2018 Has been very much a watershed year for the major digital players.
The Facebook Kool-Aid has well and truly worn-off
A year to forget for Facebook, as it has lurched from PR crisis to PR crisis. User sentiment and trust are at an all-time low for the platform and regulators around the world are likely to intervene to varying levels in 2019. Or at least will attempt to, before getting bogged down in lengthy appeal processes and litigation.
Despite the protestations of industry commentators and major brands, marketers continue to invest heavily in the platform, something likely to continue further through 2019. Like it or loathe it, Facebook is a very good marketing channel. Moreover, one which gets better every month.
The News Feed pivot of early 2018 seems to have settled; Facebook Watch is showing real potential, Stories finally don’t suck, Marketplace is booming, Messaging is revamped for 2019, WhatsApp ads are rolling, the new Facebook Attribution whoops Google Analytics, the list goes on. All of this is without even considering the jewel in its crown, Instagram…
Let’s be clear, however. There are big problems with Facebook as a business and ones which its senior leadership appears to lack the desire or skills to manage. Take, for example, the role which it has played, according to the United Nations, in the recent genocide in Myanmar. As the noose tightens around Facebook’s neck in 2019, think the recent ACCC rulings in Australia, this pain will be passed down its supply chain to us marketers. So make hay while the sun shines, the smart marketing opps you enjoy today, may not be there forever.
Google’s McLovin it
2018’s been a great year for the other half of the digital duopoly, Google.
Search is back on top of social, regarding referral traffic. The Google Display Network is not a waste of time any more; YouTube is killing video and crushing Facebook/Instagram, while Gmail and Google Maps are reborn. To top it off, everything is coming together nicely, as one unified Google solution, rather than distinct silos like in years prior.
Google’s also managed to come away relatively unscathed on the PR front, compared to Facebook. This, despite Google being plagued by many of the same issues which confront Facebook. In fact, all digital channels, if you dig deep enough, have pretty murky practices around user data, privacy, protection and misinformation. Take LinkedIn, for example, a flagrant abuser of user privacy. Only recently has LinkedIn stopped moronic users from scraping email addresses of their connections???!??
The little’uns are coming good
2018’s Been a decent year for many of the smaller players. Twitter became profitable and has a raft of decent new features, Pinterest came back from the dead, now has ¼ billion monthly active users and will probably IPO in 2019. LinkedIn’s feed engagement is booming and is now a serious marketing player, with good ads and an ever-growing feature set. Snapchat’s had the worst year of the niche networks, with a share price in the gutter, stagnant usage and 3 – 4 months of PR pain, due to its interface redesign. That said, its marketing offering has come on a lot and is still perhaps one of the best-untapped opps locally if you want to reach users under 30.
Also, whisper it quietly, but Amazon’s coming.
What about us?
As for SMK, we’ve run more courses than ever before, taught more people than ever before and generally worked our socks off.
The Digital Excellence program we launched 14 months ago is going bananas. With new online training content launching monthly, a dedicated online support community kicking off early next year and a global rollout in the pipeline. Subject to the internet not getting switched off and everyone going back to full-page magazine ads and fax marketing.
I, like most of the team, am shattered, so I bid you adieu and look forward to seeing you on a course in 2019.
SMK Executive Director of Programming