Growth remains a top priority for online advertising, and driving brand awareness is central to that goal. However, digital marketers face constant challenges—hitting volume targets with paid search, accurate attribution with paid social. Businesses are also busy leveraging audience data with eCommerce—in their quest to drive business results through digital advertising.
That’s according to Marin Software’s latest State of Digital Advertising 2019 report (registration required). The research canvassed the views of over 450 B2B and B2C digital marketing professionals in the US and the UK. The report aimed to understand their top priorities, challenges, and opportunities for 2019.
The report says advertisers are working hard on strategic goals like increasing brand awareness and reducing friction for their clients. They’re also eager to win new business by adopting more tactical plays like running omnichannel campaigns and optimizing performance. Brands who deliver on both strategic and tactical goals will outpace the competition.
Paid search still dominates digital advertising
The study confirmed that paid search remains the dominant digital ad channel, commanding 39% of the total budget. However, the playing field is leveling out. Paid social claimed the second-largest share of advertisers’ budgets (18%) despite well-documented struggles with privacy, followed closely by display (16%).
Instagram and Amazon: Breakout stars of the year
As brands increase their ad spend on Instagram, everyone is wondering if this comes at the expense of Facebook ad dollars. Is Facebook taking money out of its own pockets? Not really. The majority of respondents (67%) say Instagram spend will come from incremental budget rather than transferring from Facebook.
The past 12 months have been kind to Amazon. Sixty percent of the responding digital marketing professionals planning to increase their Amazon spend over the next year. Furthermore, 55% of them started using Amazon because they see it as a significant growth opportunity. In contrast, one in four are looking to increase purchases at the lower end of the funnel.
Despite Amazon’s progress, the offering is not yet considered as sophisticated as Facebook or Google. Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed say the campaign management tools on Amazon are not optimal. Twenty-three percent say the reporting tools are not as established as other channels. In addition, 30% of responding advertisers say lack of expertise with Amazon ads is the primary reason why they are not yet using the platform, so there’s clearly a significant skills gap to close.
Trust is a must: Google leads the pack
Google emerged as the most trusted publisher, with an average score of 4.5 out of 5. A surprisingly high, 98% of respondents rated Google a 4 or 5 on the trust index. However, it’s worth noting that Google is the only publisher that didn’t receive any 1 or 2 trust ratings.
2019 ad innovations
As brands tussle to capture consumer attention, advertisers are turning to new ad formats to break through the digital noise and drive awareness. Eighty-four percent of respondents who use paid search are using or planning to use Google’s new Responsive Search Ads format. Ad spend on shopping ad formats is also rising fast. Sixty-five percent say their company’s use of Shoppable Images within search will increase in 2019.
Video advertising continues to lead the way in paid social. Thirty-two percent of survey respondents report that video is the most effective social ad format. This is followed by image ads (26%), Instagram Stories (23%), and carousel ads (19%).
“This year’s report shows a shift in advertising spend as marketers explore alternative channels and emerging ad formats,” said Wes MacLaggan, SVP of Marketing at Marin Software.
“The digital advertising landscape continues to evolve, with advertisers struggling to close the skills gap as publishers innovate. At Marin, we’re seeing a greater emphasis on video and new ad formats like Responsive Search Ads and Shoppable Images. Advertisers want to gain mindshare and drive growth. The eCommerce landscape is a hotbed of innovation, presenting retail brands with many opportunities and some challenges to navigate.”
Enterprise Times: What this means for business?
Businesses continue to pursue the longstanding goals of driving brand awareness and growing their revenue. They face constant challenges: new and evolving technologies, knowledge gaps, gaining a full view of the customer journey—and that’s just the tip of the marketing iceberg.
Marin Software has compiled a useful guide that outlines the challenges online marketeers and digital advertisers are facing in 2019. The report outlines the trends and shifts organisations need to be aware of. Companies will need to develop the most effective and revenue-oriented advertising programme required to support their business.
The most interesting point raised in the report is the need for companies to get the balance right between strategic and tactical campaigns. As the report notes, brands who deliver on both strategic and tactical goals will outpace the competition.