By Mick Wilson

As digital marketing continues to expand and change, here are several insights into market and technology trends that will become more prevalent in 2020 and beyond.

1. Google Maps will become the ”New Search”.
In 2020, more consumer searches will originate from Google Maps. In fact, expect an increasing number of consumers to bypass Google search altogether and utilize Google apps on their phones (i.e. Google Maps) to seek answers to their queries. Additionally, consumers using Google search will see more examples of product searches returning map results. For example, searching for “AirPods” might yield Apple Store, Best Buy and Target map listings with an “in-stock” label powered by Google’s Local Inventory Ads.

2. AI will begin to think like you.
Suggestive search is on the rise as artificial intelligence (AI) technology becomes more enhanced and intuitive. Consumers will no longer need to think through the logistics of getting to work, running an errand or taking a trip; the evolving software will be one step ahead of consumers’ wants and needs.

3. Zero-click searches on the uptick.
Google’s zero-click (a.k.a. no-click) search results will continue to reduce the need for consumers to visit other web sites for information. With instant answers, Map Packs, translators, knowledge panels, calculators and definitions featured at the top of the page, Google will further confine consumers to the search engine results pages (SERP), strengthening its role as the “king of data.” Also expect to find richer top-of-page results such as instructions, recipes, how-tos, menus and more that include images, videos and other rich content.

4. The “Amazon Effect”.
If/when Amazon starts taking pages out of Google’s book, it will empower buyers and sellers to take back control over their companies’ profiles, reputation and data straight from Amazon’s site. Though once seen solely as an eCommerce site, Amazon’s recent purchase of Whole Foods Market showcases its expansion into different verticals with new capabilities. Expect these efforts to ramp up in 2020.

5. Brick-and-mortar isn’t dead yet.
Brick-and-mortar is making a comeback, but in a different way than one might expect. As a majority of brands’ revenues comes from their physical presences, they will continue to reinvent themselves to appeal to consumers’ demands for digitization and convenience. In 2020, expect brick-and-mortar stores and restaurants to downsize their physical locations and focus on experiential concepts that will leave an impact on consumers and help them stand out from the competition.

6. Ethics, privacy and public opinion will impact businesses.
Whether it’s “fake news” or cannabis-based (CBD) products, major tech platforms such as YouTube and Facebook will have to pick a side when it comes to enabling, promoting or endorsing a company, campaign or product. With the power to alter listings algorithms, increase censorship and/or promote certain products/opinions over others, these tech conglomerates will need to pay close attention to their roles in disseminating information — whether false or simply controversial — and the effects on consumers. Similarly, 2020 will see big tech companies rolling out more privacy-centred features — such as Google Maps’ new incognito mode — to limit sharing consumers’ location data with brands in an effort to protect consumers’ privacy.

Mick Wilson is vice president of customer success at Rio SEO.

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