargeting gives you the ability to deliver personalized content to customers who have actually shown interest.

With these tips, you can up your personalization game and start connecting with customers on a deeper, more meaningful level.

Getting Started With Marketing Personalization

To reach customers, a generic email, text, or Facebook ad won't cut it. Today's customers have high expectations. They expect personalized advertising that's relevant to their lives, and they are willing to help make that happen.

As many as 57 percent of consumers are willing to share personal data, as long as it results in personalized content and offers. At the same time, the majority of consumers (88 percent) aren't happy with the level of personalization they receive from brands they like, according to research presented by Econsultancy.

To help marketers better meet consumers' expectations, we'll explore what personalization is and why it's important, and provide a few tips to get started.

Personalization Defined

Personalization is more than just adding a customer's first name to an email subject line. Personalization is the act of knowing your customers and creating customized content and messages that resonate with each one. Customized content can take many forms. From sending a personalized promotion to customers based on their purchase history, to targeting a specific audience for a Facebook ad.

Why Personalization Is Important

Personalization helps brands attract and retain customers. By crafting messages and ads that are relevant to customers, you’ll draw more people in and keep the customers you have delighted with your efforts.

In time, you’ll build a relationship with your customers. It's similar to building a relationship with a friend. The closer you get and the more experiences you share, the more trust you develop.

As we've mentioned, customers want personalization. In fact, 58 percent of customers are willing to switch half of their spending to brands that excel at personalization, according to a recent report.

Tips to Achieve Personalized Marketing

To put your new personalization strategy into place, here are a few tips to get started:

●       Collect the Right Data

Get to know your customers. In today's modern age, that means collecting personal data. You'll likely need a tool or platform to collect, store, and utilize the data. Ideally, you'll get both demographic information (like name, age, and sex) and behavioral information that tracks things like past purchases and visit frequency.

●       Segment Audiences

Your customers are likely a diverse bunch. To pull off personalization on a large scale, you'll need to segment your customers, or break them into smaller, like-minded groups. Doing so gives you the power to create content for each niche.

●       Start Small

Create a small list of ways you can personalize your next marketing campaign. Don't try to do it all at once. For example, segment customers by location and send a promotion that's specific to a store in that area.

●       Test, Test, Test

As with any marketing campaign, you should test to see what's working and what's not. You can test many different personalization tactics. For instance, you can send an email that includes a customer's name and test it against a generic message that doesn't include the name.

Personalization is an important marketing and advertising tactic, but it takes some time and effort to perfect. You need to collect data and leverage it in a way that customers will respond to. Doing so will help you build a strong relationship with your customers.

2018 Review - The Year in Digital Marketing

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Digital marketing had a tumultuous time in 2018. Technology moved into new areas for growth over the past year that affected the way we shop, communicate, and live. From the growth in artificial intelligence and automated voice systems to live video and changes in Facebook’s algorithms, it was clearly a year to remember in digital circles. Let’s take a closer look.

Facebook's News Feed Algorithm Changes

This year started with a shock when Facebook announced changes in its feed algorithm to promote more content from local news sources, friends, and family for “more meaningful social interactions.” Facebook also wanted to lessen the number of publishers’ news items in feeds, and the company may have wanted to thwart the rise of hackers and bots as well. Regardless, the January move by Facebook threw a wrench into marketers’ plans for the year, creating a period of adjustment. This link shows all of Facebook’s algorithm updates over the years.

AdWords Grew Into Google Ads

In mid-year, Google announced it was switching the nearly 20-year old brand “AdWords” to the simpler “Google Ads.” Google said the change reflected that its ads are all over the digital landscape now in web display and video ads, text and shopping, and even in app installations; ads are not just words on search platforms. Today’s web advertisers with Google can now run ads on Google’s search platform, on apps and websites, in Gmail, and on a variety of YouTube offerings. The name change represents a shift in digital thinking for marketers, and one that will likely pay big dividends to Google in the years ahead.

AI Technology Growth

Another huge trend in 2018 was the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) technology by marketers across our data streams. Increasingly, companies are using smart systems, chatbots, and devices for more accurate customer segmentation and improved customer interactions.

We all contribute to the increase in AI when we personalize our recommendations on services like Netflix and Hulu. Other brands including Hilton, Levi Strauss and Co., and Nordstrom are using AI in chatbots to customize sales interactions with customers. Look for this digital marketing category to expand in 2019 and 2020.

Smart Speakers and Voice Search

In just two years, smart speakers have invaded our homes. Today, nearly 50 million Americans own a smart speaker, and that number will likely increase as people get more comfortable with sharing their living spaces with these devices.

Voice search is also growing fast. Web research firm Comscore predicts that more than half of all searches by 2020 will not be done by type or text but by voice. You are already seeing more people at work talking into their devices on search requests. It has become as commonplace as our desktop searches were a decade ago. Marketers will have to adapt to reaching consumers on smart speakers in the home.

Growth in Instagram Stories and Live Video Outlets

Another trend we saw in 2018 was the rapid rise in the use of live video and Instagram Stories. The number of users who create live video on their mobile phones and share with the world rose dramatically in 2018.

Google’s YouTube is the frontrunner in live video, dominating the amount of time spent by users watching video online.

The number of daily active users on Instagram Stories rose to some 400 million, Instagram reported in August. That’s from a universe of over a billion active monthly users. By contrast, Snapchat finished the third quarter with just 186 million daily active users.

Marketers are following those numbers, too. eMarketer noted that 86 percent of marketers use Facebook and almost 70 percent of marketers use Instagram. Only 28 percent of marketers use Snapchat. 

Personalizing the Consumer Experience

A growing trend in 2018 was the increase in personalization in many of our customer experiences. With our mobile devices and search immediacy, we are able to move quickly between purchase considerations and actual purchases. Increasingly, our expectations have risen across all our customer experiences. The winners will be those businesses that can deliver on the personalization process.

Marketers recognize this and have advanced to using SMS messaging, mobile apps, social media, and voice automation to personalize their communications with us as consumers. It’s a world in which we’re becoming increasingly comfortable, and we anticipate more of these personal customer journey touchpoints around us in the coming year.

In Rapidly Evolving Digital Age, Retailer Success Stems From Personalization

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Our VP of sales and strategic accounts and the creator of Quantum, Brian Kroll was recently featured in a Total Retail Article focusing on retailer's success using personalization.

As retailers scramble to keep up with an ever-changing media landscape and constant technological advancement, the need to adapt and embrace new models has become abundantly clear. In order to stay ahead of the curve — and possibly to stay in business — retailers must not only listen to evolving consumer demands and habits, but respond to and anticipate them. Today’s consumers are perpetually omnichannel and “always on” with digital media, so the key to thriving in this challenging retail environment is adaptive personalization within your omnichannel customer experiences.
— Brian Kroll

Kroll dives into what personalization means, how to put it together and what's in store for retail. Read the full article here.