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TODD SMITH — Consumer distrust drives digital marketing

TODD SMITH

Continued consumer skepticism is fueling new trends in digital marketing, and reshaping the strategies to reach an ever-evolving public with fresh ideas to boost awareness and drive brand engagement.

Here are the key drivers in our new digital world, according to Marketing Land.

1. As consumer skepticism grows, affiliates will play an even more vital role in the marketing mix.

While there are several factors fueling the recent growth, we are witnessing in the affiliate industry, one is the erosion of brand loyalty. With the internet making it easy for consumers to gather information and purchases from any brand around the globe, the idea of consumer loyalty is but a memory.

Exacerbating things is the term “Fake News” has evolved beyond the media into the business world. In fact, 63% of consumers say they trust the information they receive from influencers more than from brands, making true and accurate disclosures particularly important. And while this may be dismaying for marketers who must increasingly look outside the typical marketing mix to get the job done, for affiliates, this only signals further growth.

2. Amazon product search dominance continues to climb, despite some setbacks.

Amazon is the go-to platform for consumers looking for a specific brand of product and this will likely continue in 2020 and beyond. While headline-grabbing occurrences such as Nike deciding to leave Amazon had some thinking other big brands would follow suit, the platform has kept the brands who sell through it.

However, Amazon still faces plenty of near-term challenges that need to be addressed in 2020. It’s no secret that Amazon has a counterfeit problem — in 2018, Amazon spent $400 million fighting fraud. And while it’s one thing when counterfeit goods start diluting customer’s perceptions of the platform, it’s an entirely different situation when massive brands like Nike leave due in part to Amazon’s inability to fix the issue.

We can expect Amazon to double down on this spend and deploy more aggressive internal measures in 2020. However, so long as the company prioritizes a broad selection of products and cheaper prices over everything else, it’s a problem that will likely persist.

3. Google shopping will earn a greater share of the digital marketer’s budget 

While advertisers may be shifting more of their budgets to Amazon, Google Shopping remains one of the most important aspects of paid search management for online brands today. Recent growth trends reinforce this view; in the third quarter of 2019 Google Shopping investment rose significantly from the previous quarter, outpacing investment in ad spend. Further, according to Merkle Google Shopping generated 62% of retailers’ Google search ad clicks in the US.

In 2020, we can expect to see digital marketers investing greater time and resources into Google Shopping feed management and optimization to take advantage of the evolving platform and strike the right balance between the different search journeys consumers take on Google and Amazon. While Amazon seems to have created a moat around branded search, Google shows no sign of yielding its power for driving unbranded search queries.

4.  Marketers will seek out automated compliance at scale

When we think about automation in marketing today, we primarily think of executing marketing campaigns and how to get in front of customers in more meaningful ways at scale.

However, what is likely to happen in 2020 is the evolution of automation beyond campaign execution, into areas like compliance monitoring to ensure brands are protected online. As brands and their affiliate programs continue to grow, it becomes critical for them to adopt technologies that monitor not only compliance with partner agreements but also the consistency of the customer experience across multiple channels.

5. Online compliance and brand protection become a C-Suite matter

In today’s ultra-competitive business environment brands can’t afford to solely be reactive to potential infringements to their brand and customer experiences. Rather, they must proactively seek to protect these assets and that can only happen with increased visibility at the C-suite level. In 2019, quite a few leading brands elevating the importance of what it means to protect your brand — whether it comes to trademarks or overall brand perception and value.

Patagonia and Anheuser-Busch battled it out over potential trademark infringements. Co-founder of shoe company Allbirds approached Amazon about selling identical-looking shoes, but perhaps more importantly, called out that the e-commerce giant should also “steal our approach to sustainability.”  These brands are taking a stand to protect their missions, values, and customer experience, and you will continue to see more of this in the coming year as brand protection gains greater mindshare in the boardroom and beyond.

Social media cracks down on Coronavirus misinformation

Facebook says it will start taking down bogus claims about purported “cures” and other unproven theories surrounding the coronavirus, as the deadly outbreak continues to spread globally, sparking a surge in online chatter and misinformation.

The company will “remove content with false claims or conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations and local health authorities that could cause harm to people who believe them,” according to a blog post published by Kang-Xing Jin, Facebook’s head of health.

The company also plans to increase its fact-checking and monitoring efforts on Instagram, which it also owns. The social network wants to prioritize legitimate sources of information, Jin said, by letting select organizations run free ads that help educate people about the virus and also boosting posts that fall in line with health experts’ guidance to the top of users’ Facebook feeds. It did not specify which organizations would be included.

The move is Silicon Valley’s latest attempt to combat misinformation about the outbreak, which has infected thousands around the world and killed more than 200 in mainland China. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently declared the outbreak “a public health emergency of international concern.”

Twitter and Google have also stepped up efforts this week to guide their users to verified sources on the subject. Google announced that when people search for information about the coronavirus, it will pull up a special notice with updates from the WHO.

YouTube, which is owned by Google, said it will promote videos from credible sources when people search for clips about the virus

Silenced Mic: Jim Lehrer was iconic PBS news anchor, legendary journalist

Former PBS NewsHour anchor Jim Lehrer, who co-founded the pioneering news show the “MacNeil/Lehrer Report” in 1975 and went on to moderate more presidential debates than anyone in history, died recently, and silenced an entire era of journalism. 

Over a career that spanned 50 years, Lehrer moderated a total of 12 presidential debates, more than anyone in history, including all the ones held in 1996 and 2000. He also wrote 20 novels, three memoirs and several plays and earned dozens of journalism awards and honorary degrees. Former President Clinton bestowed the National Humanities Medal on Lehrer in 1999. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences elected him a fellow and, alongside Robert MacNeil, Lehrer was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1999.

Lehrer’s career began in Dallas. He covered John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963 for the Dallas Morning News and at the Dallas public radio station KERA. 

After he and MacNeil covered the Watergate trial, the two were paired on the “MacNeil/Lehrer Report,” which began as a half-hour news program on PBS in 1975, and then in 1983, expanded to an hour. Lehrer reported from Washington and MacNeil from New York. 

Guests included presidents, prime ministers, members of Congress and foreign leaders. From 1976 until his retirement in 2011, Lehrer interviewed nearly every presidential and vice-presidential nominee.

MacNeil retired in 1995, leaving Lehrer to launch the solo “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.” He anchored until 2009, when he reduced his appearances to once or twice a week, before retiring in 2011.

As the media business transforms on a daily basis, we will miss this journalistic anchor who made today’s journalism possible through his impactful reporting, perspectives and insight.

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» TODD SMITH is co-founder, president and chief executive officer of Deane | Smith, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm – based in Nashville, Tenn. – is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, follow him @spinsurgeon and like the ageny on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/deanesmithpartners, and join us on LinkedIn  http://www.linkedin.com/company/deane-smith-&-partners.

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