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Where did 2017 go? And can you believe we’re talking about 2018 already? I guess it’s never too early to plan ahead, especially in marketing. As conferences like DMEXCO 2017 revealed, topics such as influencer marketing, attribution, and data-driven advertising remain at the forefront of advertisers’ hearts and minds.

Based on current trends and industry activity, we have a few predictions on what digital marketers can expect in 2018.

1. Audiences

The quest to reach specific and precise online audiences is now a staple of any savvy marketer’s strategy. Still, the emphasis on audience targeting will kick up a notch in 2018. Digital marketers will increasingly understand that a “one size fits all” approach doesn’t cut it anymore. They’ll need to go even further to meet customer expectations of greater personalization and map ad campaigns to audience needs.

As marketers combine existing tools such as remarketing lists and lookalikes with strategies that identify the perfect rules for current and desired audiences, the coming year holds great promise. With a focus on more refined audience targeting, marketers will be able to more easily identify people interested in their products, set the right bidding rules, and create the right experience for millions of people.

2. Unified Paid Search and Social Campaigns

As we covered in our guide, Google + Facebook: A Playbook for Cross-Channel Advertising Success, in 2016, Google and Facebook represented 99% of revenue growth from digital advertising in the U.S. alone. Marketers have flocked to these channels, just as they’re chasing technologies that allow them to mine the search and social gold. In 2018, you’ll hear much about:

  • Achieving a single view of cross-channel performance
  • Driving incremental retail sales on Facebook using search intent signals
  • Refining Google and Facebook retargeting
  • Product feed optimization and cross-channel insights

With product feed optimization, the top marketers will focus on more than just bidding and budgets—they’ll extend their strategy to include successful Google Shopping campaigns. This will be the case across the board, whether it’s A/B testing to find the best product title, determining the best product groupings, or determining price competitiveness. Increasingly, those insights will fuel more dynamic and effective campaigns on Facebook.

3. Dynamic Ads

Speaking of dynamic campaigns on Facebook….

Dynamic ads are already well established for industries such as travel and retail—in 2018, other verticals will no doubt gain the benefit of feed-based ads with dynamically generated creative, driven by user intent. In fact, we predict that dynamic ads will become the norm for targeted digital marketing.

Not only will marketers focus on bridging the search and social divide—combining search intent signals with dynamic social advertising—they’ll also mesh the two channels to allow for seamless micro-targeting and creation of meaningful audience segments.

This will result in an even smoother customer experience, more conversions and incremental returns, and greater real-time audience insights. Now that’s a dynamic result!

4. Measurement Beyond Last-click Attribution

We know that up to 90% of sales still happen in-store. Next year, marketers will raise the bar on connecting digital touchpoints with offline sales and using in-store insights to inform their marketing campaigns. The attribution question of the year will be: How do my digital advertising campaigns affect offline conversions, in-store sales, and repeat trips?

Marketers increasingly want to understand the full path to conversion. Fortunately, post-impression and post-click conversion data will make this a cinch. In addition, a couple of practices will likely become the measurement norm:

  • Linear conversion to equally credit each touchpoint to conversion, versus last-click attribution
  • Automatically re-allocating budget between campaigns based on performance

The More Things Change….

If there’s one thing that won’t change in 2018, it’s the list of primary objectives for marketers: gain more customers, achieve higher revenue, and increase ROI. Along with that, we’d add the mantra, “measure, manage, optimize.” Here at Marin, we look forward to seeing what exciting developments and new challenges 2018 brings, and how marketers continue to make their mark in the digital advertising space.