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Be Thankful for These 10 Online Marketing Trends

  |  November 26, 2013   |  Comments

Recent developments in online marketing make our work easier, more effective and often, more fun. Columnist Kristin Kovner shares 10 marketing trends she's thankful for this Thanksgiving.

shutterstock-136156817As we take time this week to give thanks for our friends, family, and loved ones, remember that as marketers, we have a lot to be thankful for, as well.

Below, a list of 10 trends I'm grateful for -- because these developments make our work easier, more effective, or simply more fun!

1. A Fundamental Shift in Buyer Mindset from Placements to Audiences.  

For ages, we've been talking about the importance of reaching the consumer wherever he or she is. Finally, as Big Data and real time bidding take hold in a meaning way, it seems media buyers -- both direct response and pure brand marketers -- are becoming true believers. In fact, 69 percent more brands participated in programmatic audience buying in the first half of 2013 (over 2012) and the number continues to grow.

2. Helpful Tools to Make Our Emails Smarter.

From Marketo to Sailthru and Silverpop, the email marketing tools we now have at our fingertips are just plain better than they were even 18 months ago. They're easier to use, their dashboards are simpler and they connect with more platforms (ie.: SalesForce, HootSuite, etc.), and they're helping us drive stronger results.

3. Mobile is No Longer a Silo.

Forrester predicted in its 2013 trends report that this would be the year brands stopped thinking about mobile as "just another channel" and started developing multiyear mobile strategies. From everything I see, Forrester was right. Mobile is being integrated into marketing plans earlier, often at the outset, and brands are developing consumer mobile experiences that go far beyond mere responsiveness.

4. Cross-platform Attribution is Becoming a Reality. 

Last year, "cross-platform," "cross-screen," and "cross-device" were used interchangeably. Now, innovative companies are entering the space and starting to tease out the differences among them, solving the larger issue of how marketers should measure effectiveness across all their campaign channels. Once we understand the role each channel plays in our campaigns' effectiveness, we can truly start targeting people.

5. Despite Technological Advance, Great Ad Creative is Still About Storytelling and Emotional Connections.

I love the Dove Real Beauty Sketches campaign. So did the jury at Cannes Lions. Even Coke can make me tear up. I'm so glad I'm not alone.

6. Content Marketing Overtakes Social Media as a Key Focus for Marketers.

We know that the best ads work as content. According to a recent report from eMarketer, Content Marketing is now the top focus for marketers, ahead of even social media and SEO. It's great to see marketers everywhere starting to recognize the interplay among SEO, social media, and content. After all, in order to grow your social presence and your SEO outcomes, you need to start with compelling content.

7. The Grunt Work is Being Automated.

It's true: most media planners and account managers still use Excel for planning and optimizing, to some extent. In fact, recent research shows the majority of time spent by an agency planning and executing a digital media campaign may still be "grunt work." With the advent of automated planning, buying, and optimization tools, we're starting to shift our focus from brawn to brains.

8. New Industry Events Shake Up our Calendars.

While the major industry events are still important and innovating, it's great to see newer events popping up and building a following. From the Mobile Media Summit to Street Fight, some of these newcomers are drawing speakers -- and audiences -- to rival their longstanding counterparts.

9. Social is Now Serious Business.

Nearly every Fortune 100 brand now has a Twitter and Facebook presence. Most of their presences are thoughtful, with strategies behind them that go far beyond "just being there." From customer service to surfacing deals to building buzz, social is now a significant part of most brands' strategies, not just an afterthought relegated to the CMO's executive assistant.

10. It's Just the Beginning!

How lucky are we? The media industry has changed more in the last 5 years than in the last 50 and we've only just begun. As big data, mobile, social, and local come together, the possibilities for innovation are endless.

This Thanksgiving, I'm giving thanks for all the developments above. Don't get me wrong; we still have a long way to go. I'm an optimist, but I'm also a bit greedy. You don't want to see my Christmas wishlist for developments in our industry this year and beyond!

Title image courtesy of Shutterstock

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Kristin Kovner

Kristin Kovner is a digital marketing, technology, and media industry veteran. Her firm, K-SQUARED STRATEGIES, helps high-growth media and tech companies develop and execute best-in-class marketing strategies. Prior to opening her own consultancy, Kristin served as the Vice President of Marketing Strategy at AOL, where she managed the AOL and AOL Advertising brands and set and executed the go-to-market strategy for AOL's owned and operated websites, including AOL.com, Moviefone, MapQuest, Engadget, and The Huffington Post.

Prior to joining AOL, Kristin served as the Head of Industry Marketing for YouTube and held various roles on Google's marketing team. Kristin has also worked as a journalist for Newsweek and SmartMoney, The Wall Street Journal's magazine, and as an economic consultant at Bates White LLC.

Kristin graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude from Yale College and currently lives in New York City.

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