10 Key Changes to the Digital Landscape in the Wake of the Virus

Sean Williams, 
Account Manager, 

2020 has been a tumultuous year indeed.

With the Covid Pandemic coming into full swing around March in 2020, this brought about many changes, some welcome, some embraced and certainly a lot of unwanted changes to everyday life.

But Businesses learn, adapt and evolve, with everyone having to be firmly locked indoors, Digital has had the spotlight primed onto it now, with it itself ever-changing as more people and businesses set sail into the sea that is the internet.

Here we list 10 key changes that have happened to the digital landscape in the wake of the virus:

1. Practicality over Empathy

The virus has caused one significant major change for the industry in the form of people not caring about brands that boast about their products. People want on-point information to help create certainty amongst all the uncertainty that was caused. The message needs to be focused on addressing consumer’s pains and needs more so now than ever.

2. More Content Being Consumed But Some Formats Are more Popular

Content will always be king but people’s attention spans are dropping, and with more and more brands fighting for this attention, it means content that is short and snappy, Webinars, Industry expert video interviews are biggest key players

3. Omni Channel Strategy is Key

One channel may work well for you, it could even be your primary platform to work on. However, it’s not nearly enough to capture and interact with your customer base. You need to now think of how you integrate channels together for one overarching strategy. For example, using Youtube to introduce your brand, Search campaign on Google and Bing to then capture those users who would actively search about your brand after hearing about it, Social campaigns to interact with them further. Consumers are 90% more likely to make a purchase once seeing your ad so keep up your brand presence.

4. More Home-Made Videos

More people are working from home, which means it’s perfectly normal to make video ads simply from the comfort of your own home now. By matching your content with the pain’s and needs of your desired audience and educating them, people will listen and not just skip after 5 seconds.

5. Integrating Online and Off-line Customers

Lockdown aside, if anything it has shown how much people want to get back onto the high street given the chance. Physical stores are not completely doomed, with some industries adapting and providing virtual tours via VR for the housing industry for example. With the advent of Offline conversion tracking as well from Google, you can now import your offline conversion data into Google ads so the system can better optimise to consumers more likely to convert.

6. Local Marketing Is Growing

A survey from Bright local showed 93% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last year, with 34% searching every day. This alone should highlight the shift into providing more localised/personalised ads to consumers. The Virus has caused a lot of damage to businesses everywhere, and even Google has been pushing users to leave a Google review on their local businesses to help promote them further, especially since 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2020 – up from 81% in 2019.

On top of just doing more focused location targeting, Google Local campaigns take this type of advertising to the next level by making a whole format around the concept, leveraging smart bidding to automatically optimise your bids, ad placements and asset combinations to create personalised dynamic ads.

7. Growth of Interactive Content

Starting to take centre stage is one of the fastest-growing trends of digital, interactive content. As we mentioned earlier, content is still king, but it can be better by now allowing your audience to take part and interact with your content, through things such as polls, games, quizzes and to be even more innovative, VR and AR (Virtual reality & Augmented reality).

For the housing market in particular where a person would normally need to go to the place to do a viewing, can now instead browse the place through VR, on their phone no less with a cardboard holder. If that was not convincing enough, now 91% of buyers are actively looking for more interactive content as it makes them feel more engaged during the process and more connected to the brand.

8. Automation through AI and Machine Learning

Ok so this is technically a trend that has been going on since 2019, but automation is here to stay and is growing. One good example is Google Ads Smart Bidding, instead of doing to the tedious work of crawling through all your keywords and manually adjusting bids, the system will now do it all for you, bidding towards several options, some of the most used listed below:

Target CPA: Set the desired CPA target and the system will attempt to generate leads/conversions for the amount stated

Maximise conversions: Instructs the system to go out and acquire as many conversions as possible

Target ROAS: Set the desired ROAS amount and the system will attempt to generate leads at the best return on your ad spend.

The beauty of smart bidding is that it doesn’t just take your keywords into account but takes many more signals when finding the right bid such as:

  • Device used
  • Location
  • Weekday and hour of time
  • Operating system
  • Browser
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Type of market the user is in and their search intent.

And many more signals. More and more users will be using this type of bidding style, so best to get to use it now and not get left behind.

9. Youtube brings out Audio Ads

Nowadays Youtube is used for much more than just simply watching a video, it’s become a platform for listening to music, podcasts, documentaries, etc. Even now while we mainly sit at home, people still use the platform for a lot more than just watching, even having the news playing in the background whilst doing something else is normal. Hence Audio ads, to reach those users who are simply using the platform for ambient listening.

Whilst the platform was in Alpha, Google themselves found that audio ads force a 75% significant lift in brand awareness on average. It may be in stark contrast to making home videos, but in a sense, making audio ads should be significantly easier for advertisers as it omits the video recording part of the process entirely.

10. The shift to a more privacy orientated Strategy

Users are more aware/alert of how their data is being used by companies today, with the term online privacy being searched 50% more globally in 2020. Matt Brittin, Presiden EMEA business & operations at Google even mentioned during an online video presentation how 79% of UK consumers are more likely to buy from a company that they feel has behaved responsibly in regards to privacy.

Google itself is now preparing to remove third party support for cookies with a bigger emphasis on firms to start collating and utilising 1st party data to help facilitate more trust with their consumers which leads to longer-lasting relationships.

 

Conclusion

There are many more events that happened over 2020, and whilst some change was inevitable, some have been accelerated further due to the virus’s unexpected arrival at the start of the year. Business offline and online will never be the same as it used to be, even post virus, some habits developed over 2020 will ultimately stick and the time is now to start changing to this new alien environment.