The end of social media and pixel marketing?
Decentralized social media and the rise of cookie blocking
Are we witnessing the end of social media and pixel marketing? An analysis of current trends in the digital landscape and a look at the future of marketing trends. I offer some straight-forward tips on what marketers, entrepreneurs and others can do to prepare for that future — with an emphasis on integration, personalization and decentralization.
*This article is the first part of a marketing essay I wrote. You can find my full essay on the future of digital marketing here.
‘Whoops. Over the last summer our online metrics have plummeted.’
This is not something you want to hear during a marketing team meeting. Of course, if you’re active in a market that has anything to do with GDPR legislation, you were bound to see dips in your metrics for registered website visitors and opt-in form data. And of course, if you’re in B2B like me, traffic to your website — along with anything else in your company — is traditionally slow during the summer.
However, there’s definitely something more at play here. The GDPR is but a blip in a cloud of data, that shows trends that will make pixel marketing and social media advertising — foundational aspects of most digital marketing strategies nowadays — less and less effective.
What if pixel marketing and social media marketing are indeed dying? What is the future of (online) marketing?
Of course there are still marketers and businesses out there that are seeing positive results from Google and social advertising. And I am among them. But there are some unmistakeable trends that will have an effect on our marketing effectivity, sooner or later.
Here’s what those trends are, what the future holds, and what we can do to prepare for it today.
Current trends in the digital landscape
There are three interdependent trends emerging over the last few years that all have to do with more widespread consciousness about digital personal data and what happens to it. It’s no coincidence that the GDPR aligns with these trends pretty squarely. These are the trends that will have an effect on our marketing in the next few years, like it or not;
In the West, we are witnessing an exodus from Facebook — one that could well be illustrative of a balancing wave after the last decade of very heavy use of social media.
In a recent study, 34 % of Gen Z’ers reported they are leaving social media alltogether, while another 64% are ‘taking a break’. SnapChat seems to be the only (Western) social media app that is holding on to their user base, while one study last year found that Twitter use was down 23%, Instagram use down 23% and Facebook down 8%.
Why are people ditching Facebook and co.?
The awakening: a call for more control of personal data & attention
It seems to be an undercurrent of — for lack of a better term — ‘wokeness’.
Young people are waking up to the fact that social media apps take up too much of their time, and make them sadder, across the board. Also, recent events such as the Trump-Cruz-Brexit-Facebook scandals (the Cambridge Analytica scandal), make people wary of the influence that fake and/or negative news can have on their lives.
Decentralized social media and the rise of cookie-blocking
The undercurrent of people getting wiser to pixel marketing and data harvesting & monetization by large — mainly Silicon Valley based — companies and people wanting to take control of their own online identities and data is gaining steam.
The booming of decentralized social media platforms such as Synereo (now Hyperspace) and Steemit are a testament to that. So is the rise in penetration of ad blockers we are seeing — up to 30% in the U.S. and 11% of connected devices worldwide — often also impacting the effectiveness of cookies.
Interesting in this space is the combined cookie-blocking browser Brave and its BAT blockchain network for serving ads while respecting the viewer’s identity and privacy.
This trend is a very serious problem if SEA and social advertising are or have been important parts of our marketing over the last few years.
How to get people involved and stop throwing money away?
As marketing professionals, we see the effects of this undercurrent not only in our social engagement metrics but also in the effectivity of ad programs like Google’s.
A part of this problem seems to be exacerbated by the continued problems with inflated metrics from the analytics these kinds of Ad programs offer users. At this point, it seems like we’re basically throwing money away when we invest in Google or Facebook (and Instagram) advertising — as Michael K. Spencer writes, here.
So … What to do, what to do? How are we gonna get people involved in what we do as entrepreneurs, marketers, even artists, after social media, online advertising and pixel marketing? How are we going to be able to track what works and how are we going to avoid missing leads and sales?
In the below essay, I take a look at the future of digital marketing, by looking to China’s integrated systems and the Blockchain digital world for inspiration and clues. 13 min. read, I hope it helps and would love to hear your thoughts.