Digital Marketing Trends for Your 2019 Budget

By Emma Fitzpatrick      

Each year, digital marketing plays an increasingly dominant role in the typical marketer’s toolbox. So as you finalize your budget for 2019, you’ll want to know about the trends behind this shift.

According to the most recent Nielsen CMO Report, 82 percent of marketers plan to spend more on digital media than they did in 2018. On average, they plan on increasing their digital media budget by 49 percent.

That’s a huge bump, and the money has to come from somewhere. To make that growth happen, 44 percent plan to reduce traditional media spending. Budget for traditional channels—from radio to direct mail—will be reduced by five percent, on average. Be aware, though, that 75 percent of the largest banks in the U.S. were able to increase their marketing spend in recent years—often by double-digits—so not everyone is making cuts to traditional tactics.


What’s fueling the increased digital marketing spend? In addition to the commonplace observation that marketing has to meet consumers where they spend their time, there’s another simple answer: digital is easier to quantify. Some 74 percent of marketers are confident they can accurately measure the ROI of their digital efforts.

For traditional media, the waters are murkier. Only 59 percent of marketers express confidence that they can prove their print or TV ads are working. They know those ads are still important in the grand scheme because they help drive brand awareness, recall, and favorability. But the ROI is not as clear.

When it comes to budgeting, though, it helps to know where the other marketers are setting their priorities. So without further ado, here are the top three marketing priorities as measured by Nielsen’s 2018 CMO report—and some food for thought.

Top 3 digital marketing priorities.

  1. Social media. Seventy-nine percent of marketers think social is extremely or very important. Sixty-nine percent find it to be an extremely or very effective platform.
    Consider this:

    1. Since Facebook changed its News Feed algorithm in January of 2018, the platform has essentially become pay-to-play.
    2. Just recently, Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, began testing Promoted Stories. These would work very much as Facebook Boosts do.
    3. On Facebook-owned networks, organic reach will be harder and harder to come by in 2019. Many marketers are putting aside more money to make up for the difference by investing more in paid results (ads and boosts) on these two platforms.
    4. Unless B2B marketing is a significant part of your plan, you might get away with organic-only on LinkedIn.
    5. Because Twitter and Pinterest are smaller platforms compared to the above, organic efforts are often enough for these less crucial networks.


  1. Seventy-three percent of marketers consider search (whether organic or paid) to be extremely or very important. Sixty-nine percent find it to be an extremely or very effective platform.
    Consider this:

    1. It’s expected that by 2020, 50 percent of all searches will be done verbally. By that time, an estimated 75 percent of all households will have a smart speaker. 2019 is the year you need to make sure your content is optimized for voice search. That means answering long-tail keyword phrases, as opposed to targeting standalone keywords. Consider how you can create more content like this: How much of my paycheck should I be saving each month? What bank has a high-yield, free savings account?
    2. In the same vein, you might want to think about investing more in organic search. When you rank for organic search terms, you’ll get 20 times more results than if you invested in paid search. Yet, most businesses spend 90 percent of their search budget on paid search.


  1. Mobile: Fifty-six percent of marketers think mobile video is extremely or very important while 44 percent find mobile display to be that important. Overall, 60 percent find mobile to be an extremely or very effective platform.
    Consider this:

    1. According to the Kleiner Perkins 2018 Internet Trends report, people spend 29 percent of their media time on their mobile device, but businesses only use 26 percent of their ad budget there. That means there’s a $7 billion opportunity to bridge that gap.
    2. For the first time, more companies will spend more money on digital ads than television ads. By 2020, that number will grow. Nearly half (43 percent) of all media ad spending in the U.S. will be spent exclusively on mobile. Now is a good time to plan where your bank should be.


Emma Fitzpatrick is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and marketer, whose specialties include content marketing, social media marketing and short, snappy writing. Pick her brain at [email protected]