Trends in Marketing

There have been some significant changes in marketing in recent years. A search for “marketing trends” reveals over 350 million articles including this one (Knight, 2016): it is a very hot topic. But what is really going on in the art and business of marketing?

The share of digital/mobile in the overall media ad spending share is increasing year over year. The research firm eMarketer estimates that budgets for digital advertising will  surpass in 2017 the budgets spent on any other traditional marketing initiatives (TV, print, radio, outdoor, and directories). Marketing is also moving away from a product orientation to a social / mobile orientation.

Whereas marketing campaigns from even a decade ago were focused on loose metrics such as GRPs for TV audience measurement, or Arbitron numbers for radio, advertisers’ ability to track visitors’ movements across the web, and (with the growth in mobile device adoption) advertisers’ ability to use location data entail better tracking of responses to marketing messages and the ability to connect with the customer where they are.

Big data analytics enable the rapid processing of information from disparate sources. The resulting insights allow marketers to see trends quickly and act on opportunities before their competitors do. Data is collected from visitors’ movements across the web, across apps downloaded to browsers and mobile phones, and from customers location information on their mobile devices. Wearable devices, such as the Apple Watch, fitness trackers, step counters and other health monitoring devices, and various mobile apps that present tracked data together with users’ age and health information can also offer actionable information to marketers.

Companies like Facebook and Google not only enable companies to target customers based on their location, Likes and message content (updates, messages, sharing activity) but also extend that targeting across their advertising networks outside of these properties, a process called remarketing. A Google user may visit an ecommerce site, view products but not complete a purchase. If that ecommerce site has a remarketing agreement with Google, it will still be able to reach people who have visited the website or used its app (if available) and not purchased anything. These visitors will see ads for that company as they browse websites that are part of the Google Display Network, or when they search for terms related to the company’s products or services on Google. A similar service is also available on Facebook – which explains why, when friends discuss a product among themselves on Facebook, they will sometimes see ads appear for that product, sometime later, on their wall feed and elsewhere on the web.

Customers are defending themselves against intrusive advertising. On the regulatory front, legislation is in place against companies sending unwanted communications to web users. These laws prevent infringement on privacy and enforce respect of customer consent. In Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is in place; in the US, Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (CAN-SPAM) has been active for over a decade; and in Canada, the Canada Anti Spam Legislation (CASL) was finally enacted a little over a year ago.

On the personal front, web users defend themselves against intrusive advertising by downloading and installing apps such as AdBlock and AdBlock Plus on their browsers, and using apps with similar features on their mobile devices. But advertisers have been intruding into that protective shield – some ad blockers now offer a ‘white list’ of ‘approved’ advertisers! These still can be blocked if the user knows what advanced settings to push. And ad networks continue with the cat and mouse game of defeating ad blockers on some pages, and accessing the viewer nevertheless.

And this is not the only challenge for advertisers: with the proliferation of mobile devices using two major operating systems and a myriad of screen sizes, these new platforms and new formats also challenge agencies’ designers.

In summary the overall trend in marketing is moving towards a personalized experience for targeted customers, rather than a mass-marketing spend. Big data analytics enable brands to better understand what customers may want now, and may want in the future. Mass media is still used to bring awareness to new brands and new products, but now marketers have tools to generate interest and the desire to purchase by using more sophisticated tools …when the customer provides consent.

Image by Kris Krug “ESRI Conference in San Diego” CC BY-SA 3.0


Knight C. (2016) The Future of Marketing in 2016: Hot trends and what to watch. Retrieved from  

Trends in Marketing

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