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3 Major Marketing Trends to Look Out for in 2019


Invest in social causes to stand out.


6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


This year has been prophesied by many to be the best year yet for the internet and digital marketing. However, if we consider the trends, every year has been increasingly better than the other for the last few years, so these are more statements of the obvious than prophecies.

Over the last two years, we have seen some subtle shifts in customer reaction towards conventional digital marketing. For instance, the increasing use of ad blockers by many, especially millennials in the U.S., indicates that conventional ads are no longer as popular as they were in 2016.

With a little study of marketing in 2018 and of creative companies that did well for themselves last year, I have come up with a few trends that we should all expect more of in the new year. This is in no way exhaustive, but it’s worth the read.

Related: 6 Inspiring Women Changing Tech and Business This New Year

1. Return of offline marketing.

Why did digital marketing become as big as it did, as fast as it did? There are a number of reasons — the wide reach of the internet, for one, and the ability to tailor marketing efforts to specific audiences. However, it was also because it was new and everyone wanted a piece of this refreshing new innovation.  

Fast forward many years later, and it is not so new anymore. In fact, it has grown so rapidly that Shopify predicts that by 2021, global retail ecommerce sales will reach $4.5 trillion. (This is a threefold jump from $1.3 trillion in 2014). The number of people buying goods and services online has also increased significantly and is predicted to climb from the 1.46 billion in 2015 to more than 2 billion in 2020.

While this growth is great, it has also caused a significant drop in offline marketing efforts, opening a tremendous door for smart businesses. Offline marketing suddenly has become “uncommon marketing” and hence, a great way to add a personal touch in a largely screen obsessed period for customers.

One company that exemplifies this is Mainstreet ROI, a digital marketing firm, that took an uncommon step in sending printed newsletters to their customers once a month and to great effect. Their reasons are sound too, as this is a highly unexpected marketing means in a digital world and yet so personal and relevant.

It also helps that a newsletter can’t be lost with one tap of the delete button. This is not a call to start sending in newsletters in 2019, but it is a call to get creative and to look back on the very mediums we left behind in the wake of the digital transformation. Such creativity will set businesses apart in 2019.

2. The rise of socially beneficial marketing.

I published an article about a year ago on the effects of impact investment on society. At the time, social impact investing was just at its infancy stage. In the time that has passed since then, the world has gotten worse. For example, climate change has since reached a boiling point. Dr. Ken Caldeira, a lead scientist, says “Our study indicates that if emissions follow a commonly used business-as-usual scenario, there is a 93 percent chance that global warming will exceed 4C by the end of this century.” 

This is exceedingly frightful and doesn’t get better when we look at the statistics for many other issues our world is faced with. The urgency for socially minded businesses is real, and in 2019 we would expect to see many more businesses enter valuable partnerships to address some of these social causes.

Related: The New Year Is Your New Opportunity

In an earlier article, I made the point that social responsibility doubles as marketing for businesses of all sizes, and in a world that needs help, businesses that are found investing more around social causes tend to be much more visible.  

Harper Wilde is one company that exemplifies this strategy well. They sell bras and have done a great bit of work with women empowerment globally with their hilarious message slogan, “lift up the ladies,” being both a reference to their socially conscious mindset and the function of their products.

Last year was a good year for social responsibility, but I believe 2019 will be the year where it totally takes center stage. In 2019, companies that are actually directly involved in socially responsible ventures will do better than companies who just partner with socially responsible businesses. The reason is simple. We are now more aware than ever that our world is in trouble.

3. Blockchain makes its stamp on marketing.

In the last couple of years, blockchain has gotten many excited and many more worried. The new technology has caused disruptive tendencies for many industries, and marketing was not spared. Blockchain digital marketing is a term that has been thrown around in marketing spheres but rarely understood. With optimism in blockchain rising, 2019 just may be the year where it is fully understood and utilized.  

Here are a few things blockchain brings to the table that makes it so desirable going forward.

  • Utilizing blockchain in Search Engine Marketing will eliminate digital middlemen, like Facebook and Google.
  • With blockchain, website owners wouldn’t have to go through the Google Display Network to find advertisers because each “user” would already be validated and verified. The advertiser would know that they’re paying for genuine clicks, and the site owner can trust that the amount they’re being paid is fair.  
  • Blockchain brings is the new level of transparency. Everything is documented and verified. Ideally, a customer could get a “behind-the-scenes” look of a retailer’s supply chain to ascertain if they can trust its ads or marketing efforts.
  • With blockchain, the consumer’s data is purely under their control, instead of having it vulnerable on servers.

One company that has chosen to lead the way in actually making these things happen is Bezop. Blaze Ubah, CEO of Bezop, while addressing how far the company had come in their innovative bid to use blockchain to become the world’s first Amazon-like ecommerce platform, repeatedly makes the point that is the hope of all blockchain enthusiasts — that block chain can make marketing truly about the two people involved, the advertiser and the customer.

Related: Become a Blockchain Expert for Less Than $20

Taking down big wigs like Facebook, Google and even ecommerce giants like Amazon in any sphere looks a really daunting task, but with blockchain, it is looking increasingly possible and Bezop is the first of many that are on that path. Its not going to all happen in one year, but I believe the first tangible steps will be seen in 2019.

The marketing sphere is not likely to experience any large scale sweeping changes in the near future. However, these trends are likely to significantly shift focus of marketers and businesses or at least their considerations and investments. 



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Entrepreneurship

‘The People at Facebook Live in Their Own Bubble’


Early investor Roger McNamee explains his concerns about the platform’s trajectory.


5 min read


By now we all know the story of Mark Zuckerberg’s rise from his Harvard dorm room to becoming a 23-year-old billionaire. But how the past couple of years have played out, particularly the handling of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, has given Roger McNamee, an early investor in the company and former mentor of Zuckerberg, some pause.

McNamee, the founder of venture capital firm Elevation Partners and co-founder of equity firm Silver Lake Partners, penned an essay for Time Magazine about his unease and suggested solutions for how to make Facebook and other Silicon Valley players more accountable as they grow.

“My early meetings with Zuck almost always occurred in his office, generally just the two of us, so I had an incomplete picture of the man, but he was always straight with me,” McNamee recalled of his first interactions with Zuckerberg. “Zuck could not have been a better mentee. We talked about stuff that was important to Zuck, where I had useful experience. More often than not, he acted on my counsel.”

But he wrote that he began feeling concerned in the lead up to the 2016 election when he noticed a trend of content associated with Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign that came from dubious sources, and alerted Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Related: Facebook Admits That It Allowed Netflix and Spotify to Access Your Private Messages

McNamee wrote he felt “shocked and disappointed” upon learning of Facebook’s handling of user data and how the platform was used to spread misinformation during the 2016 election and Brexit vote in the U.K. “I have never had a reason to bite Facebook’s hand. Even at this writing, I still own shares in Facebook,” McNamee wrote. “My criticism of the company is a matter of principle, and owning shares is a good way to make that point.”

From his activist investor perspective, McNamee wrote that Facebook’s business M.O. for the past several years has focused on growth hacking — measuring how users reacted and interacted with all aspects of the social platform, down to small changes in how the site looked.

“Every action a user took gave Facebook a better understanding of that user — and of that user’s friends — enabling the company to make tiny ‘improvements’ in the user experience every day, which is to say it got better at manipulating the attention of users,” McNamee explained. “Any advertiser could buy access to that attention. The Russians took full advantage. If civic responsibility ever came up in Facebook’s internal conversations, I can see no evidence of it.”

McNamee also had a critical assessment of Facebook’s ethos and mission.

“The people at Facebook live in their own bubble. Zuck has always believed that connecting everyone on Earth was a mission so important that it justified any action necessary to accomplish it,” McNamee wrote. “Convinced of the nobility of their mission, Zuck and his employees seem to listen to criticism without changing their behavior. They respond to nearly every problem with the same approach that created the problem in the first place: more AI, more code, more short-term fixes. They do not do this because they are bad people. They do this because success has warped their perception of reality. They cannot imagine that the recent problems could be in any way linked to their designs or business decisions.”

Related: Facebook’s Crisis Response Included Sneaky Redirections, New York Times Reports

McNamee also cast a reproving eye to the company’s crisis management strategy: “When confronted with evidence that disinformation and fake news had spread over Facebook and may have influenced a British referendum or an election in the U.S., Facebook followed a playbook it had run since its founding: deny, delay, deflect, dissemble. Facebook only came clean when forced to, and revealed as little information as possible. Then it went to Plan B: apologize, and promise to do better.”

When Time asked the company for comment, Facebook shared a lengthy post from Sheryl Sandberg written in late December 2018 detailing what the company is doing to address many of the concerns that McNamee and others have raised in recent months.

This isn’t the first time that McNamee has voiced his concerns publicly. Prior to the Time cover, he wrote op-eds for USA Today and The Washington Post and spoke to Quartz about the need for more regulation and transparency in this space.

When Zuckerberg wrote his 2019 New Year’s resolution, he said that his goal was to “host a series of public discussions about the future of technology in society — the opportunities, the challenges, the hopes, and the anxieties.” One has to wonder whether it’s crossed his mind to bring McNamee and other critics to the stage as someone who could speak on both the past and future.



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