At the start of the New Year, there is always speculation from prominent personalities within the industry about the ‘next big thing’ in digital for the year ahead. Sometimes, they can be bang on the money, but on other occasions, predictions made at the beginning of the year fall short of what actually happens as time plays out. Here, we take a look at changes to the digital marketing landscape so far in 2014, as well as where this leaves digital marketing at the half way point of the year.
2013 was a big year for digital marketing with a number of influential changes, such as huge growth in the use and sophistication of paid social media offerings, the growth in popularity of video as a medium, and huge developments in mobile advertising, to name but a few. At the beginning of 2014, the changes to the digital marketing landscape were expected to continue along the same trajectory as 2013, but this hasn’t necessarily been the case during the year thus far. Yes, there have been some significant changes, but whether this years’ developments will live up to the impact of last years’ still, in my humble opinion, remains to be seen so far.
The year kicked off with further changes to the social sphere in the wake of the release of Twitter’s Pay Per Click advertising platform. Although this was technically developed and trialed in late 2013 by some selected companies, it was officially rolled out to the world at the beginning of this year. Working on the same basis as Google’s Adwords platform, users bid on relevant keyword terms, as well as other demographics, to inject their ads or Tweets into the timelines of relevant would-be followers.
The next big development at the beginning of 2014 was, again, one that had been pre-empted since the end of 2013. This was Google’s move towards keyword data for organic search terms being “Not Provided”. At the time, this move had many SEOs running in fear of their careers since they had effectively lost their ability to track keywords, however, the more talented search marketing professionals have since developed different strategies to track keyword performance using alternative data. This move has followed in the footsteps of other Google changes over the past few years in shifting the focus of SEO more towards content marketing and user experience of websites, making it increasingly difficult to ‘play the system’.
Yet another change from Google came in the form of their latest algorithm change that has been dubbed ‘Google Pigeon’ by industry professionals. This algorithm was somewhat surprising and was not necessarily a move that was expected from the search engine giants. Google Pigeon serves to enhance the local search spectrum by making organic search results more tailored towards local businesses. There has been speculation that this change came on the back of the recent very public backlash from directory site Yelp against Google’s seeming preference toward their own technologies and platforms, even when search queries were seen as expressly looking for another. As this is still a relatively new update, the full effects of it upon the digital landscape still remain to be seen.
Developments in voice search technology, particularly on mobile devices, have been brought closer to consumers during the first half of 2014. With the release of Google’s “OK Google” on both their android and Nexus mobile devices, voice search has now been brought to a wider audience than just those using Apple devices, who have had the ‘Siri’ functionality for quite some time. Coupled with the launch of the Google Glass product at the beginning of the year, the use of voice search on mobile devices is set to be the next big challenge for digital professionals to adapt to. This change in the way that people interact with their devices, especially the way in which people look for information, is bound to have wider implications for the remainder of the year, and probably into 2015, and even beyond. Such a big shift in the way that devices are used has to, in my eyes at least, be considered the most significant change of 2014 so far. Although the digital landscape is ever changing, the incorporation and wider use of voice technology will see a huge change in the way that digital marketers choose to reach their audience.
Red Cow Media are a digital marketing agency based in Manchester, England. They provide online marketing strategies, with a particular focus on search marketing, to clients based, both in the UK and worldwide.