Many people think of banner ads, social media, mobile messaging and SMS as broadcast mediums, when in fact, they are becoming more personalized every year. IP Zone marketing is a good example of this, where not only can display advertising follow email and direct mail campaigns, but it can also achieve a “halo effect” by targeting like-minded individuals in the same “IP zone” as the recipient. This strategy can be taken to the next level with online ad nurture campaigns, which gain sophistication through the campaign. If a certain segment is struggling to convert, they can be sent on a different path than other segments or customer “personas.” This trend overlaps with several others I see, where privacy is of utmost concern, but modern users are beginning to understand the balance in sacrificing privacy for greater security and user experience. Older generations are often not as aware of browser security preferences, and “do not track” features, so the cookie isn’t dead, but as core browsers continue to default “do not track” technology, the effectiveness of retargeting and other similar cookie-based methods may be diminished.

Social is no longer free for brands – unless your brand is “fun.” Facebook made a HUGE announcement that many brands might have missed. Users will be able to dictate the content of their news feed, rather than the algorithms Facebook has been using for the last decade. What this means, is that unless a brand consistently produces engaging content that is not push marketing, they will not be seen… unless they pay to advertise. Twitter is so fast paced, brands seldom get recognized in the constant stream of “tweets,” and Instagram and LinkedIn prioritize personal relationships over brand affiliations. The age of brands being on the same level as users is long over, and with this announcement from Facebook, it may be the nail in the coffin for free advertising. Direct marketing is more important than ever – with paid social media as an arm of the overall marketing ecosystem.