Media + PR + Analytics

2019 Media Trends Impacting Your Brand

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Nicole Etheridge

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Congratulations! 2018 was a crazy year, and you survived it: We got hammered with political ads, a lot of us were exposed to fake news, mobile exploded everywhere—and did you hear about the data issues Facebook had?

There were a lot of exciting evolutions that continue to shape the media landscape. Smart speakers made our lives easier at home. Artificial intelligence (or machine learning) continues to help us find content in new ways. GDPR is the starting point in restoring trust with consumers (even though no one really knows how it’s all going to work).

While there are only a few people who can 100 percent keep up with all the media evolution, below are some 2019 media trends and big growth areas. I’m also sharing notable insights to help brands stay ahead of the curve.

INFLUENCERS: Don’t play with Fyre.

By now everyone has heard of the epic fail called the FYRE fest. In case you haven’t seen either documentary, I’ll give you a 10 second synopsis. Billy McFarland, a very persuasive business man/con artist, used the some of the most recognizable personalities to talk about and promote a luxury lifestyle music festival in the Bahamas. However, it turned out to be a disaster (to put it lightly).

FYRE became as big as it did because of he knew exactly how to reach Millennials: via influencers.

Brands will continue to engage influencers to connect with consumers on various levels. As brands continue to invest in this area, anticipate seeing stronger and more long-term relationships to make it feel more authentic.

These longer-standing partnerships between brands and influencers will help brands maintain a consistent voice with the consumers they are trying to reach.

We can also expect to see brands taking more risks with who they partner with and what kind of content they put out in the universe in 2019.

While this can get some brands into trouble if they don’t do their research and vet influencers thoroughly, brands are hoping to better integrate with personalities that genuinely connect with their consumers.

Building stronger relationships with consumers means partnering with talent that may talk about controversial topics or drop the f-bomb or say something dumb every once in a while. What we often forget is that these people are humans too and they can even have off days.

While the influencer platform is evolving in the right direction, I’m anxious to see how some of the larger household brand names partner with influencers and how they use them within their campaigns.

I hope they create more experiential opportunities for consumer to engage in virtual and real-life events that will serve to further connect the consumer to the brand. Brands also need to allow the consumer to connect on a different level with the influencers they follow. It’s a win for the brand, the influencer and the consumer.

2019 media trends - socialSOCIAL MARKETING: Not just for piano-playing cats anymore.

On social media, one of the 2019 media trends I’m looking for is that more companies will be leaning into social to take a stand on social issues aligned with the brand and help facilitate conversations around those issues.

Notable brands that have claimed their stance on various social issues include: Nike, Patagonia, Yoplait (Mom On), Stella Artois (think Matt Damon and water) and most recently Gillette. Sure, people may not agree with their stance—and may in some cases even vow to never buy the brand again.

But here’s the thing: many consumers, especially Millennials, are increasingly seeking out brands who embrace a purpose they believe in. They will reward this brand with their wallet, their loyalty, their endorsement and even their forgiveness should the brand misstep.

An article on says, “Social impact isn’t just a fluffy armchair talking point anymore; it’s a strong purchase consideration value proposition for consumers. To differentiate in 2019 is to deliver a strong social point of view.”

It is just as important for brands to make sure that once a social centric campaign launches, they have community managers and staff on hand to help facilitate, respond and even analyze the feedback from consumers.

The one thing I hope brands don’t do is pick an issue or use social marketing as a strategy when it’s not a part of their brand DNA or corporate culture.

2019 media trends - mobileVIDEO, VIDEO, VIDEO: YouTube and beyond.

Mobile video continues to grow faster than any other digital platform. Inclusive of live streams and ad placements, mobile video is projected to reach $15.9B in 2019 with about a 23% growth according to eMarketer.

The report also said that by 2022, ad spending is estimated at $24.8B, which is reflective of overall growing mobile trends. The main driving force in the growth of mobile is the number of smartphone users, which will reach almost 190MM users in 2019 and 205MM users by 2020.

While there are many reasons for a brand to use video within their campaigns, marketers need to make sure they understand that different platforms and audiences may need separate strategies. Understanding how and why users are consuming content in certain environments will only help elevate a brand in the eyes of a user.

While mobile video continues to increase, I suspect that more brands will supplement or replace linear television with full episode player campaigns. As more “cut the cord” brands will continue to increase their investment in connected TV for the placement in premium content, targetability and trackability.

So, when you’re thinking about what assets you have for your campaign, also think about how those assets work with your channel strategy. Sometimes your TV creative will work in your digital video placements but likely will not within your social.

Make sure you’re thinking about these things when you’re in production to help ensure that you are capturing assets that will work in various channels.

2019 media trends - voice searchVOICE SEARCH: “Alexa, how do I drive search results?”

No recap of 2019 media trends would be complete without a discussion of voice search. Voice search changes the way users search for information and how brands develop content, campaigns and user experiences.

While voice search is not new — it was actually first introduced on Google in 2010 — the increased usage of connected homes and smart speakers has amplified it within the past two years.

What many don’t realize is that search inquires either typed or spoken often garner the same results.

While the results may be the same, optimizing your website for voice is different than traditional search. According to the Search Engine Journal, below are some easy steps to optimize your site for voice:

  1. Ensure your business listings are clean, consistent and accurate. According to Yext Quarterly, there is approximately $10.3 billion lost every year because a business listing is not accurate. (Don’t you think this is kind of a no-brainer?)
  2. Speed up the time it takes to load your website: This helps the UX when people on the go want results yesterday.
  3. Make sure to include conversational phrases and questions. This is how people are using the search engines and the content needs to be written this way, so your site is ranked at the top of voice search inquiries.
  4. Create an FAQ page. This is a great way to check the box of the previous step but also provide answers.

Machine learning - 2019 media trendsAI AND MACHINE LEARNING: You may already be using AI and don’t even know it.

If you are buying digital media and using data to optimize delivery, you are already using AI. If you are using paid search or social, the recommendations for budgets and performance are all coming from AI. Some of the targeting layers are also AI. While this is not anything new, suppliers are able to use AI in new ways to help inform campaign insights.

One thing that stood out from CES this year is how AI will allow brands to create ultra-custom experiences for individual users. Top manufacturers and media platforms are all using AI to help mine consumer insights and to help fuel their predictive modeling offerings. This information and tools should be used to help confirm who your current audience is but also prospect new segments.

If you’re placing digital ads, then understanding the platform and the data is just as important as the message. You should be asking your media agency questions like:

  1. What data sources are used for my campaign?
  2. How do those sources collect data?
  3. What is the KPI that is used for optimization?
  4. Based on industry benchmarks, what deliveries should I anticipate my campaign to deliver?

2019 MEDIA TRENDS: They don’t exist in a vacuum.

While this is not a comprehensive list of 2019 media trends, these trends will continue to shape the marketing landscape. As always, make sure you are discussing the importance of transparency with your associates and agencies (data, tracking, deliveries, UX, etc.).


Finally, alignment is critical. It’s important that your advertising agency is aware of all the touch-points out in the world. Both agency and client also need to be aligned on the channel plan to best reach them. Users don’t consume media in a vacuum, so your brand communications should not be planned in a vacuum.

Nicole Etheridge

Renowned expert on avoiding political ads.

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