Between the influencer marketing explosion to the rise of “Facebook Live”, 2018 was an eventful year for digital marketers but 2019 promises to be all that and more. If there’s one word you are likely to hear digital marketers speak about enthusiastically this year, it’s authenticity.

Many of today’s hottest digital marketing trends are geared toward real, authentic online interactions with customers. These interactions are the primary impulse and driver behind trends like influencer marketing, live streaming, and native advertising. When done right, making your online marketing efforts more authentic can lead to major results. With that in mind, let’s explore some of the major trends you should look out for in 2019.

Mobile-first websites

Mobile-first websites aren’t a new phenomenon and the number of mobile users zoomed past desktop in early 2017. The trend to watch in 2019 is just how much mobile devices build on that lead and what kind of impact it has on digital marketing as a whole.

The majority of online marketing agencies in the U.S. are now offering responsive websites. However, these sites may not go far enough: too often, most designers and content marketers focus on the desktop site, losing sight of the priority that should be given to mobile users.  In 2019, we are likely to see an increasing number of digital marketers truly go mobile-first.

Voice activated search advertising

Popular voice search devices and voice assistants on mobile phones are becoming ubiquitous. Even those who were initially doubtful about their utility are starting to find that voice search is a convenient way to get quick answers to their questions. There is an evolution of voice search happening this year. People are going from asking relatively simple questions such as “How will the weather be like tomorrow?” to asking complex queries in a more natural language speech.

Given the relatively high percentage of online consumers who have used voice search on their mobile devices last year, it makes sense for digital marketers this year to adopt a more conversational tone when developing website content that better aligns with voice search.

Videos ads will grow & get shorter

Thirty seconds used to be considered a short runtime for an online video ad. With the advent of skippable ads on video sharing platforms like YouTube, however, the attention span of viewers is often as long as it takes for the timer to expire.

For example, look at some of the latest movie trailers for big upcoming blockbusters on YouTube. New trailers feature a short, 5-second snippet of the upcoming trailer. This is designed to immediately grab the viewer’s attention and entice them to watch the full trailer when used as an ad. In addition, online advertisers are expected to greatly increase their video ad budgets in 2019 since video will account for a whooping 85 percent of the entire internet traffic this year.

“Going live” aka live streaming

Expect to see more live streaming organized and managed by digital marketers in 2019 and 2020. At its best, live streaming is highly engaging content that feels far more authentic than a produced video. Marketers today are using live streaming for product demonstrations, behind-the-scenes looks and question-and-answer sessions.

Live streaming is about more than just “going live.” It’s about presenting something that isn’t as polished or finished as a video that was scripted, shot, edited and approved by the marketing director. Live streaming presents an opportunity to show that there are humans behind the brand. It’s also only one piece of the equation—influencer marketing is the other.

Influencer marketing continues to rise

In 2018, “influencer marketing” came into its own as a strategy. Hundreds of LinkedIn profiles with “Facebook Influencer” as a job title also made this newly created job field a bit of a late-night TV punchline. However, influencer marketing picked up steam for the same reason live streaming works so well: it offers human-to-human connection in a digital world that can otherwise feel isolated from authentic human experience.

What separates influencer marketing from celebrity endorsements is that that the influencer is often a far more relatable person to the target market and the advertising is not as overt. A bookshelf construction post written by a prominent DIY blogger may not directly say what companies are sponsoring her, but looking through the instructions will make it clear that she is using a specific brand of tools or equipment to put together the bookshelf. This influences readers who are planning on building the bookshelf for themselves to purchase tools made by that manufacturer, especially effective marketing since most starting “DIYers” are still acquiring power tools as they move from project-to-project.

AI-enabled marketing

Whether they recognize it as “artificial intelligence” or not, marketers have been using AI tools for years and its utility goes far beyond just chat bots. The next revolution in digital marketing is using predictive intelligence to provide customers with a more individualized, authentic experience and ultimately, to guide them to a certain outcome.

Predictive intelligence analyzes where buyers are in the sales funnel and then uses data from prior interactions with customers to make intelligent guesses as to what they may want or need next. Artificial intelligence, paired with the intuition of an experienced human marketer, will transform the way businesses interact with their customers and will enable them to provide personalized online messages.

Native advertising

Once again, authenticity is behind the push into native advertising. If website banner ads and pop ups represent the old way, native advertising offers new, more subtle avenues to getting customer attention. The trick here is that ads that don’t really superficially resemble ads. These include articles that mimic the design and style of the web content they are placed in, social media posts that blend in with the rest of the feed or video content that provides useful information without that commercial-esque voiceover.

At its best, native advertising is not interpreted by the reader, viewer, or user as advertising at all. It provides enough helpful or interesting information without being disruptive.

What the future holds

Digital marketing is evolving faster than ever. While the trends outlined above are likely to continue, there will most likely be new events, innovation, and strategy that change the shape of the industry throughout the year. Digital marketing is about to grow in new, exciting directions, and you get to be a part of that process.