10 Brand Marketing Predictions for 2020

Phil Nottingham


As 2019 comes to a close, I wanted to share some of my predictions about the future of brand marketing to usher us into the new decade. Now, this isn’t a totally exhaustive list, but it does include the top trends and expectations that have been swirling around my mind for the last part of this year. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

1. Podcasts will become the new blogs

A large number of businesses are already investing in podcasts and seeing fantastic returns, and I expect this trend to grow in a pretty massive way in the year ahead. I even expect that many companies will treat podcasts as their primary investment in content marketing, rather than an asset to support their blog strategy.

With this strategy shift, I wanted to share some of the advantages of creating podcasts rather than blog posts:

Podcast episodes are faster to produce than blog posts

To build a foundation for a podcast episode, all you need is a decent microphone, a laptop, and 30 minutes to spare. Add in a little bit of processing and editing time, and you’re ready to go! This is considerably faster than writing a blog post, which often takes several hours, if not days, to transform an idea into a solid, engaging post. The irony of using a blog post to tell you how long it takes to write a blog post is not lost on me, but I digress.

Podcasts are easy to process into different media formats

Now, if you want to make that podcast go even further, all you need is a transcription service and a few minutes of editing time to turn a podcast into a blog post. And if you’ve set up a video camera while you were recording the podcast, boom, you’ve got a video ready to publish, too. Doing the opposite, turning a blog post into a video or podcast, however, is much more difficult. After all the hours you’ve already put into writing the post, you then have to turn that into a workable script, find audio or on-camera talent, and go through all the production steps to get it out the door.

Podcasts are very scalable

In the world of podcasts, you’ll always have opportunities to interview more guests, cover more topics, and bring on more hosts. In the blog world, it’s not always this straightforward as relevant topics for your audience can be quickly exhausted.

The podcast market isn’t oversaturated (yet)

The blog market is totally oversaturated with articles aiming to capture the low-hanging demand of Google search, and most blogs just aren’t getting the traffic they once were. With all of the new podcast platforms popping up, it’s much easier to acquire fans and have your podcasts discovered organically.

It’s worth noting, though, that I don’t think it’s beneficial to drop your blogging altogether. It’s highly likely that, just as there’s a rise in poor-quality business blogs, there will also be a huge number of poor-quality business podcasts being released into the world. I truly think there’s still a ton of value in quality writing, and just as radio hasn’t made books totally obsolete, the value of having a good blog post on your site won’t disappear.

2. A couple of big brands will completely cut their brand advertising spend

At Wistia, we believe that, despite hundreds of billions of dollars being spent on digital advertising for brand building, it’s not very effective. Some of the most innovative companies businesses, like MailChimp, have already figured this out. And over the next year, I think the penny is going to drop for some other big names, too. Where will this budget go instead? Probably on influencers, more below-the-line advertising, and of course, creative content.

“Despite hundreds of billions of dollars being spent on digital advertising for brand building, it’s not very effective”

3. The costs of direct-response advertising will go up

Google and Facebook have completely overtaken the advertising world, controlling almost all of the go-to channels for media consumption and content discovery. Plus, they’ve also taken over the marketing funnel and worked diligently to ensure the only way you can reach consumers on their platforms is through advertising. That’s less-than-ideal for us marketers.

And when you think about their business model through a basic economic lens, when supply goes down and demand goes up, prices will increase. That means businesses who’ve built their entire marketing strategies around optimizing ad spend on Google and Facebook are about to be in for an unpleasant shock.

4. We’ll see a rise of the digitally native CMO

Today, the majority of CMOs at some of the biggest companies got their start with traditional, offline advertising and marketing. But, in a digital-first world, these strategies aren’t cutting it. CMOs have to understand that creative storytelling and search engine optimization have a much bigger impact on success than the allocation of media spend. I think we’ll see a few major companies replace their existing hires with CMOs who started out in the digital world, those folks who understand how to make a business truly stand out online.

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5. Marketers will actively seek out new acquisition channels

Partially as a consequence of prediction number three (rising costs of ads), I think many marketers are going to take a stand against Google and Facebook, deeply bothered by the idea of giving these tech giants more power and control. In response, they’ll look for new acquisition channels, which may be hard to come by, but could take the form of new social channels, or a return towards owned media.

6. The influencer marketing bubble is going to burst

There’s only so many members of the Kardashian family, and the cost to secure their endorsement or the endorsement of other influencers, is astronomically expensive. Jokes aside, when you look beyond certain industries — like make-up and clothing — there’s not a whole lot of evidence to suggest that consumers buy products specifically because popular people share photos of them on Instagram. Prices can’t keep rising, and eventually, budgets are going to go elsewhere.

“When you look beyond certain industries there’s not a whole lot of evidence to suggest that consumers buy products specifically because popular people share photos of them on Instagram.”

I see influencer marketing as a bubble — one largely caused by the ineffectiveness of brand advertising. In my view, engagements between brands and influencers will undoubtedly continue, but it’ll be much more in the vein of content collaborations as opposed to just paid endorsements.

7. IGTV will receive early retirement

Unlike Instagram Stories, which I think has been a great success, I don’t foresee many people continue to actively engage with InstagramTV. The format isn’t snackable enough to serve the needs of users browsing social media (a quick dopamine hit), and hasn’t found a place alongside YouTube for longer-form content consumption.

Rather than persevere to no avail, I think Facebook will choose to close IGTV and reconsider their long-form video offering.

8. Facebook Messenger will grow as an advertising platform

Messenger ads have been around for a little while, but haven’t hugely taken off yet. With more and more conversations about brands and products happening in private groups that Facebook control, like Messenger and WhatsApp, I don’t think it’ll be long before a more sophisticated advertising offering is added to these platforms. I foresee this offering providing businesses a better way of being in the right place at the right time, and that we’ll start to see this new offering emerge in 2020.

9. A rise in the number of niche subscription media products

2019 was actually a great year for niche media. With Patreon and other services offering a way for consumers to donate small amounts to get content from journalists, content creators, and commentators, money is flooding back into the media industry in a very fragmented way.

I see this trend continuing, with publishers narrowing that focus to very specific subcultures and communities, providing regularly creative and commentary to appeal to small audiences.

10. Email marketing will see a resurgence

There’s something incredibly simple and effective about email. If you have someone’s email address, you can send things to them directly, at no cost and with no intermediary. This fact is a safeguard against all fluctuations in search and social media, which I think will start to hold even more value in an increasingly turbulent marketing environment.

The challenge for businesses will be to diligently treat email marketing as a brand channel as much as an acquisition channel. Thinking of email as a way only to nurture and convert customers will mean you lose out on its full potential as a means of communicating with non-customer advocates who are an essential part of word-of-mouth distribution.

What do you think? Anything you disagree with? Any likely big shifts I’m missing? Let us know in the comments below.

Phil Nottingham


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