Research has shown that user-generated content can produce up to 6.9x higher engagement than brand-generated content on social, while the rising use of ad blockers is also pushing many businesses to find ways to get around such measures and ensure their marketing messages are reaching the audience.

So what, exactly, are the latest opportunities and trends you need to know about? Here are five digital marketing shifts worth taking note of, and maybe incorporating into your 2017-18 strategy.

1. More time spent on mobile

This will come as absolutely no surprise, but the latest Mary Meeker Internet Trends 2017 report once again underlined the significant opportunity of mobile digital marketing, with research showing that despite more people spending more of their time on mobile, ad spend is still being allocated to other traditional platforms at a disproportionate rate.

So, while people are spending more time on mobile, advertisers are over-investing in print ads, for example, despite being able to reach more users via mobile devices.

This highlights the need to ensure you’re allocating your ad spend in line with your market. Where are your audience spending their time? Where are you more likely to reach them?

Conducting research to confirm such details is key to ensuring you’re maximising your marketing spend.

2. Geolocation and stories

This is a more broad trend within social media marketing, but it’s worth taking note of.

As noted in the recent Mary Meeker report, a growing number of digital platforms are putting increased focus on visual search and discovery elements built into the user experience. Included within this is the rise of stories-type content – longer, narrative-driven social media posts which enable users to share the highlights of their day or trip or whatever else they’re up to.

Through stories, people are learning to discover content in new ways – just recently, Instagram announced a new option which enables users to search public stories content by hashtag or location. This is a prime opportunity for businesses to tap into the stories trend and boost their exposure.

For example, right now, if you go to the Explore tab on Instagram (the magnifying glass icon), you’ll be able to click on a local highlights story at the top of the screen, showing all the stories in your area that have used location stickers. If you’re creating stories content, it would be of benefit to appear on that stream.

This is a simple way to move with the wider visual and stories trend, and step into the next phase of social sharing. 

3. Transactional ads

Another key, emerging trend is the development of on-platform digital experiences, which enable users to browse, discover and purchase items all without leaving their social platform or website of choice.

In recent years we’ve seen the rise of one-click buying and tap-and-go credit purchases, all of which simplify and streamline the consumer journey. In coming months, we’re going to see more on-platform options which enable users to buy products on Facebook, on Instagram, on Pinterest – all within the click of a button.

No more referring users back to your site or to another payments platform - increasingly, such processes are going to be integrated into the one system.

This is a key trend to watch, as it could revolutionise how your business is conducted.

4. Internet ad spend to exceed TV

Again, as noted in Mary Meeker’s report, in 2017, overall digital ad expenditure is set to exceed TV ad spend for the first time, further underlining the significance of the online marketing shift.

The relevance of this for your business is that it further solidifies the case for digital marketing.

There’s some speculation over whether social media and online marketing is effective, whether all those likes and follows can actually be converted into dollars, and how influential such ad options can actually be.

This finding shows that it’s not just small businesses trying out such ad options, it’s the marketing sector as a whole – all the major brands are making significant investment into digital, businesses with huge marketing teams who can’t afford to invest money for no return.

The growth of the digital marketplace shows that it is hugely relevant, highly influential, and absolutely worth your time and effort.

5. User-generated content on the rise

A final key trend worth noting is the rise of user-generated content – posts and updates submitted by your customers and shared, generally on social platforms.

Research has shown that user-generated content can produce up to 6.9x higher engagement than brand-generated content on social, while the rising use of ad blockers (27% of Australians now use ad blocking software) is also pushing many businesses to seek alternate routes to get around such measures and ensure their marketing messages are reaching the desired targets.

User-generated content is more credible, has significant share potential, and alleviates ad blocking concerns, as the content is shared through personal networks, not in traditional ad slots.

There are always transparency and permission measures you need to consider, but the data shows that user-generated content can produce great results. Worth considering in your campaigns.

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