Every December, hundreds of publications release what they believe to be the digital trends of the upcoming year. And every year, it's the same futuristic look at Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, and a slew of other trends that don't really seem to be accessible to brands with smaller budgets and resources. 

Well, 2018, your six-month check-up is overdue, and it's time to see how some of these trends are holding up. 

digital trends 2018: where are they now


Augmented technology has been on advertisers radars for the better part of the last decade, with promises of infiltration and opportunity for brands to capitalize on utilizing these technologies. Are these platforms conducive to businesses with smaller-budgets and limited resources? Probably not. However, that doesn't mean your brand cannot get involved with augmented technology. WARNING: #UnpopularOpinion - Leading AR lands somewhere between Snapchat and Pokémon GO. What's most impressive about these applications is the increase in user engagement since the apps each launched. Snapchat attracted 191 million daily users in the first quarter of 2018, and Pokémon GO  expected to reach 60 million active users by 2019 in the US. Impressive numbers like these mean advertisers have direct access to engaged users without having to invest in the development of advance augmented technologies. Digital apps allow advertisers to reach audiences either directly or through an Ad Exchange for display advertising. 

Custom geo-filters are incredibly easy to set up for your Grand Opening or Customer Appreciation events, but this is not advertising. You can engage your audience when they get to your location so they use the filter and share the picture with their networks; but, you cannot see those metrics, or retarget to anyone who has used the filter. Advertising on a platform like Snapchat can be incredibly expensive, so utilizing these other features for your business will allow you to engage your audience through those platforms without having to invest in the technology behind them. With gaming apps like Pokemon GO, advertisers can purchase ad space through an Ad Exchange, which then pushes your ad out to multiple apps in their network. Display advertising in-app is a great tactic for maintaining digital presence as part of your digital strategy. Display campaigns aren't known to convert users on the spot, rather they act as an assisted conversion in your digital marketing funnel.



As a connoisseur of all things digital, I get really excited about the industry actually talking about Invisible ROI. Advertisers need to come to grips with the fact that advertising will have an unknown variable when users convert. Ironically, advertisers have been fine with the vague demographics of traditional advertising targeting for YEARS; but if a digital advertising campaign can't connect every single dot clearly to the end ROI, then that method of advertising isn't working. WRONG. Entrepreneur contributor and Toronto-based badass, Scott Oldford, wrote in his article, How to Measure Your Marketing Success by Focusing on the Invisible ROI, "The problem is, you get so bogged down in these short-term metrics that you slip into short-term thinking." DING DING DING. Advertisers become so obsessed with the ability to see every metric, that they forget to look at the big picture. 

Look at your watch (or imagine you are wearing the finest Rolex). Your digital marketing strategy is on your wrist, and each link is there for a specific reason. Each link represents your tactic – be it Facebook, Google AdWords, YouTube – you have infinite options when it comes to reaching your audience. Should you choose too many of those platforms, your watch will slip right off; choose too few, and your watch won't fit. Choosing the right combination will contribute to a successful digital marketing strategy, but dissecting each little move a user makes and over-analyzing digital results will only suffocate your digital marketing and presence. When your team can focus on the big picture, the invisible ROI will start to reveal itself when you see how each component contributes to the whole. 



It's all the rage. Video has taken social platforms by storm through Facebook Live, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Snapchat. Users are creating video content that is both engaging and relevant to their audiences, but what's making it SO successful is the personalization and immediacy the viewer experiences when watching. Businesses can easily piggy-back on creating live, right-now-moments through any social platform, specifically Facebook and Snapchat that support a more real-time platforms, but content on professional networks and image sharing platforms are adopting video in creative ways. 

Instagram seems to get the silent treatment when it comes to advertising for most brands because of the low engagement rates and minimal to no conversions. However, if brands could treat Instagram as if it were a display platform rather than competing with conversion statistics from Google and Facebook, they may find more ad formats and features to engage their audience with than expected. Since adopting the Snapchat Story feature and introducing Boomerang by Instagram, the story feature is used by 250 million accounts, and the gif-style video feature accounts for 25 percent of Instagram Stories. Every brand has a personality, and social media helps brands discover their voice and attract audiences who engage with their authentic message. 

Every brand has a place in the digital landscape – it's finding your audience where they are now and most engaged. Finding your audience comes with your commitment to reaching them. While reaching your digital audience through paid efforts is most effective and direct, you still need to own your reputation management. Remember, long-term strategies are more profitable than short-term fixes. Take the time to reach your audience with engaging content about your business and industry. Building great relationships has never been the reason a business failed; those relationships have just evolved through digital means, and it's our job to ensure those audiences don't go unnoticed. 


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Whitney Antwine