5 Bold Digital Marketing Predictions Coming by 2020

One of the perks of my job is the opportunity to speak to various groups about marketing and technology. Without fail, I’m asked the same question every time I give a presentation: “What’s the next big thing in digital marketing?”

It’s an excellent question for many reasons. Sure, we’re curious about the future, and it’s fun to predict what happens next, but most importantly, we want to know what to prepare for.

In reality, the question is nearly impossible to answer correctly. Why? Because technology and digital marketing is constantly changing and fluctuating.  However, it’s hard to say, “no” to a good challenge.

After considering the question extensively and tapping the brains of some of our amazing team members, I have developed some highly-educated guesses. Here are five predictions that I believe will happen by the year 2020, and how you can prepare for them.

5 bold digital marketing predictions coming by 2020


1. Websites Change Depending on Who You Are

websites based on personasImagine visiting a website and experiencing content not created for just any visitor, but tailored perfectly for you.

Fully personalized websites will become a huge trend in the near future. These sites will monitor many factors, such as the visitor’s cookies, what pages he/she has visited, and how much time has been spent on these pages. This information will be used to assign a persona to the visitor behind the scenes.

If a visitor is assigned an “outdoorsman” persona, for instance, photos of hiking or backyards will be shown instead of images of office settings. Articles that highlight the outdoors will be featured and the promotions of products or services will also change based on what’s more likely to appeal to an outdoorsman. Even the copy itself could differ on every page you visit.

The reasons for personalized websites are evident. If a brand can serve you content or promotions you’re more interested in, you’ll spend time and money on the website, and likely return in the future.

It’s actually surprising that more websites haven’t made progress on this front already.  Google’s search results, your Facebook feed, and YouTube are personalized to provide a more relevant and appealing experience, so why not all the websites you visit?

There are a few websites making strides in personalization, such as Amazon and Mayo Clinic, who have been playing with this functionality for awhile now. The Blue Compass website actually has personalization capabilities built into it as well!

How Can You Prepare?

First, ensure that your company has developed a few personas that categorize your audience. It’s important to understand what types of people visit your website. What are they interested in? Why are they on your website(s)? What are their goals? Answering questions like these is invaluable in understanding your audience. Next, keep an eye out for a good content management system (CMS) that allows your website to be personalized to your audience. Budget and prepare to update your website to accommodate this functionality. It may not seem essential right now, but this is where the web is heading. Adopt this early and you will be ahead of your competitors. 

2. Stock Photos Become a Hindrance for Websites

google dislikes stock photosGoogle favors sites that deliver rich, original content. This means that nearly any web page that has copy that is a duplicate of another web page is penalized in search rankings. I predict that in the near future Google will expand this concept to images as well leaving stock photos and SEO at odds, and giving a slight search engine optimization (SEO) boost to pages that contain quality, original images.

Google has made a few statements in the past that make this a safe bet. In 2013, Google’s Head of Web Spam, Matt Cutts, said that an effect within search rankings for stock photos is, “a great suggestion for a future signal that we could look at in terms of search quality.” In its Guide to Material Design, Google directly says, “stay away from stock,” as “photographic stock and clipart is neither specific nor interpretive.”

With Google’s image algorithms becoming vastly more intelligent over the last few years, it’s not a stretch to believe that Google search will recognize not only duplicate images but quality images.

How Can You Prepare?

Start adding original photos and graphics to your website. Sure, those stock photos are convenient, but no one is really impressed by them. People can tell when a photo is unique and original, and so can Google. Adding fresh graphics and photos will provide a better user experience, and may just boost your SEO.


3. Google Delivers Only One Page for Search Engine Results

one page of Google SERPsThis is a bold statement but stick with me! When is the last time you clicked on the second, third, or 17th page of Google’s search results? If you’re like most people, it’s a rare occasion.

I have to give credit to my wife, who developed this intriguing prediction: Google will eventually stop delivering multiple search engine result pages (SERPs) and will begin providing just one page of results to users. This is more likely to roll out to mobile users (who are even less likely to click on multiple pages of search results), but could certainly be pushed to desktop users eventually.

Why would Google do this? Quite simply, it saves resources. Sure, the tech giant is a huge, wealthy company with seemingly infinite capabilities, but even Google has limits to its resources. With 3.5 billions searches a day and nearly 1.5 trillion searches each year, Google indexes and displays an extreme amount of data. Each page of search results costs Google a little more time and energy. Reducing the amount of SERPs will save Google time and money, and few users will care.

How Can You Prepare?

If Google reduces the amount of SERPs, it becomes even more crucial for your website to rank on the first page. Competition has become fierce online and your SEO will not take care of itself. You must actively monitor and enhance your SEO each month, even if it’s just for an hour or two. If you’re using Google AdWords, ensure your ad groups are in order and get your quality scores where they need to be to best prepare for even stronger competition.


4. Virtual Reality Content Marketing Is A Must

VR content marketingWait... virtual reality is just a fad and a gimmick best used in tech demos, right? Wrong. Virtual reality, or VR, is going to grow and become mainstream in the next few years.

Sound a little far fetched? It’s happening now. Your smartphone can download VR apps today that allow you to experience video in full 360 degrees. Just weeks ago, Google announced Daydream, a new mobile VR platform. Daydream is a bold move and shows the tech giant sees serious potential in VR.

Facebook is also heavily invested in VR, believing it to be the wave of the future. Two years ago, Facebook acquired Oculus VR, a leader in virtual reality technology. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, recently said of VR:

“This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.”

Clearly Facebook believes in VR, which means it will be impacting all our lives soon. Other brands like Sony, YouTube and Microsoft are also exploring the technology.

How Can You Prepare?

Begin to consider your virtual reality content strategy now. Brands that are first to employ a high-quality content marketing strategy in VR will have an advantage over their competitors. Just as you might create and post marketing videos on YouTube, creating 360 degree VR videos that inform and entertain could be an important part of content marketing soon. At Blue Compass, we’re already playing with a VR camera and running a few tests of our own.


5. Digital Advertising Spends Will Rise

digital advertising spendsMost digital advertising and marketing costs are currently a great deal. For just $50, you can reach thousands of people in your specific targeted audience on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Contrast this with the huge cost paying for TV advertising, which can cost thousands to reach a general audience that may not even be interested (and that doesn’t even count the huge mark-up your traditional agency attaches to your ad buys). From a well done Google AdWords campaign to an email newsletter blast, it’s clear that digital marketing is currently a great deal.

Times are finally changing, however. Brands don’t want to put out a generic message to everyone, but a personalized, targeted message to a relevant audience. Digital marketing allows for this specificity. With the impact and effectiveness of digital rising, plus the fact that 84 percent of millennials now say they distrust traditional advertising. I predict that digital marketing and advertising costs will rise significantly by 2020. While it’s never fun to see costs rise, marketers will continue to see a higher return on their digital marketing efforts.

How Can You Prepare?

The time to dive deep into a digital strategy is now. Don’t put it off. Jump in while costs are lower! Your brand can establish a digital marketing plan now for less money than in the future.

What are Your Predictions?

What do you think about these digital marketing predictions? Are you seeing any trends in technology that will change the way we market in the next few years? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

Looking to Prepare for 2020?

Are you or your business looking forward to the future? Blue Compass can help get you prepared. Contact us today and our dedicated team will help you get prepared for the future!


Digital Marketing, SEO

Drew Harden
Drew Harden

CEO and Co-Founder of Blue Compass, Drew Harden has grown and guided the company from a two-person startup in 2007 to one of the Midwest's leading digital marketing companies today. He's a published author, has been cited by PR News and USA Today, and has led web projects that have been honored by organizations like Adobe and American Design Awards.