Digital Marketing Trends of 2020

With the start of a new year, comes the resolutions, gym memberships, and a fresh take on everything else we’ve been doing! Though we know that nothing changes overnight on January 1st as if with the flick of an imaginary light switch, that doesn’t stop us from thinking of the new year as a clean slate and the perfect time to give our lives and industries a little shakeup.  And digital marketing trends and practices are no exception! With the dawn of 2020, things that were conjecture of decades past or of very limited and specific use such as, AI technology, voice searches, and 5G data, are now a reality and have been intertwined in the lives of more and more of the general population.

The Drum speculates that by the start of 2020 and through the coming years, the digital industry will be on track to grow to nearly $74 billion. This means even more funds will be channelled towards digital marketing with some professionals suggesting that by the year 2022, nearly 87% of marketing budgets will be spent on digital marketing.

Clearly, it’s more important than ever to be an in-the-know player in the digital game. Digital marketing goes beyond simply having a digital campaign or media plan. The web-based world we live in now demands a digital presence that is informed, well thought out, and keeps up with the digital marketing trends—if it doesn’t sit on the cutting edge, that is. That’s a lot of pressure right!?

With only a few weeks left in 2019, it’s a great time to look ahead into the trends we’ll have to contend with to slay the digital marketing trends in 2020!


Changes at Google

Google AdWords is a major part of online advertising for a great many brands. Google itself has become irreplaceable in the finding, sorting, and publishing of information—including digital ads! To keep up with the ever-expanding demands of its platform, from consumers and advertisers alike, Google has been steadily evolving. Additional services and changes to their algorithm is the reason that Google has maintained its status as the most used search engine and one of the most lucrative advertising platforms.

Where you could once find simple pay-per-click ad, Google (like a substantial amount of the world now) has started integrating machine learning and AI technology to allow a proper landing for an advertiser’s customer-centric marketing efforts. Ads published on Google are now able to reach the right customers at all the various stages of the buying journey, whether it’s a straight line or more of a rambling journey.
In one of the more major changes to digital marketing trends in 2020, The Google Display Network (GDN) has leveraged and incorporated three optimization techniques into its Smart Display campaigns:

  1. Automated bidding: your advertising bids are set according to the likelihood of conversion in each ad auction, so you get the best value for your placement each time
  2. Automated targeting: this allows your campaigns to be places where they’ll get you the most business, optimizing your campaign runs
  3. Automated ad creation: you provide the headlines, copy, images, and logos and Google automatically generates the best combination of elements to create an ad that gets served across the GDN

Google’s Smart Display campaigns will allow your brand to benefit from a highly optimized campaign across the GDN that are served to customers who are most likely to convert. The benefits are pretty clear but in case you’re looking for more info on Smart Display campaigns, you can find all the information you need here.

So, Google has changed how ads are served across the GDN, no doubt to compete with other mega information and product companies (*ahem*, Amazon). But never one to stand still, Google has also announced the addition of some new types of ads.

Google’s Discovery ads are native ads that will appear in multiple Google feed environments. When describing these ads, Google’s VP of Product Management says they are “visually rich, mobile-first and use the ‘power of intent.’” Of course, the power of intent is a culmination of all of the information that Google has already gathered on an individual or group of users that it uses to target its other services as well. Discovery ads will allow a user to showcase their product in a singular image or a swipeable carousel. These ads will be run across YouTube’s home feed, Gmail promotion tabs, and of course, the Google Discover feed.

Gallery ads are more visual-based ad placement on Google that will appear at the top of mobile searches, though they will still compete with other search ad formats for the coveted #0 placement (the first Google search result, appearing even above organic SEO listings)  at the very top of the results. Gallery ads offer the allotment of four to eight images with up to 70 characters for each. While CTAs aren’t necessary on every image, even a swipe to the next picture will count as a ‘click’ and be charged to the advertiser as such. Carrying on the idea of being “mobile-first” as Discovery ads are, Gallery ads will only be available on mobile.

Showcase, or Shopping, ads came into our search-sphere in 2016 as a way to offer retailers an option to present their products in non-branded searches. So what’s new here? Well, Google has announced that Shopping ads will now extend to Google Images, Discover feed, and YouTube. Usually, Shopping ads are made up of the main image and several smaller images that expand to show other products from the same retailer and often, they can offer information about a store location if it’s nearby the user, as well as instore deals. This allows for the consumer to purchase products on merchant sites, in-store, or directly on Google.
If you’re thinking “Wow, a lot of these changes are mobile-centered”, you get a gold star because the next area of advertising that 2020 will blow wide open is . . .

Mobile Advertising

We’re now in the time when nearly every single person has a smartphone with them all. the. time. And it’s fairly old hat to shout about the frequency and number of mobile phones used to find and search up millions of bits of information every day. What isn’t old hat is the staggering numbers behind mobile advertising and just how far advertisers and platforms, such as Google, are going. Mobile customers are now not only getting the same experience as a desktop customer but perhaps maybe even a different or deeper experience. Mobile advertising is poised to reach over $6.8 billion by the end of 2019 and what’s more, it’s showing no sign of slowing down. Mobile is also predicted to “surpass TV as the medium attracting the most minutes.” For brands, this is a massive industry and mindset shift. What will come onto the scene as the new(ish) piece of the puzzle in 2020 will be the difference in access and interaction with advertisements that will be available to mobile audiences. Content will become more interactive and showcase various aspects of a brand or product, be it shoppable posts, AR/VR, 360-degree video, polls, or other AI-generated experiences, mobile ads will truly transform come 2020.

The addition of 5G technology to the mass populace will also allow consumers the access and use of more content which will drastically increase the audience count on a global scale. AI will also allow for more personalized content in general. What this means on mobile is specifically tailored ad experiences, interactive ad units, and videos that each user will find interesting to watch and learn from. It may come as no surprise then that the next area to be heavily targeted by marketers as they focus on digital marketing trends in 2020 is . . .



It’s already a pretty major part of digital marketing now but rumour has it, it’s about to get so much more important. According to the IAB’s Video Advertising Spend Report 2019, video budgets are up 25% year over year, with nearly 90% of marketers utilizing video in their digital campaigns. But video content might be taking a slightly varied form going into 2020 and beyond in a format called bumper ads. Bumper ads are six-second videos that are proving to be very effective as brand reach vehicles. Launched on YouTube as an add-on to traditional Google advertising campaigns, these videos can extend the reach of an existing campaign or spread broader brand messaging to a varied audience. As if we need another reason to live for peanut butter and chocolate, Reese’s was one of the big brands to jump into bumper ads earlier this year:

The IAB compiled a report about the influence of consumer mindset on digital video and ad receptivity called A Day in the Life of Video Viewers and it paints a picture of an increasingly video-driven audience in nearly every industry.

They found that over 70% of consumers over 13 years old in the US watch online video weekly with 41% watching video multiple times daily. Nearly 80% of digital consumers will watch advertising in exchange for free content.

Additionally, live Facebook and Instagram videos get watched up to three times longer than non-live videos. So yeah, you’re going to want to make sure you’re on the up-and-up, video-wise come 2020.



It’s no secret that generic ads don’t have much of a place in the world of consumers. While they don’t want to feel stalked by certain products or ads, responses to advertising that has a connection to the user have a much higher success rate. And of course, who better to help us prove this point than the ever-mighty IAB. Their study, The Value of Targeted Advertising to Consumers, shows exactly how customers feel about personalized ads. 71% of consumers prefer ads targeted to their interests. Nearly three-quarters of online customers prefer fewer, but more personalized ads than they’re currently receiving.
This proves that consumers aren’t looking for every possible thing they could buy to be advertised to them, they’re in search of a personalized product suggestion and experience from branded advertising.

What’s going to take the personalization of digital ads even farther in 2020 is the rise and further integration of AI technology. Some brands are already leveraging this technology in their media plans and digital advertising. Digital marketing trends in 2020 show the draw of AI as a compelling addition to any brand looking to increase its ad personalization. It offers a detailed and comprehensive view of the purchaser’s persona, as well as a blend of other marketing data compiled from other sources and blended to give an even more well-rounded understanding of customer habits.

Forbes has reported that nearly 49% of shoppers disregard irrelevant ads, but on the flip side, nearly 36% will respond positively to a message that is tailored to them and their interests. With the rise of social media algorithms, Amazon, and now AI, it’s safe to say that audience responses and attention will be reserved for only hyper-relevant advertisements. Ads that offer a personal suggestion, rather than simply another product to purchase.

And there you have it! With the normalization and integration of technology that previously seemed like far-fetched folklore, it seems that with the projected digital marketing trends in 2020 the future is here. But actually, the future is really here.