Digital Marketing Trends 2019: Q4 Round-Up

As 2019 comes to an end, we hope you had a successful and profitable Q4! Despite the Black Friday and Cyber Monday madness, Google kept the updates rolling all throughout Q4. Here are a few of the biggest game changers for 2020 and our analysts insights.  

1. BERT and Google 

Google announced on December 9th, that it will be launching BERT globally in over 70 languages. BERT is a neural network-based system for language learning for computer software. Using BERT, Google will be able to serve more relevant search results, in particular for long-tail queries by teaching the AI to better understand the context of words. Bing has been using BERT since April and has already seen improvement in the relevance of search results. 

Strategist’s Thoughts: Chris Kendall 

“While Google is currently only applying BERT to organic searches, I would love to see this enter the realm of paid search in the future. This would be very useful for PLAs where advertisers have less direct control over which queries their ads will serve to. It makes sense from a business standpoint to have the best understanding of the consumer’s query intent to serve them ads for the most relevant product— which is likely to improve CTR and conversion rates.”

2) Local Campaign Updates 

Local Campaigns received a handful of updates from Google in November. These updates include more local business goals, bidding options for store visits, product catalogs on the Display Network, and Promoted Pins in Google Maps. Similar to ads in the Waze app, when a user goes to Google Maps for directions, Promoted Pins will appear. Users will then be able to add the destination as a stop along their route. Google Shopping ads also saw updates to “Buy In Store Pick Up Online” (BOPIS) features, such as  “Pick Up Today” and  “Pick Up Tomorrow” promos. 

Marketing Manager’s Thoughts: Christina DiSomma 

“Local campaign advertisers are getting a major update with the addition of product feed capability and new conversion goals. Expanding ‘buy online, pick up in store’ to include callouts like ‘pick up today’ are also going to offer these local retailers a leg up over even giants like Amazon (which primarily features 1-2 day shipping.)” 

3) Shopping Ads on Youtube 

In October, Google announced that Shopping ads can now appear in the YouTube home feed and search. Users will be shown ads based on their video searches and interests. For example, if a user is searching for mattress reviews, Shopping ads for mattresses could appear. If you are using Shopping Campaigns and would like your ads to appear on YouTube, simply opt in to YouTube on Display Network. 

Strategist’s Thoughts: Matt Kehr 

“Now that shopping ads are coming to YouTube, we as advertisers will have another tool in our arsenal for matching our products with potential customers. Say, for example, a user wants to watch reviews on the latest gaming console. They watch numerous reviews and decide that they’re sold on the new console and they’re ready to buy. Having an option to link out to retailers for the product via Shopping ads will streamline their buying journey and improve their overall experience as a consumer. I think the key here is having the right ads shown to the right users. It will be interesting to see how Google intends to match users to ads based on ‘expressing an interest’ in the product being served via advertising.”

4. Facebook and Instagram Tighten Policies 

Throughout Q4, Facebook announced several updates to improving safety and security on both Facebook and Instagram. On Instagram, any commercial posts that makes “miraculous” claims about a diet or weight-loss products will be removed. Additionally, weight loss and cosmetic surgery posts will be hidden for users under 18. Hand-in-hand with this, Facebook will be releasing a “Community Standards Enforcement Report” to announce the impact of these pursuits. 

Marketing Specialist’s Thoughts: Savannah St. John 

“As Facebook continues to lose users to more relevant platforms, they must hold on to their current user-base and continue to do damage control for their past faux pas. While these updates appear to point the company in the direction of transparency, I have to wonder if these are serious attempts to fix issues within the platforms or simply PR bandaids. I do believe, however, that changes directly affecting users, such as restricting cosmetic surgery posts to minors, will have a meaningful impact.” 

5. Buy Directly on Google Shopping 

Instead of clicking on a PLA and being directed to a retailer’s website, users can now buy products directly on Google with Google Shopping actions. With this update, Google also announced a price-tracking feature that lets users save products they are interested in, and then receive updates when the price lowers. Additionally, users will now see personalized recommendations based on shopping history and search history. 

Strategist’s Thoughts: Chris Kendall 

“The biggest takeaway from this redesign is the personalized shopping experience. As the world’s largest search engine, Google is leveraging the vast amount of search data at its disposal in hopes of luring consumers away from Amazon. This also highlights a growing need for merchants and advertisers to consider Google Shopping Actions in order to obtain better placement on Google Shopping. An important consideration is that Shopping Actions is cost-per-sale rather than the traditional cost-per-click model.”

That’s it for Q4! Have any questions about these trends could effect your company in 2020? Reach out today to speak to an analyst! 


Savannah is the Marketing Specialist at Omnitail. She has a degree in Marketing with a minor in Graphic Design from George Mason University. Her favorite part of the job is the design work she get to do, and the variety everyday brings. She’s happy to work with such an excellent team at Omnitail.

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