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BizReport : Trends & Ideas : November 03, 2018

The 7 Most Surprising Online Marketing Changes of the Last 5 Years

We're nearing the end of 2018, and it's been one heck of a ride for online marketers. Between new emerging technologies, shifts in user trends, and a handful of old practices that have started going obsolete, almost every marketer worth his salt went through some significant changes over the course of the past year.

As we all gear up for the exciting year that 2019 is bound to be, I'd like a chance to reflect on some of the biggest and most surprising marketing changes of the last few years:

1. Google stepped up its mobile game--hard.
Mobilegeddon is the change everyone focused on, but Google's done a lot to step up its mobile game. The mobile-friendly update was significant, drawing a stark line between mobile-optimized and non-mobile-optimized sites, but also consider John Mueller's comments that mobile-only sites are okay too. With Google also streamlining its desktop local search results to match its mobile search results, Google seemed to take a stance that mobile was the primary source of traffic these days, and that desktop traffic either didn't matter or was only a secondary priority.

2. Twitter is now aggregating content from users.
Twitter's new Moments feature has somewhat polarized users, but you can't deny it's led to some interesting developments in the social world. Now, users can see content aggregated from millions of users all in one place, surrounding various events and news items. Accordingly, social users have new ways of submitting and consuming information, and more content than ever is being sourced and culled from massive user bases. It will be interesting to see the next stages of this intelligent algorithm, or if it appears on other platforms.

3. Pinterest has established a world of e-commerce/social hybrids.
Pinterest took a massive step forward for the social media marketing industry with the introduction of "buyable pins," which work like normal pins, except users have the option to purchase the product featured in them. So far, the program has been a massive success, and Pinterest is working on expanding the platform rapidly. Already, the social platform is becoming something of a social media/e-commerce hybrid, achieving the best of both worlds and helping both consumers and businesses. I expect more social platforms to adopt similar programs in the near future.

4. Instant Articles are changing both social and content landscapes.
Facebook's major innovation was the release of Instant Articles in October of 2015, which allow select publishers to feature their work directly within the Facebook app (so users don't have to leave). Because the content exists solely in the Facebook platform, it's a brand-new way for publishers to think about reaching audiences, and a step forward for social apps striving for greater user retention.

5. Big data is becoming more and more necessary.
As big data becomes easier to acquire and analyze, more companies are incorporating it into their demographic targeting and overall marketing strategies. Accordingly, marketing competition online has grown fiercer and more targeted than ever. Big data on your target markets is all but a necessity as we move into 2019, and it's bound to only grow in importance.

6. Online videos have dramatically evolved.
You may not have noticed, but online videos took a major step forward in the last few years. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are now featuring auto-play functionality for videos in their newsfeeds, and new platforms like Vine and Periscope are proving that users crave videos more than ever. It's demanding more companies to integrate a video strategy into their marketing campaigns.

7. RankBrain will usher in an era of AI algorithm updates.
In 2015, Google announced a new element of its classic semantic search-focused "Hummingbird" update--RankBrain. RankBrain is currently learning new ways to break complex and ambiguous user queries down to more focused, understandable queries, but what's really impressive is that it's an artificial intelligence algorithm. It learns new bits about user behavior all on its own and design its own search algorithm improvements to incorporate. It represents an era where search engine algorithm updates are no longer large, manual pushes, but instead are minor tweaks, automatically designed and implemented by a central program. SEO professionals and agencies are adapting to this change by altering how they conduct white label link building services for their clients, as link building has long been one of the most impactful ranking factors in the algorithm. Will RankBrain make links even more important?

Going forward, I think it's reasonable to suspect that the majority of these trends and changes will continue evolving well into the next year. Of course, 2019 is bound to have its own surprising changes head as well, so stay sharp, stay up-to-date, and keep updating your marketing strategy as new tools and resources become available to you.


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