Digital Marketing

2021 Wrapped: Top Digital Marketing News of the Past Year

The end of the year is the appropriate season to reflect on the top digital marketing news. 

Looking back to the year that was, you get to have a clear picture of how the industry is evolving. Allowing you, in turn, to look forward to and prepare for the year ahead with a proper baseline for where it’s heading.

This is something we intentionally do as a forward-looking digital marketing agency, and so have compiled the most noteworthy digital marketing news of 2021. All with the aim of informing your marketing strategies for the year ahead.

Top digital marketing news for 2021

Now, we know you’re expecting quite a lengthy list. Because, as always, the digital marketing landscape is one that is rapidly changing.

If there’s a specific niche in digital marketing you’d like to zoom into, feel free to jump to them with the help of the list below:

Social Media Marketing News

In the latest 2021 statistics, about 4.48 billion people are using social media platforms globally. This figure is more than double from the 2.07 billion recorded in 2015. And, as of Datareportal’s annual state of digital report, the Philippines once again tops the lists for highest social media usage rate in the world.

This huge user base presents a lot of opportunities for reaching new audiences and engaging existing customers. Thus, it’s important to know all the latest trends and top marketing news on different social media platforms.

Facebook Rebrands to Meta

On October 28, 2021, Facebook introduced Meta – their new brand name that ties all the company’s apps and technologies together. In the social media giant’s press release, they explained a redefined focus, which was to “bring the metaverse to life and help people connect, find communities and grow businesses.”

The metaverse, according to Facebook, will be a “hybrid of online social experiences –  expanding into the three dimensionsional or physical world.” Put simply, it allows users to do what they normally do in the physical world in the digital realm. 

Preview of Facebook Meta

Screenshot from Facebook’s Keynote

Although a major step towards launching a whole new world for social media, some have criticized the rebrand as a way to deflect attention from the recent controversies stemming from the Facebook Papers.

Why you should care 

Although we don’t know yet when exactly the rollout of Facebook’s metaverse will be, we expect that it’s not that far into the future. 

After all, the social media giant already has Reality Labs, a division dedicated to harnessing virtual and augmented reality, as well as the Oculus VR technology. Given this, it’s important to not only care about this emerging tech-cultural revolution, but also master it as early as now. 

Your goal is to find ways to let consumers experience products and services in an immersive, virtual world. Start familiarizing yourself with metaverse marketing. Experiment on different approaches in telling your brand story in 3D.

Twitter Launches Live-stream Shopping

Social media platforms promoting ecommerce activities – or, simply put, social commerce – were one of the top digital marketing trends of 2021. Twitter was the latest network to join the trend by introducing a livestream shopping feature in November in partnership with Walmart. 

As shown in the photo below, the platform’s live shopping interface features a video broadcast, a Shoppable Banner, a Shop Tab, and a tweet section. Using the Shoppable Banner and Shop Tab, you can show off your products in a seamless manner.

Twitter live shopping

Photo courtesy of Twitter

Why you should care 

Beyond shopping-oriented livestreams, we’ll see more social commerce activities moving forward. Tech companies are attracting more retail businesses, as the industry adopts a more digital approach. 

By maximizing social commerce, you can take advantage of a wide pool of potential customers, provide a seamless transaction for buyers, and boost your search engine rankings. Explore different tools, such as Facebook Marketplace and Instagram Shopping to reap these benefits. Take note of these revenue-boosting social commerce tips.

Instagram Lets Users Upload Photos and Videos from Desktop

Back in June, TechCrunch reported that a number of users were able to post content on Instagram via desktop. Increased usage of the platform on desktops during the pandemic prompted the update, according to Instagram.

To upload content from your computer, go to Instagram in your browser and find the plus icon located on the top right. Aside from allowing posts from desktop, you can schedule your content using this feature.

Why you should care 

This is one of the most anticipated digital marketing news of 2021, especially among social media managers. 

If you’ve been handling Instagram pages for quite some time, you know the struggle of going back and forth between your phone and laptop when uploading content. But with this update, you can do everything in one place. 

There’s no need to save images on your phone just to put it up on the platform. For easier content management, you can even schedule posts.

Search Engine and Content Marketing News

To better serve searchers, Google is always coming up with something new that often rocks the search industry. 

A recent case is Google’s rollouts of major updates in 2021 that can spell success or disaster for your search engine marketing efforts. 

To maintain your search positions and performance, it’s critical to keep abreast with these developments.

Google’s Multitask Unified Model Algorithm Update

Last May 18, 2021, Google launched a new technology called Multitask Unified Model (MUM). This algorithm provides answers to complex queries by evaluating information across different languages and content, including texts, queries, video, and audio.

The update hopes to provide a shorter customer journey in instances where they have to input multiple queries for a topic. Scenarios where,  Google reports, users make an average of eight queries to get answers for complex tasks. 

MUM reduces this number by serving a comprehensive range of answers for just one query. It uses the T5 text-to-text framework – a type of transfer learning method.

Google MUM Demo

Image courtesy of Google

MUM is also trained across different languages, so it can interpret queries from specific contexts. At the same time, it’s multi-modal, meaning it can evaluate various kinds of information served in different formats including images, and video and audio. 

In other words, this AI-powered search will be like getting answers for complex queries from a human expert.

Why should you care 

Google’s MUM algorithm carries various implications, including stronger competition. 

Since it seeks to remove language barriers, your content will be competing with virtually any relevant content from anywhere in the world. But, at the same time, you can harness this to your advantage. 

By incorporating multilingual Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in your strategy and reflecting in your content how your customers talk, you can make your brand visible to your ideal audience.

Another potential implication of Google’s MUM algorithm is less dominance of the written content. But it also presents the opportunity to diversify the formats in which you package your content. With MUM, you are encouraged to try formats you’ve never explored before, allowing you to cast a wider net and target related queries. 

As early as now, you must have visual and audio media as part of your SEO strategy.

According to Google, the search query “news near me” has increased three times in the past five years, worldwide.

For this reason, the Google rolled out a number of new product features for local news:

  • Local news stories carousel. This features local news coverage relevant to the user’s query. 
  • Top Stories. The improved system displays authoritative, relevant local news sources alongside national publications. 
  • Narrower local subtopics. The search engine pulls up local news stories that go beyond broad areas, serving up narrower subtopics. This is made possible by location signals. 
  • News from social media. The search engine displays social media posts from authoritative news outlets and journalists, including tweets.
Google Local News Search Demo

Image courtesy of Google

Why you should care

If you’re working for a news organization, applying SEO techniques should form part of your strategy for online visibility. By showing up in relevant local searches, you get to deliver the information to readers who need it as quickly as possible.

Stick to the principles Google earlier advised: prioritize EAT (expertise, authority, and trustworthiness), produce original news-related content regularly, and make sure to comply with the search engine’s guidelines for news.

Digital Advertising News

According to Statista, 2021 will conclude with ad spending on digital platforms reaching around USD 466 million. This figure is also expected to increase steadily in the next few years. 

Below are developments in digital advertising that can inform your strategies for ensuring you get a slice of that big pie.

Facebook Removes Certain Ad Targeting Options

Last November 9, 2021, the social media giant announced that they’re pulling out the Detailed Targeting options for the reason that these can potentially be problematic and sensitive. These target referencing options include causes, organizations, and public figures that relate to health, race or ethnicity, political affiliation, religion, or sexual orientation. 

The move, according to Facebook, was to “match people’s evolving expectations of how advertisers may reach [their audience].” Moreover, it aims to respond to the call from civil rights experts, policymakers, and stakeholders to keep advertisers from abusing targeting options. The Facebook ad update will be implemented on January 19, 2022.

Facebook targeting options

Photo courtesy of Business of Apps

Why you should care 

While the removal of certain ad targeting options may present some restrictions, the move is a positive development towards making the platform a safer space for social media users. In the long run, it benefits advertisers too, as users stay on the platform. Besides, more often than not, some brands rarely use such specific and sensitive targeting options for ads.

It’s also worth noting that other effective ad targeting schemes are still in place. For instance, the Custom Audiences will let you target people who have liked your page or watched your videos. These people have already expressed interest in what you’re offering, so they’ll likely be more receptive to your sponsored messages. 

You may also use Lookalike Audiences to reach people who don’t necessarily know about your brand, but share similarities with your currently engaged audience.

Apple Includes Ad Limitations on iOS 14 Security Update

This is one of the biggest digital marketing news of 2021 as it has far-reaching effects for advertisers. Apple announced that its iOS 14 update will allow users to opt out of any in-app data collection in apps, such as Facebook and Instagram. 

The users can block the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), as the mobile operating system conceals personal info. Under Apple’s AppTrackingTransparency framework, all publishers in the AppStore are required to prompt users with an opt-in for tracking permissions.

Apple iOS 14 security prompt message

Photo courtesy of Apple

The reason behind the move is that Apple wanted to give their customers control over This opt-out from data collection and sharing will be applied to succeeding system versions.

Why you should care

As the iOS 14 update affects data tracking permissions, it ultimately impacts the success of your ad campaigns on different social platforms, including Facebook and TikTok. The thing is, when consumers are asked if they want their online activities to be tracked, there’s a good chance many will refuse. 

Ultimately, your targeting capabilities and the amount of relevant data collected are reduced. Your ad spend may be less effective. It might even become more expensive. 

Thus, it’s important to be mindful of this limitation when crafting strategies. Refer to this guide for actionable approaches you can take as a marketer.

Web Development and Technical SEO News

A fully optimized website plays a big role in attracting high-quality web traffic and gaining conversions online. 

In terms of web and technical search engine optimizations, keep mindful note of these digital marketing news as you plan your next move.

Google Introduces New Version of PageSpeed Insights

To give the user interface a new look, the search engine giant announced that it’s implementing the following updates to PageSpeed Insights (PSI):

  • Clear separation of field and lab data. The two sections are now distinctly separate. The labels have a text that shows what the data means and how it can help. 
  • Core Web Vitals assessment. Previously, CWV assessment was displayed as “passed” or “failed.” In the updated interface, it has a separate subsection with its own icon. 
  • Labels for mobile and desktop performance. The navigation menu at the top includes links for mobile and desktop on the report page.
  • Origin Summary. This report section is in a new tab called Origin under the Field Data section. 
  • Expand View. The new feature allows users to see details of the CWV metrics. 
  • Page image. The image of the loaded image, which is next to the field data, has been removed. It’s in the lab data section now, showing the loading sequence. 

Photo courtesy of Google

 

Why you should care

These updates should be important to you if you want to improve your Page Experience and Core Web Vitals scores. 

​​RELATED READ: A Complete Core Web Vitals Checklist to Improve Your Website This 2022

Remember: Speed is an important Google ranking factor. It’s a crucial ingredient in increasing your visibility and conversion potential online. Use PSI to identify and address website issues.

WordPress 5.9 Release Postponed to Early Next Year

This is perhaps one of the biggest marketing industry news this 2021. WordPress announced this year that they’re pushing back the release of WordPress 5.9 to January 25, 2022

Issues on major features to be included in the release were the reason for the delay, mainly on Full Site Editing (FSE) and the Twenty Twenty-Two (TT2) theme, which depends on FSE.

Why you should care

The upcoming version is highly anticipated because of the FSE feature. It allows you to control both the page content and global pieces of the website at the same time, making WordPress easier to use through a visual interface. This can significantly help in your web development efforts moving forward.

Key takeaways

2021 was an eventful year for the digital marketing industry. The best way to move forward is to learn from the past. As we welcome another year, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Explore innovative technologies. Artificial intelligence and virtual reality aren’t new, but they are set to become the next normal in the coming years, with Facebook metaverse and Google’s MUM algorithm taking off. As early as now, you should be mastering these technologies to stay ahead of the trends and the competition.
  • Master other types of content. Videos will be more in demand, and in the process, become more immersive. Podcasts will likewise solidify its popularity. Go beyond written content. Use these types of media in your marketing and advertising efforts, especially as targeting options become limited.
  • Maximize the tools available. Every now and then, online platforms will have updates on their features. Exhaust the possibilities of these tools to streamline campaigns.

What are the top digital marketing news on your list? Talk to us via our social media accounts, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Get the latest digital marketing news and trends by subscribing to our newsletter.

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