Digital Trends in Advertising: What’s changing and how business owners can benefit

It’s not 2001 anymore — and with marketing methods changing rapidly, forward-thinking business owners need to understand innovations and patterns that present new opportunities. With the first half of 2017 already in the books, it’s a good time to review lessons learned and consider what’s needed to help your company stand out in the digital future.

From the evolving expectation of instant communications to the needs of cord-never Millennials, Dana Kerigan, principal and media guru at Kerigan Marketing Associates, shares her top five trends impacting advertising based on her work with over 100 Bay County and regional businesses.

1. Words Are Overrated: The Year When Images and Videos Rule

Videos have surged over the past year, particularly with Millennials and their rising Generation Z cohorts, which have embraced pictures and videos as a way to gather and share information. While Baby Boomers “Google it” and read about how to do something, Millennials (currently aged 21-37) start their search with YouTube for a visual how-to. Why’s that important? Millennials surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation, according to population estimates released in 2016 by the U.S. Census Bureau. YouTube is now the second largest search engine, behind Google (btw, Google owns YouTube). Businesses that don’t think they can afford TV advertising [and even those that can] should consider connecting with consumers by placing spots on YouTube.

2. The New Front Door: Your Most Important Store

A joint study between the National Association of Realtors and Google concluded that over 90% of real estate searchers relied heavily on websites during the home buying process. In 2016, 55% of people in the U.S. started their online shopping trips on Amazon.com. And, recently, retail giant Unilever spent a reported $1 billion to snap up five-year-old Dollar Shave Club.

But given this obvious trend, many small businesses still have a set-it-and-forget-it mentality for their websites. While they would never ignore a prospect who walked into their door, that’s exactly what they might be doing at the location delivering their first impression. Brick and mortar sales remain as relevant as ever, but the online-to-onsite connection is accelerating.  Recommendation: Get Google Analytics on your website. It’s a free tool for measuring traffic and trends including number of visitors each day, how long they stay on your site and your most popular pages. Then, audit your website to determine if improvements need to be made. HubSpot’s free tool, www.websitegrader.com is an easy way to insert your website name and get a quick website score.

3. Mobile-First.

After years of “mobile-first” monikers, smart phones have now firmly solidified their position as our go-to device where we start our search. During recent research for an Alabama college client we learned that over 51% of their searches originated on a mobile device–up 25% from the previous year. As mobile devices take over photography, replace alarm clocks, and provide on-the-go access to our email, social media platforms and even audio books, they’ve transformed how we communicate and share information.

Make sure your website is mobile-friendly; and just because you can get to it on a smart phone doesn’t mean it is. Use the free websitegrader.com tool for a mobile friendly score on your website. And, consider how your website looks on your smartphone screen. Maybe it’s time to reorganize important information.

4. An Expectation of Instant: The Need for Speed

Today’s consumers want it now, and expect to get it. Modern devices have fueled this craving for instantaneous fulfillment. A 2015 Google survey reported that 40% of us will abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load; and that percentage is growing at an exponential rate. Mobile pages with a one second shorter load time saw conversion rates increase by 27%.

Don’t expect consumers to be patient. When’s the last time you looked beyond the first page of Google. When you did find a phone number or link, and didn’t get a connection, chances are you moved on to another business. When someone is ready to buy, make the process easy. Make sure your online listings are accurate; you likely have dozens from Yelp to Google, YP.com, Facebook and more. Consumers don’t want to arrive at a listing only to dial an incorrect phone number or find the website link missing. An online audit of your referral listings, and repair of links, can deliver significant increases in your website traffic.

5. Because You Build It: Doesn’t Mean They’ll Come

You can build the best website in the world, then wait for them to come. Or, you can prime the pump to quicken the pace. Remember the good ole 4 P’s from basic business classes—Product, Place, Price, Promotion? Turns out the last one is important, at least in many cases. Here’s a quick primer on organic traffic vs. paid search.

Organic traffic includes all visits where a searcher got to your website by virtue of its page ranking and key words—basically how well its built with optimization techniques, like mobile-friendly formatting, and updated content. Think of paid search as jumping to the front of the line to position your website’s listing above others. Key techniques include pay-per-click Google AdWords where you only pay when someone click to your website. Budgets can be capped at any level. With online banner ads you pay per impression. Think of these as mini-billboards in the digital space. Costs range roughly between $12-18 per thousand, and this category includes video such as YouTube and HULU, and digital radio such as Pandora and Spotify.


Dana Kerigan is a Certified Purchasing Manager (C.P.M.) and serves as KMA’s in-house media buyer where she helps clients achieve their goals through the traditional media including local radio, print, broadcast and cable TV, along with digital advertising channels such as YELP advertising, Google AdWords, YouTube, Pandora and more. Follow her blog or learn more at www.kerigan.com/dana.