9 Changes That Have Shaped Digital Marketing

Digital marketing has changed so much, so quickly, that it’s difficult to see exactly how much has changed until one actually takes the time to list things out.

For Cucumber Marketing’s ninth birthday, we spent some time looking at just what happened in the past nine years. Needless to say – a lot has changed. Here are some of the most impactful changes that we’ve decided to showcase on our cake day week.

1. The Removal Of Google Right-Hand Ads

One change that greatly affected the Google AdWords market was the removal of Google ‘right-hand’ ads.

Taking place in early 2016, Google effectively took down half the ads at the top of search results and moved them to the bottom. By doing so, Google effectively forced advertisers to compete for the top 1-4 spots in order to gain any decent reach on their campaigns.

This change was the first of many to ramp up competition between Google AdWords competitors. Just earlier this year, Google decided to make ads more difficult to notice and increase competition by making ads more effective than ever.

One thing is for sure – Google is only going to increase their emphasis on ad revenue, and anysavvy digital marketer will have to adapt to increasing competition and ad standards.

2. Facebook Canvas

If you haven’t heard of Facebook Canvas, this is a feature that rolled out near the beginning of 2016.

Facebook Canvas allowed advertisers to create an integrated experience for potential customers, without needing to leave Facebook. This was one of Facebook’s first moves to enforce their share of time on their dedicated audience.

Since launching Canvas, Facebook has rolled out update after update to entice people to stay on their platform. From Facebook Stories mimicking Instagram Stories, to promoting more Facebook-based videos to replace YouTube links, Facebook is doing everything they can to keep you on their site.

Scary? Smart? Or both? You decide!

3. Google AdWords Extensions

There have been loads of additions and updates to Google AdWords extensions in the past couple of years – too many to count!

Here are some popular Google AdWords extensions.

Extensions are a huge boon to AdWords campaigns not only because they help generate a greater clickthrough rate, but because they show exactly where your customer intent is. Does your call extension pull a lot of weight for you? Does a particular site link see more action than others?

AdWords extensions are a window to understanding your customer’s online search behaviour, so of course we’d list them as one of the best (ongoing) changes to a PPC-based digital marketing campaign.

4. Remarketing

At one point in time, it was difficult to track conversions via a digital marketing campaign.

Now, not only can you directly track a sale through the digital funnel, you can also use remarketing campaigns to entice your best converters to come back again and again!

If you haven’t heard of remarketing, you should look into it. Google started adding remarketing features in 2012 – only five years ago!

Remarketing has become such an integral part of our marketing suite that it’s a wonder that this tool hasn’t been around forever.

5. Mobile Friendliness As A Ranking Feature

Does anyone else remember a time when barely any websites were mobile-friendly?

Thanks (in part) to Mobilegeddon, as well as changing consumer trends, we’re glad to see that most websites on the web are now nice and mobile-friendly.

One of our favourite Google updates to spur this change was known as “Mobilegeddon,” the change that affected the most users in terms of SEO.

Looking back, this wasn’t a big deal at all for most businesses – savvy businesses were already on the way to mobile-friendly websites – but was a huge wake-up call for businesses that were lagging behind on website changes.

Mobile-friendly web design has become the standard of website design for years. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website, you’re way behind the trend!

6. The Death of Google PageRank

The death of Google PageRank marked the end of a numbers-based game for SEO.

Gone are the days of numbers – at least, on the surface. Back when “Search Engine Optimization” was simply a game of numbers to maximize your “SEO juice” by gaining links to and from your site, Google PageRank was a numerical representation of your page’s SEO strength.

For better or for worse, the death of Google PageRank signified that Google is smarter than simply relying on hyperlinks to deem a website’s content as worthy for your audience.

7. Google Algorithm Favouring Content

As a “Part 2” to the death of Google PageRank, Google released a number of algorithm updates using machine learning to favour the content of a website over its numerical strength of link representation.

In today’s world, Google’s search algorithm favours strong content to fit a visitor’s context, instead of focusing on keywords. SEO has changed immensely in the past several years – and for the better.

Our approach at Cucumber Marketing has always been “strategy first,” relying on a strong marketing message and a logical content marketing plan to serve results on all platforms. With Google SEO favouring the actual content on a website, our “message-first” approach has helped all of our clients succeed in this digital age.

8. Changes In Consumer Behaviour

If you haven’t heard about the rise in “near me” searches, it’s a good example of how consumer behaviour has changed in the past couple of years:

As seen above, searches for “[your product/service] near me” have skyrocketed in the past couple of years due to a huge shift towards mobile smartphone usage.

While this doesn’t sound like anything new, in fact it was only 2016 when mobile searches exceeded desktop for the first time. Does that surprise you?

9. Consumer Website Expectations

As a digital marketing agency, we stay on top of website design trends. That’s what we do!

As a testament to exactly how much website design has changed in the past 9 years – just take a look at our blog post on “web design evolution” in 2014. Yikes!

Websites have changed wildly through the years, to adapt to changing consumer behaviours.

Nothing stays the same forever in digital marketing. That’s why it’s so important to have a dedicated team manage your digital marketing campaigns, in order to stay ahead of the curve. If you’re confused about any of the above, contact our marketing agency in downtown Vancouver. Ask us if you want to learn more about Google AdWords, digital marketing in general, or just want to say hi! We’re cool – and we always have chocolate 🙂