It is December 2020. Spring and summer have continued. We are bowing to autumn as we greet winter and the holidays that distract us from the longest year of our collective lives.

Usually this time of year is an e-commerce and retail rage, the "big show" of what marketers can do during the shopping season. It means budgeting for the new year and trying to plan for the future. In a year like 2020, how can one possibly plan for the future?

The equation is intense:

Thirty years of relentless change in digital marketing
THE year of unprecedented elements


The need for a solid plan

The solution, however, is straightforward: what has come all along?

Whether it's an idea that has finally solidified (voice search, anyone?) Or the deep dark fear that keeps us up at night (more cookie blocking?), These concepts don't come as a shock. But the way you have to approach them can come as a surprise.

1. Drop the manual

Automation is now a necessity for the efficiency, but also the practicality of the functionality that our platforms provide. Over the years we've preached about automated bidding, straightforward reporting, and even budgeting tools. If you haven't explored these, don't wait for the year to end!

Dynamic ads

One type of campaign that is still underutilized, despite requests from our well-meaning friends at Google and Microsoft, is the dynamic search ad campaign. Our own Shannon Macklin provided a breakdown of how DSAs are set up in Google – surprisingly, they're almost identical in Microsoft! – but beyond the how you should ask yourself What You are trying to achieve this in a new and relevant way until 2021.

We all know that search queries are on the rise. On an average day, over 63,000 Google searches are performed every second. Fascinatingly, around 35% of searches contain more than 4 words. This makes the fact that around 15% of Google searches have never been crawled before, quite believable. When you think about how DSAs work, the goal is to capture these variations and tie them to relevant ad copies and landing pages. A human may not be able to rate every variation of a search, let alone the intent that the user has subtly shown in their online behavior prior to that search. The concept of query mining is not wrong, but they are not exactly efficient at optimizing performance in a changing world. Dynamic search ads are created to capture these details and provide the user with a relevant, even positive experience. With this in mind, we tested DSAs for our customer Parkmobile and achieved fantastic results in this case study.

If you haven't set up this type of campaign in the New Year to make it easier to access requests you can never expect, now is the time to do it!

Voice search + DSA

There are more unknowns as voice search technology becomes more popular. Many resources speculate about the integration of voice search into home environments and continued consumer behavior. Given the growing popularity of smart speakers, currently estimated by Statistica to be a presence in 40% of US households, we expect further reliance on spoken requests. And what do we know? Since the unique nature and multiple combinations that often result in “how” or “when” or “what” make it critical instead of focusing on mining individual keywords, let's take a step back and let them reveal themselves to us.

Make sure to use best practices when creating your first DSA campaign. A starting point is how you target and channel your users: you can choose specific landing pages or URLs, but choose the landing pages for standard ad groups. This means that the content you share is already approved for your marketing strategies! You can also target categories. However, if this is your first rodeo I would recommend starting a little more conservatively with specific URLs or page details. Google clearly sets out these options for easy adoption.

2. Your platform options are changing – who should you reconsider?

Many of us take pride in doing tests. Give each platform a chance, or at least a well-intentioned conversation about the potential. If we often fall short, we need to find out when to revisit this platform and know what progress is flowing through our newsfeeds month after month.

Facebook shops

Sure, you've gotten started with FB's own shopping features, but have you started taking advantage of the power of Facebook Shops, a newly added tab in the FB app? 2020 has drastically changed the way people shop, support small businesses, and interact with social media. This new shopping experience for Facebook and Instagram is an amalgamation of these factors. Facebook Shops likes to wait for your company's Facebook page or Instagram profile and can also be found through stories or ads.

LinkedIn stories

Often times, the development and profits of one platform result in creation and offering on another. LinkedIn stories are a fantastic example of this, as Facebook and Instagram have been offering this dynamic way of sharing since 2016, and LI is just jumping on board. As a huge Neil Patel fan, I appreciate his breakdown of where to start when incorporating LI Stories into your marketing strategy. With over 700 million users worldwide on LinkedIn and an average swipe-up rate of 15-25% on Instagram, there's huge potential to reach your audience in a whole new way. The big question is: what will your video hold up?

For more LinkedIn updates, check out our Brainlabs Social Specialist, Noah Lewchenko's post on "Upcoming LinkedIn Ad Products for B2B Marketers".

Reddit inventory expansion

If you hypothesized that Reddit might connect you to your user base but felt constrained by a lack of options, fret no more. In the past few months, Reddit's blog announced a long-awaited update on inventory types. Now this platform, which is known to have a higher unduplicated reach than other social platforms and more than 430 million users per month, offers more options to start or customize your marketing journey in the New Year.

Snap First Commercial

We, the agency folx, have learned that if you go to the trouble of creating an ad, it is best to create variations for all potential platforms, especially for video creatives. Make a video for Facebook? How could we need a customization that is perfect for YouTube? Or maybe Instagram? Or could we use it in the new LinkedIn stories? With Snap you can now present your best motif with the option of a homepage takeover with First Commercials. Although this was announced earlier this year, we are currently seeing brands like Tinder trying and with promising cost-effectiveness. If you're already accepting all of the video, you'll need to use all of your options, including snappin 'it up, to stay ahead of the curve.

TikTok Shopify integration

And last but not least, TikTok has improved its shopping game on the list “Sources of Inspiration and Joy 2020” and integrated it into Shopify to provide consumers with error-free access. Although TikTok has so far allowed marketers to tie the two platforms together, codes often had to be tweaked, which makes some non-coding marketers a little nervous. Now it's a quick 1-click process that gets the ball rolling that much faster.

If you haven't used this feature for the holiday shopping season (it's not too late yet), 2021 should be your time to get on board with this feature. We still have many e-commerce opportunities ahead of us, with holidays to celebrate parents, share birthdays, and see a rough year behind us.

In short, the platforms that may have been pushed aside as “too new” or with incompatible offerings are now back in the game. As the year 2021 begins and the focus of the world shifts from pandemics to re-entering a socially engaged market, you won't want to catch up to catch up with increasing momentum.

3. Privacy is a real concern and a real opportunity.

Since 2018, we've known how data regulations would turn our worlds upside down, especially when it comes to third-party cookie data. With the introduction of the GDPR in Europe, entire marketing strategies were rerouted and revised to complement what was left in the data landscape. With the California Consume Privacy Act going into effect, we know that the interest in keeping your information safe remains of paramount importance and is still an active topic. In addition to ongoing legal considerations, technology providers are driving this progress. Safari was one of our earliest exposures to the impact of privacy measures, adding Firefox and Chrome as well.

These changes are not in the hands of the marketers, but we do have the ability to plan and pivot. Take stock of what you know in 2021. Take stock of the data you have. What else of your (converting) traffic is affected by these inevitable shifts? Did you pay attention to your before / after performance when the safari blockers blew through town? While you may have been surprised in 2019, you have all the signals to prepare for the next wave, whether from technology providers or legislation.

The tide has turned – do you have your swimming device?

As you work through your privacy policy and restrictions plan, it can be an overwhelming concept. Are you looking for an agency that can help you? Contact the friendly specialists at Brainlabs Digital to see how they can help you. But with or without a plan, these changes come.

All in all, your digital marketing strategy for 2021 should remain focused on entering the new business world, with social media putting our audiences and automation (in whatever form you adopt) at the top of the list. Also, take time to review the priorities that you know will affect the pike. Few things are more completely surprising. What really surprises us is how quickly time flies. Well, in other years than 2020.

Good luck marketer!


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