In a recent survey, Marin Software got feedback from almost 500 decision-makers for digital marketing agencies and companies in May and June of this year. This included B2B to B2C companies’ marketers that are responsible for an annual ad spend digitally between $10-49 million (31%) and $1-9 million (69%).
The results showed that the main priority of marketers in 2019 is focused on brand awareness, next by enhancing the customer experience. Tactically, 20% of those that took the survey indicated that they are embracing omnichannel marketing and social media. Another top tactical priority was optimizing paid search, proving that it remains a key initiative for top marketers this year.
When it comes to digital ad spend, paid search is the dominant winner, with the results of the survey indicating that paid search takes up about 40% of their digital ad budgets. This number is twice as large as the next chunk of the budget – paid social is just under 20% of the budgets. The other top contenders include YouTube, display, mobile/in-app ads, Amazon e-commerce, and other e-commerce.
Respondents of the survey were asked to list their top difficulties across three different channels – search, social, and Amazon.
The top two challenges for paid search were listed as meeting both volume and efficiency goals, with 29% and 28% of their major challenges for 2019. Another listed paid search challenge of 27% was integrating product feeds.
The biggest challenge for paid social was attribution/cross-device measurement, along with generating quality creative and brand safety trailing behind.
As Amazon is basically a new player in the digital ad space, there’s no surprise that 32% of those that took the survey listed leveraging audience data (both first and third data) as the biggest difficulty with this channel. Another 30% said that understanding advertising on Amazon and knowing the techniques was fairly difficult.
A huge concern among advertisers, especially with the EU’s implementation of GDPR last May – data privacy. Respondents of the survey were told to make a list of their top-trusted publishers based on a trust index from 0-5 (0 being the least trusted and 5 being the most).
With a trust index of 4.5, Google came out on the top, with YouTube close behind with 4.3. Other publishers that are among the top-trusted are Amazon with 4.2, and Facebook and Instagram both are at 4.1. The publishers that were the least-trusted were Verizon, Pinterest, and Bing.
Marketers who took the survey stated that their top challenges or trends that impacted their business over the year were tracking restrictions, ad blocking, and data privacy, as well as video advertising. Visual search, brand safety, ad fraud, messaging apps/bots, and influencer marketing were also listed as other impactful challenges and trends.
Amazon is on the come-up in the digital ad publisher game, with a big chunk of 60% of respondents stating that their Amazon budget will be increased this year. Nearly all of the survey participants specified that this budget will be incremental and will not break apart existing ad budgets.
Amazon is seen by advertisers as a source of growth, with 18% survey participants implementing it to capture people at the beginning of the buying journey.
Amazon’s DSP platform serves display and video ads on Amazon as well as partner sites like IMDB. is the preferred format of those who participated in the survey, with 43% specifying that they currently use it. Both sponsored brand and sponsored product ads are implemented by 40% and 39% of participants.
Respondents were asked about the most popular digital marketing trends including what kind of tactics will be implemented in 2020.
A top trend of 2019 is Responsive Search Ads – a Google ad format introduced in the middle of last year, with 83% of participants specifying that they use it currently or plan to use it in the near future.
Another growing trend is shopping ad usage, with 65% of respondents stating that their shopping ad spend will enlargen this year in comparison to last year. Shoppable images and ad spend on paid spend is another big growing trend, with 50% of advertisers expecting their company’s use of these ads will heighten in 2019 compared to 2018.
These advertisers also specified that the most effective social ad format this year was video, with 32%, followed next by stories, with 23%. It is expected that there will be an increase in ad spend on social platforms throughout the rest of this year and into 2020 as well.
You can find the entire 2019 State of Digital Advertising report is available here.