5 Digital Trends to Watch for in 2020

Lindsey Pizula

By: Lindsey Pizula

Senior Strategist

With two full months under our belt, 2020 has already proven to be a tumultuous year for advertising. As new topics and technologies continue to emerge and apply across every industry, below are five eMarketer predicted trends that brands need to anticipate to be successful in the new year.

1| Facebook will be fighting for engagement as younger users move to other platforms

younger generation moving to another platform

We’ve said it before: younger-skewing Social Media platforms continue to gain popularity and steal attention away from established platforms like Facebook. Facebook has formerly struggled to entice younger users to join and remain active on the site. As new platforms like TikTok become more and more prevalent and Snapchat continues to remain popular amongst Gen-Z, Facebook needs to find new ways to relate to this rising demographic. Facebook’s 2012 purchase of Instagram has been its saving grace: eMarketer predicts Instagram will continue to see growth through 2023, and luckily for Facebook, this includes younger users.

2| 2020 Will Be a Polarizing Time on Social Media

polarization across social media

Similar to our 2019 predictions, there will be a heightened polarization across social media in 2020, especially around the U.S. election.

Following the controversy of the 2016 U.S. election and the role that social media advertising played, several platforms have announced their positions on supporting political ads. Both Twitter and TikTok surprised advertisers by banning political advertising for the 2020 election. By contrast, Facebook announced they would continue to support political ads on their platform. However, to combat the negative press they received during the 2016 election, all sponsored political ads are now subject to a revamped authorization process to ensure they all comply with Facebook’s new policies. Despite these strong positions and new policies, we expect social media will remain submerged in political content throughout the year.

Fortunately for advertisers, there are a number of different approaches brands can take. For brands that wish to remain on Facebook, we predict higher auctions bids in the marketplace due to the additional competition, this will likely result in a temporary dip in performance for the year. Opting out of social advertising during this time, however, would also limit a marketer’s ability to reach Facebook-only audiences.

3| The Inundation of Streaming Services and Video Platforms Will Present a Unique Challenge For Marketers

netflix streaming services

In our predicted trends for 2020, we discussed the ever-growing cord-cutting universe. Streaming services have developed an ad war of their own, with several large entertainment and tech companies entering the battleground. In this fragmented landscape of rivaling content providers, marketers are being challenged to find ways to reach these consumers, no matter their streaming preferences or subscriptions.

In addition to traditional Cable television, video viewers are spread out among the following:

  • Ad-free subscription services (ex: Netflix)
  • Hybrid SVOD services: tier subscriptions, where many users are willing to watch ads in order to pay a lower fee (ex: Hulu)
  • Free streaming services that include ads (ex: YouTube)
  • Social Media Videos (ex: Facebook)

In the current decentralized video landscape, many mediums require their own strategies, formats, and KPI measurement. Until there is an effective method to unify ad buying across these channels, advertisers will need to examine and prioritize which channels they should be investing in.

4| The Resurgence of Live Streaming

The Resurgence of Live Streaming

Live-streaming platforms such as Twitch.tv are starting to transition into mainstream. eSports, or live-streamed multiplayer video game competitions, have also found traction within popular culture. eMarketer predicts that in 2020, 48.2% of digital video viewers will watch live-streamed video at least once a month, with that number continuing to grow through 2023. With Facebook, YouTube, and even Amazon supporting live-stream video, advertisers must start to think about how they plan to engage with these consumers and leverage this expanding medium.

Despite live-streaming’s growth, it cannot rival the prominence of standard digital video on social media. Live-streaming offers users an authentic and engaging form of content to engage and interact with consumers, however it should not be viewed as a substitute to digital video. We recommend using live-stream as a way to authentically interact and engage with consumers, either through influencer partnerships or driving Word of Mouth with a live product release.

5| 5G Is Finally Coming to Fruition

5G Is Finally Coming to Fruition

Despite still being in its early stages, 5G technology is being adopted faster than marketers had anticipated. eMarketer predicts by the end of 2020, sales of 5G enabled devices will increase to 73.7 million (a huge jump from 9.5 million in 2019) with the primary push arriving in the second half of the year with the releases of new Android and iPhone devices.

5G’s advanced capabilities will require marketers to evolve their content. The new technology will allow consumers a better media experience, including updated performance and graphics for ads, apps, and mobile sites. 2020 will be a perfect opportunity for brands to push the boundaries of this new technology and activate inventive and memorable mobile experiences.

Be on the lookout for more coverage on these topics as we get further along into 2020!

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