As digital technology continues to expand and mature, digital advertising strategies are evolving to keep up. From social, to search, to big data, the opportunities for marketers today are endless.

So how do you keep up with the times? Read on for 3 trending digital marketing strategies—plus 3 more that are on the horizon—and some tips on how you can increase your marketing ROI by incorporating them into your campaigns:

1. Mobile Video Advertising

If mobile advertising is hot, then mobile video advertising is sizzling. In fact, mobile video ad spend in the United States more than doubled from 2013 to 2014—up to $1.5 billion—and is predicted to reach $6 billion by 2018, according to eMarketers. Mobile video advertising is starting to show up everywhere and the reason for this growth is simple: pair a smartphone with 4G service, and users can watch and share high-quality videos wherever they are.

Since most mobile internet usage takes place in apps, marketers are using video in apps to engage audiences between tasks (or game plays). YouTube users are already used to seeing pre-,mid-, and post-roll ads so the experience is pretty conventional. In most of these cases, the ad can only be skipped after the user watches at least a few seconds, and in some cases they can’t be skipped at all. Some ads even offer the user an incentive for watching the full ad.


In addition to mobile apps, social media networks that are not strictly mobile have made video capabilities available to users and marketers alike. While YouTube and Facebook are not strictly mobile platforms, their video ads are designed to load quickly and run smoothly on mobile devices. Facebook also offers premium video ads for businesses using their platform. In fact, when Facebook announced their video ad offering last year, it was demonstrated on a smartphone.

Facebook mobile ads

Brands are also using video ads on Snapchat and Instagram to reach their audience. Socially savvy marketers use these platforms to grow their own audiences and use video to engage them organically.

How to get started: The ideal channel to try a mobile video advertising strategy is on Facebook. It is relatively affordable and the high-quality demographic targeting allows your new video ad to reach, only—for example— males ages 18-24 who live in your area and like to play video games. Facebook is also experimenting with new, engaging formats, such as full-screen ads, which replicate an advertiser’s website by including functionality to scroll through pages of videos, as well as text and images.

Always keep in mind some best practices for strong video advertising:

  • Make it sentimental, such as funny or heart-warming, to help draw in the viewer.
  • Add a strong call-to-action. For example, recommend they visit the app store for a new download or check out your website for a special offer.
  • Make it interactive if you can. Wendy’s innovative effort with their full-screen Facebook app helps burger lovers assemble their perfect bite.



2. Native Advertising

You might not even know you’re reading native advertising until you’re deep into it. That’s because its format and writing style mirror the content of the website you’re visiting, which creates a less disruptive advertising experience. In other words, you think you’re reading a story or column, but it’s really an ad.

Most major publishers are pushing a native advertising strategy these days. You’ll find it on every platform from the trendy Buzzfeed to the elite Wall Street Journal. In fact, the venerable New York Times made a splashy launch for its native advertising division in early 2014 and recently it revealed that 20% of digital advertising revenue is attributed to this format. One of the most famous examples of successful native advertising was its campaign with Netflix for the new season of “Orange is the New Black.”

However, native advertising is not cheap. TIME, for example, requires a minimum $200,000 spend to launch a native advertising campaign. Why so spendy? It works. According to Contently, consumers tend to identify native advertising as an article, not an advertisement. What’s more, consumers who read high-quality native ads report a significantly higher level of trust for the sponsoring brand.

How to get started: This strategy can be highly effective, but you’ll have to commit some major cash to reach mainstream audiences. The best way to start “small” with native advertising is by pursuing opportunities with a trade/niche publication that might have more appealing cost structures. For example, if you’re a pet food manufacturer, consider running a native advertising campaign discussing dog nutrition on a site like if you’re targeting a B2B audience, or for pet-loving consumers.

3. Behavioral Targeting

If you’ve ever planned a trip online—booked a hotel room or scheduled a flight—and then started seeing ads for restaurants and attractions in your destination city, you’ve experienced behavioral targeting. Behavioral targeting uses web browsing and search data to better target ads toward the user’s expressed interests.

Expedia Oahu ad

For even better targeting, these insights are combined with other types of targeting, like geography and demographics, to allow advertisers to further fine-tune their messages. Behavioral targeting is a very effective way for marketers to reach their audiences when they are ready to buy.

How to get started: One of the easiest ways to use behavioral targeting is to tailor messages differently for new and repeat website visitors, or for different visitors based on how they landed on your site.

If the user has been checking out power tools for days—for example—he is probably ready to make a purchase. If you know he came to your site from a search for “cheap power tools,” you can be sure he’s price-conscious. Offering a one-time discount or free shipping might be the way to finally close a sale. If a search for “best power tools” sent him to your site, he might not be as cost-conscious and might respond better to a customer’s testimonial.

The ability to aggregate information about your customers gives you unprecedented power to present a message that will resonate with them, based on known web behavior.

What’s next?
Ready for more? Savvy marketers are always wondering what’s next. Here’s a quick look at 3 future trends for early adopters:

1. Virtual Reality (VR)
It’s no secret that virtual reality is taking off as an immersive experience. Consider the power inherent in pairing VR with native advertising. Besides providing compelling content that someone likely wants to watch, you’ve found a captive audience. A user might tap to a different app to escape mobile video advertising, but once his VR headset is on, it’s on.

For the 2014 World Cup, Coca-Cola hosted a virtual reality event that gave users the opportunity to play for the home team. The users enjoyed their experience and Coca-Cola was able to splash heavy branding throughout.

Coca Cola 1

Coca Cola 2

2. Wearables
Smartwatches and fitness trackers are just the cusp of wearable technology as shoe and clothing makers continue to developsensor-based options. Watch for advertisers to figure out how to collect the data generated and aggregate it for smart product messaging: an MMS coupon for a rejuvenating smoothie after a shirt’s wearer has completed a run or a discount on shoes after they’ve pounded the pavement for the suggested number of miles.

3. Beacons and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
Enter a chain store today and there’s a good chance it knows who you are. That’s because, as reported by Business Insider Intelligence, roughly one-third of all smartphones are compatible with BLE, the signal emitted by “beacons,” which retail stores are using to better target their clientele. One of the best-known BLE apps is Shopkick. Most consumers are familiar with its program that offers rewards, which can be redeemed for gift cards (or “kicks,” as they call them) when you visit stores—from Macy’s to Toys “R” Us



Innovative retailers are exploring new ways to use this technology, such as sending targeted offers to shoppers when they are near the store or showing off items in stock that they might have been browsing online in the past. Hanging around near a designer display? You might receive an offer, right then and there, for 20% off.

How’s Your Digital Marketing Game?
If the goal of marketing is to reach customers when and where they are ready to buy with a relevant and personal message, these emerging forms of digital advertising put that within reach. Competitive companies know that capitalizing on new forms of content and technology will help them capture new audiences on fresh playing fields.

The biggest question is always how to allocate marketing dollars for best return on investment, and the quick answer is that it varies based on your company’s objectives and target audience. Lower-tech companies might find a mobile-friendly video to be the best option for creating content quickly and easily, whereas a company with a larger budget can really move the needle with a native ad. E-commerce companies and those who aim for a smarter website can likely get the most bang for their marketing buck with behavioral targeting, which can improve conversions with a smaller investment. Whatever your objective and budget, there is a digital strategy that can help fulfill it.

So which of these trending and upcoming digital marketing strategies do you plan on implementing? Let me know in the comments below!

Published with permission from Marketo.

Image courtesy Marketo.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.