The year 2019 will be an incredibly exciting time in the digital marketing space and I’m going out on a limb with my predictions for the online developments which will have the biggest impact on Australia’s small to medium businesses in the next 12 months.

Followers of our Goop Digital blog will already be aware of one of the big game changers coming our way, and here it is, kicking off our 2019 predictions.

Prediction 1

Google Ads and Google Local Services Ads (LSA)

Small to medium businesses need to embrace the Google Ads and LSA offerings. Google Ads have been with us for a long time and although LSAs haven’t yet launched in Australia they can’t be far away. These two product offerings are going to play a larger and larger role in the day-to-day lives of small and medium businesses across Australia.

Google Ads for small to medium businesses

The core of Google’s revenue comes from Google Ads and, as a corporate business in a capitalist society, Google typically needs to increase sales and profits. To do this Google wants ads to be more prominent in search results and more accessible, particularly on mobile devices. Google has been a free ride for a long time but the time has come “to pay the piper”. Mark it down – 2019 will be the year small to medium businesses really start to turn to paid advertising for prominence online, with an emphasis on Google Ads.

Google Local Services Ads (LSA) for small to medium businesses

I wrote an entire blog on the topic of LSAs in November 2018 and I can’t stress enough how important it is that businesses in the categories where LSAs are available need to get on board. Already available overseas and soon to launch in Australia, this advertising format is proving to be a game changer for Google in terms of encouraging more people to click through to its advertisers.

I’m predicting Google Local Service Ads will have widespread ramifications for the likes of trade-based businesses that currently place a heavy reliance on directory and lead generation sites such as Hi Pages and One Flare. I consider this product to be the death knell of the traditional Yellow Pages.

Prediction 2

Solid PODS

“The Web as I envisaged it, we have not seen it yet. The future is still so much bigger than the past.”

Sir Tim Berners-Lee

When it comes to writing the history of the web, two people in mind stand out head and shoulders above all others from my perspective. Bill Gross – think early search engines such as GoTo which became Overture – and Tim Berners-Lee.

Bill Gross’s contribution to the World Wide Web cannot be underestimated. It was his development of Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising that would revolutionise commercialisation of the web and set off a cataclysmic disruption of traditional advertising models that continues to this day and shows no sign of abating. However my focus in this blog is on Tim Berners-Lee – sorry, that’s Sir Tim Berners-Lee following his appointment as a Knight Commander, Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II on July 16, 2004.

If the internet was to hand out sainthoods, Sir Tim would already have been canonised as an internet saint or even possibly an internet angel.

Tim invented the World Wide Web, in essence organising the web so it could link and be browsed the way it is today. He has been a Director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and has guided this international community on its altruistic path to ensuring the web achieves its full potential.

Recently, Sir Tim has dedicated himself to his Solid project. If you’d like to read in detail how the Solid project works, please visit Solid Explained. Alternatively, I will try to provide a succinct interpretation here.

Google and Facebook – amongst others – are massive data silos that control your data and have been able to capitalise from storing your data and using it to their advantage. Google and Facebook’s stored data is particularly beneficial for businesses attempting to market to individuals, and all the more reason to get involved with paid online advertising. However, while stored data is beneficial to advertising, it has come at the expense of privacy as we used to know it. (Talk to someone over the age of 55 if you don’t understand! 🙂 )

Sir Tim is fighting back against the harvesting of personal data with a concept known as Personal Data Storage Space, affectionately called PODS.  In a nutshell, you control your data in your pod and share it only with those Applications or people you choose.

Implications for online advertising

The evolution of PODS could have enormous implications for online advertisers and it will be fascinating to watch as the concept evolves. The ripple effect from PODS could be colossal, particularly for companies such as Google which generates more than US$100 billion a year from online advertising.

I don’t believe PODS will have a major impact in the short term. Rather, I think PODS will be a slow burner (pardon the pun) with massive long-term ramifications, particularly for digital marketing opportunities moving forward.

The takeaway message? Get onto paid advertising on the web while you still can.

Wishing all and sundry a Merry Christmas and a festive and prosperous New Year.

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