Did you miss the Marketing Scoop Podcast last December 12? Don’t worry, I made this blog post to summarize what was discussed on this podcast so you can read what each expert defended on this Digital Marketing Battle.

Guests in this episode shared what they think was the number one digital marketing story in 2018.

David Bain and Judith Lewis reveal the latest digital trends and technologies that impact your marketing strategy. Together with industry experts, they dove into SEO, advertising and content marketing to uncover the ultimate recipe for digital marketing success.

The guests in this episode are:

The European Search Personality of 2018, International SEO Consultant, Speaker & Author and Founder of Orainti – Aleyda Solis

A writer on conversational AI and digital marketing, Senior Manager of Global Engagement at Microsoft – Purna Virji

Passionate of unicorns, he sold his last company (Wordstream) for 150 million dollars and has turned his attention to Facebook Messenger Chatbots, Founder of MobileMonkey – Larry Kim

Self-proclaimed search geek, US Search Personality of 2018, Editor of Search Engine Roundtable and News Editor at Search Engine LandBarry Schwartz

#1 Digital Marketing Story of 2018 – Aleyda

Aleyda thinks that the search impact of the mobile-first index was the most important change this year and picked it as her story of the year from an SEO perspective.

Although there were many changes and updates in SEO like the Medic Update, mobile-first is a change in the way that Google works because mobile content is taken into consideration.

Aleyda says that it hasn’t been as huge as everybody expected because they have done it in stages to avoid a negative impact on websites but it has impacted the way of doing audits, verifying rankings and overall SEO activities.

We now should prioritize mobile crawling, mobile indexing, mobile relevance, mobile searches and search behaviour along with mobile rankings.

The impact of the mobile-first indexing depends on the business, for example, in B2B where some industries have a low percentage of searches from mobile devices because of the business model or target market the impact is not as big.

For most B2C and many B2B businesses, it will mean that the users accessing their website through mobile devices will be a priority in order to have an optimized mobile website.

#1 Digital Marketing Story of 2018 – Larry

Larry chose Cambridge Analytica to be his top story of 2018, the impact on Facebook was huge and caused some questioning in the safety of our data.

Larry points out that the number of active users on Facebook in countries like Canada, Australia and the UK is in decline as well as the time spent on Facebook.

As a result of the decline in usage and time spent, ad prices (pretty important for marketers) have doubled in the last 12 months making Facebook Ads extremely difficult.

Facebook Analytics or the audience analytics capabilities for analyzing the performance of social campaigns have been totally neutered.

These are all global issues impacting marketers and individuals but the biggest impact is actually that Facebook’s posture has been put on the defensive.

In summary, Larry thinks the biggest marketing story of 2019 is the Facebook news armageddon and all the collateral damage that it has created for marketers and for the world in general.

#1 Digital Marketing Story of 2018 – Purna

Purna picked the launch of the Microsoft Audience Network because it covers all the way that search is maturing and they´re back with the AI dominance and growth in innovation.

It was announced in May and it’s a product that’s been in pilot but what it’s doing is it’s allowing advertisers to really go from this whole “keyword dominated industry” to not thinking about the customers and intent.

Now that it is powered by AI we can understand all of these different intent signals without any identifiable information.

Signals like browsing history, preferred websites and even data points from LinkedIn profiles such as industry, job function and the company you work for.

These things can be used to really target the person to reach them at the right time and the right place.

#1 Digital Marketing Story of 2018 – Barry

Barry thinks the other guests are all wrong. He argued to Larry that Facebook is a tiny player compared to Google in terms of reach people can get in general to their website.

He also said that mobile-first index was probably 2017 leaving into 2018 and it didn’t really have that much of an impact because people who were ready for it because of 2017 and all the things Google has said for the past 5-10 years around mobile they took action and also because mobile-first indexing didn’t fully roll out.

The most important thing obviously it’s Google related because Google is the most important thing out there for digital marketers.

Thinking about voice assistance, Google assistant, voice search and Google slipping into zero results are crucial because they are everywhere even into your thermostats.

Now this is where the interesting part begins, Barry began determined to start a fight because that was what David wanted to see and now Aleyda started to express herself about voice search and zero results.

Aleyda thinks that these changes are a predecessor of a conversational journey because Google said on their 20 year anniversary that at some point they want to predict the searches, to advice and recommend stuff with the assistant.

However, she agrees with Barry that it is a good story and it is the first step of a bigger paradigm but what she didn’t like about it is that a lot of people thought that everything was going to go voice and voice will kill SEO.

The searches for which Google, and any search engine, can realistically provide one answer or zero results without damaging the user experience are very limited and they can’t do this when trying to compare products or prices.

Barry said that it made people really lazy, they don’t want to read or research, they just want to be told what to do and that is the world we live in now.

Aleyda agrees with what Barry said but she also adds that she completely sees voice input replacing in a much bigger way the typing input but, for the output stage, voice can comply with only so much and visual is going to play a bigger role.

Purna added to the conversation that it is going to expand search because now we can search in more places than we could before and searches are not limited to being on desktop or mobile, you now can search while driving or cooking.

Aleyda commented regarding what Barry said about users being lazy with only one result that, as a user, it is scary and from an SEO perspective you will want to be the result displayed.

Also, this helps to expand the presence of websites, and businesses face this opportunity of more exposure.

Barry thinks that it is amazing that search is everywhere but for marketers, there is the question of how do you get your content in there.

Purna picked zero results as the most important story for 2018. When Larry was asked this question he said that all they all talked about search like if something important had happened in 2018.

Larry says that mobile-first index is no news, they have been saying that for years and argues that the zero results pages are already here with the button called “I’m feeling lucky” when you do a Google search and has been there for 20 years.

Aleyda added that there are two parts of it, realistically we can say that the influence of Facebook as a social network platform in society is a very important impact.

But, from a marketing perspective, it influenced probably only the people relying on Facebook from an organic perspective on doing social ads but points out that search plays a bigger role from a digital marketing perspective.

Aleyda and Purna both agreed on their vote to the best story by picking Barry’s.

Larry argues that there are more advertisers on Facebook than there are on Google and more Facebook pages managers than there are SEOs, but Aleyda commented that Google provides more traffic and conversions than Facebook.

Barry thinks Facebook will be around for another couple of years or so and Larry immediately says “this is classic search engine blindness, search is at the very bottom of a funnel”.

By definition, in order for search to work, people need to know what to search for in the first place and this demand happens usually not on Google.

Barry was asked what story had the biggest impact in marketing and he chose Larry’s proposal because of how much Facebook marketing has changed and what they can target.

Judith says that at the core of all the different stories, the thread that kind of runs through it is artificial intelligence and in essence, Purna wins the debate.

David asked the guests an actionable takeaway for each story.

Aleyda said that in SEO is the change in the way SEO work is done, the reporting, the analysis, the validation and the research with mobile websites.

Barry said that featured snippets and structured data are things to look at with the zero results trend.

Larry recommends following the engagement with Instagram live streams and messaging.

Purna advises marketers to look at exploring audience marketing, test it out and change your thinking from the keyword focus world to intent and relevancy.

That wraps up the complete episode of Marketing Scoop Podcast which you can see on Youtube or listen to the podcast.