It’s that time of year again, folks – time for the annual digital marketing predictions to fill our inboxes just in time for the new year. Some predictions will be dead on, while others… not so much. Unfortunately, we won’t know if these predictions are any good until this time next year.
That said, it’s not stopping me from making them - here are my thoughts on where we're headed in 2019.
1. A US data privacy bill will be passed next year
Similar to Europe’s GDPR, the US will pass legislation protecting the privacy and portability of consumers’ data. The breaches have become much more frequent and brazen over the last couple of years, impacting most Americans - just this week, in fact, Quora announced it has suffered a data breach.
Two Congressional committees are drafting language for the bill now, and it'll likely include civil penalties for companies that experience data breaches.
2. Native advertising technology companies will surpass 550 globally
This time last year, the native advertising technology landscape had 402 companies represented globally. That was up from 272 the year prior. This growth trajectory has it poised to easily surpass 550 and possibly 600 vendors over the course of 2019.
3. There’ll be more arrests globally for ad fraud
It’s long been known that online paid media is rife with waste, fraud and abuse - estimates indicated that between 5% and 20% percent of the budgets spent are wasted. This year, for the first time, the FBI charged eight people with industry relative ad fraud.
Given the amount of fraud that exists, it’s not a stretch to predict that more such arrests are coming in 2019.
4. Amazon’s revenue from native advertising will grow faster than previous estimates
While Amazon is certainly not a member of the duopoly club, it is the second fastest growing online advertising network behind Snapchat. Ad sales are estimated to grow 10% next year, with 2018 revenue at $4.6 billion. I predict that ad sales will grow 15 to 20% next year.
The reason is simple – quietly, there’s an entire SaaS ecosystem and specialized agencies being built on top of Amazon’s advertising product across the US. It’s these upstarts and entrepreneurs that will fuel the growth of Amazon’s advertising revenue to the tune of 15 to 20%.
5. The lines between marketing and PR will continue to blur
The rise of influencer marketing has blurred the lines between communications and marketing - add to that the adoption of sponsored content across both comms and marketing and you can see the confusion starting to grow.
This trend also manifests itself in technology - I know many marketers that regularly use PR software and communications professionals that use marketing software. Why? Because the two disciplines are practically merging. Yes, legacy corporations have their silos and will continue to, but as long as the tactics and technology continue to intermingle look for the lines between the two disciplines to continue to blur.
6. Facebook’s user base will decline in the US
The second and third quarter of 2018, Facebook saw it’s user base decline in Europe. There’s no reason to believe this trend won’t make its way across the Atlantic in 2019 - with its data breaches, fake news and divisive polarized political banter, many folks will quit using the platform.
7. Blockchain in advertising becomes much more pronounced
As noted above, transparency in display advertising is an issue. The amount of waste, fraud and abuse is in the billions of dollars. FedEx’s CEO famously said that blockchain technology would empower them to provide 'house-to-house' service in Mexico with the transparency necessary to prevent and identify theft. It’s this same technology that will provide 100% transparency in the online advertising realm - while not mainstream, look for a big push in this direction next year.
Those are my predictions moving into 2019. I’ve been writing this annual post for the entire decade, and while I don’t bat 1000, my track record is pretty good. However, we’ll need to wait a full 12 months to know how accurate I was.
Another new annual tradition I’ve taken on is a follow up to this one – I’ll be identifying those predictions for next year that you should ignore. There’s a lot of them, too. It’s coming soon.
A version of this post was first published on the inPowered blog.