Digital marketing changes quickly and 2017 was no exception. The last year has been filled to the brim with new developments across the digital marketing world. We’re always on the lookout for new digital marketing trends. Yes, some are overhyped, but it’s our job to sort through the junk and focus on the things that will truly matter, make a difference, and propel your marketing forward. Digital marketing moves fast, and if you’re not paying attention your company could find itself way behind the curve.

By the year 2020 U.S. spending on digital advertising is projected by Statista to hit $117 billion, double the amount compared just a few short years ago. With so many new digital platforms to leverage, brands have many choices to best leverage connecting with their current and future customers.

What trends will influence how businesses spend their digital marketing dollars in 2018? We asked digital marketing professionals to share their thoughts about upcoming digital marketing trends and what to expect in 2018. Here is what they had to say:

Artificial Intelligence Getting Smarter

AI will continue to grow and become more effective in 2018. As AI gets more integrated, we expect to see more ads based on verbal queries to your device. For instance, when you tell Alexa to play Kenny Chesney, expect to start seeing Facebook ads and banner ads for his concerts, new music and merchandise. Brands will integrate consumer queries into hyper targeted ads that the consumer will not only pay attention to; they will convert. – Mary Cochran, Launching Labs Marketing

GDPR Impact on Organic Search Results

Search engines use an individual’s previous search history and click throughs as factors in determining the results shown, potentially leading to the same search query at the same moment displaying different results for different people.  Since GDPR requires explicit consent to collect and use personal data, and search engines haven’t so far asked for that consent (which can be withheld), personalised search results may change significantly or disappear in 2018. – Philippa Gamse, Websites That Win International

Content Relevancy Is King

Google appears to be placing high value on what consumers want, pertinent, applicable information. Whether publishing blog posts on a regular schedule or submitting guest posts to like minded properties it is imperative to create original, highly relevant and engaging material to entertain and inform your audience congruent with their query. Providing appealing information should increase your CTR, lower your bump rate and above all, improve your search rankings, whereas irrelevant links can produce the opposite. – Steve Morgan, Fractal Hacks

Live Video Primes Customer Interest

The biggest 2018 digital marketing trend we see is live video. Facebook, Periscope, LinkedIn, etc., are ramping up video production & sharing capabilities. People now live-record events, office workings, product demos, etc. The marketing implications are powerful. Video speaks to people on a visual level that other content types can’t. Customers can feel connected to a brand at a deeper level than ever before. Live video primes interest—which, when nurtured, can bring in huge conversions. – Chris Williams, PlanetMagpie IT Consulting

Better Use of Data

Great marketers will make better use of the data they have at their disposal (assisted by more sophisticated machine learning) to speak to their customers as individuals, applying what they know about wants, needs, and behaviors. In fact, AI and machine learning will begin to take a seat at the table, as more tactical jobs will be replaced by technology. Voice-activated devices will get smarter as people teach them new skills. – Nancy A. Shenker, the ON switch

The Rise of Pre-Targeting

As Google, Facebook, and companies like Marketing Evolution continue to gather data, predictive algorithms are becoming incredibly smart. Our ability to anticipate the needs and intent of consumers will open up new opportunities for marketers to be one-step ahead of customers. As predictive technology advances in 2018 we will move from “retargeting,” based on what consumers have seen, clicked or said, to “pre-targeting,” based on what we know customers will soon need or want, driving increased relevancy and conversion. – Jai Amin, Jellyfish

The Mobile-First Index Will Shake Up the SEO World

Google has indicated that the mobile-first index will completely roll out sometime in 2018. The digital marketing industry will work extremely quickly to ensure that their websites are optimized and competitive in the ever growing mobile search market. This rollout will likely separate “SEO optimization” strategies between desktop and mobile for good. – Sam Wheeler, Inseev Interactive

Personalize Customer Experiences

In 2018 personalizing customers experiences with branding is the key. Watch for artificial intelligence combined with human language to engage subscribers on a personal level. Businesses should think ahead on how your customers will be buying and using your products. In comes Augmented Reality (AR) where printed pages become interactive, and more personal, attaching customers to your brand location for the experience. Organic traffic is the foundation of your brand building and businesses cannot afford to ignore SEO. – Deb Lytle, YobsPro

Personal Branding over Professional Branding

People-powered branding will be one of the top digital marketing trends in 2018. Personal brands will not only allow entrepreneurs to shine, but will empower corporations as they leverage their leaders, brand influencers and industry experts to create compelling content that is human and helpful to their target markets. Organizations and entrepreneurs who voice value-rich content will create winning connections that win big results. – Lorrie Thomas Ross, Web Marketing Therapy, Inc.

Integration of Live Video

In 2017, the live video of April the Giraffe went viral with 10+ million views. It created a sense of community and provided instant gratification. In 2018, nearly every social platform will offer the ability to go “live” with ease, and consumers will have high expectations for high quantity and quality. Additionally, consumer-led streaming where viewers control the story by clicking different icons like ‘love’ or ‘dislike’ will take digital storytelling to new heights. – Rachel Dill, SWEENEY

Rise of Visual Marketing

In 2018, marketers will need to substantially increase their visual marketing skills across social media if they want to cut through the digital clutter. Creating an in-house photo/video production studio offering will be critical, specifically for agencies who want to remain competitive.  Additionally, marketers will need to be able to offer robust graphic design skills for post-production work as well as GIFs on the fly, and videos to gain attention in your feed. – Kris Ruby, Ruby Media Group

Add Value First

Digital Marketing in 2018 will be heavily driven by companies focusing on the value-add first principle. Companies who focus on continuing to serve and delight their prospects through rich content that provides value will win in 2018. This can be in the form of videos, articles, or audio experiences. Personally, I believe that audio is potentially one of the biggest opportunities in 2018 and should be explored by more companies. – Drew Hitchcock, Digital Traffic Flow

2018: The Year Influencer Marketing Grows Up

Digital marketing this year will be all about “influencers.” Brands remain flummoxed by cord-cutters, ad blockers and consumers who are hiding in plain sight. But does the YouTube baking authority really depend on Tide when it’s time to wash the aprons? Expect more big brands like Microsoft, Nordstrom and Hyundai to have their hands slapped for failing to disclose paid endorsement as the FTC becomes increasingly focused on the pay-to-play of influencer endorsement. – Eric Pinckert, BrandCulture

Hyper-Personalization and Prediction

Brands, working in conjunction with retailers, and using data science, form a much clearer picture of customers at an individual level, and position personalized, predictive offers with dynamic pricing / promotions served up across multiple channels. ROI is tracked at an individual offer level for continuous optimization of campaigns and channels. – Nikunj Sanghvi, Robosoft Technologies

Mobile Voice Searches Go Into Overdrive

With the prediction of voice searches reaching over 50% by 2020, searches are increasingly taking place on the move, from mobile devices. Users don’t stop to key in questions or to request business directions. People who have never uttered a word to their device before are now supercharging their searches via Alexa, Google, Siri or Cortana. Local businesses and brands need to be ready with content suited to relevant natural language queries and geo-location targeting. – Lynne Atkins, Rank First Media

Gonzo Digital Marketing​ in 2018

– “Say & Search”: Voice search will figure more prominently in SEO.
– “All access, all the time”: Businesses will invest in & embrace Live Chat.
– “Like politics, business is local.” Heavy spending on hyperlocal inventory ads.
– “Me, me, me.” Savvy brands will leverage micro-moment monitoring to tailor digital ads to consumers.
– “Measure twice, cut once.” Advances in measurement will help marketers create and execute better digital campaigns. – Bruce Mendelsohn, The Hired Pen