Digital marketing is a dynamic, perpetually evolving field. To find success, professionals working within it must keep up with the changing trends and potential risks that might impact their efforts from year to year—and sometimes, even month to month.
In such a fast-paced industry, staying cognizant of pitfalls to be avoided can help digital marketers devise more effective strategies and forge stronger, more trusting relationships with stakeholders and clients. Below, 14 members of Forbes Agency Council share the biggest risks digital marketers face at this time, along with ways to prepare for them and avert unnecessary issues.
1. AI Hype
If we let ourselves get caught up in the hype, we risk replacing too much of our marketing efforts with artificial intelligence. AI is a tool, not a replacement for marketers altogether. Don’t lose sight of how the human touch and creativity are integral to a strong customer experience—AI can help brands make great strides in scalability and 24/7 responsiveness, but it must be overseen by human marketing teams. – Matt Ramerman, Sinch for Marketing
2. Signal Loss
Signal loss poses significant challenges for marketers, impairing lookalike modeling, audience targeting and performance reporting. Brands are experiencing lower return on ad spend and higher customer acquisition costs while struggling to scale. Agencies can help clients identify alternative digital prospecting strategies, such as activating offline lookalike models across digital channels, for high-quality, scalable campaigns. – Erik Koenig, SeQuel Response
3. Complex Attribution Tracking
Attribution tracking, or accurately assigning credit for conversions within the customer journey, presents a significant risk in digital marketing. With customers interacting with an increasing number of platforms, channels and devices, correctly determining what led to conversion has become very complex. Misattributed credit can lead to inefficient budgets and misjudged campaign performance. – Krishan Arora, The Arora Project
In digital marketing, you can never stop learning, and this is more important now than ever. We live in a quickly changing age filled with technological advances. We won’t be replaced by AI tools and large language models themselves, but we will be replaced by people who understand how to use them. If you want to stay relevant, you need to keep learning. – Hannah McNaughton, Metric Marketing
5. Technological Advancement
Technological advancement is the single largest risk for digital marketers, and at the same time, possibly the largest opportunity. AI can outperform most campaign managers. Cybersecurity is a major risk for single-server websites. Marketers should double down on tech skills in order to leverage AI for increased productivity, and also migrate to composable architecture for all website development. – Justin Cook, 9thCO Inc.
6. Pay-To-Play Lists In Search Results
Google is rewarding “lists” with high rankings in search engine results pages. If you have a client who is a service provider, doctor, lawyer or accountant, for example, they typically appear after “Top 20” lists from Clutch, Thumbtack, Yelp, DesignRush and others. These lists are growing, offer high placement for a fee and are lightly vetted. In short, they are gaming the system. – T. Maxwell, eMaximize
7. Synthetic Content
Synthetic content is a major issue for digital marketers. In the age of generative AI, content can easily be modified. Despite generative AI’s benefits, it also opens the door for synthetic content, which poses issues to brands in terms of safety and copyright infringement. Adopting standards such as the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity for content authentication is a good first step to establish guidelines going forward. – Ray Lansigan, Publicis Groupe
8. Misinformation And ‘Fake News’
The rise of misinformation and “fake news” poses a significant risk to digital marketing, potentially damaging brand reputation and consumer trust. Agencies need to be transparent, consistently fact-check content and promptly address any misleading information linked to their brands. Developing a robust crisis management strategy can also help them respond effectively when faced with such issues. – Daniyal Zafar, Zap Media
9. The Blurred Line Between Marketing And Advertising
The blurred line between marketing and advertising presents a risk to digital marketers. To prevent confusion or distrust, agencies should be proactive by labeling their content and specifying whether it is an advertisement. By being up front about potential questions readers may have, marketers can avert criticism before it arises. – Kathleen Lucente, Red Fan Communications
10. Consumer Privacy Rules
As consumer privacy rules, such as those imposed by the General Data Protection Regulation, the California Consumer Privacy Act and the new iOS, make it tougher for marketers to target audiences, more brands are competing for an ever-shrinking pool of consumers. So achieving the right return-on-investment numbers can be tough. Lean into creativity, not AI or shortcuts: Come up with clever copy and better creative, and drill down on targeting to reach the most precise consumer targets possible. – Dan Kahn, Kahn Media, Inc.
11. Plagiarism And Copyright Infringement
Plagiarism and copyright infringement via AI-generated content are extreme risks that digital marketing is facing with the rise of AI. Many tools provided to digital marketers now incorporate AI for writing, and many are using it without caution. When using an AI writing tool, it’s important to realize that it pulls from previously written and published sources—so if it is used, it needs to be edited in depth. – Monique Tatum, BPM-PR Firm (Beautiful Planning Marketing & PR)
12. The Instability Of Social Media Platforms
Changes of all kinds—including evolving tech, platform policies and even state law—can obviously disrupt strategies overnight. Agencies should diversify their platforms and remain flexible, ready to adapt strategies quickly in response to platform shifts. This level of foresight will help them maintain stability in their campaigns. – Danielle Wiley, Sway Group
13. The Further Fracturing Of The Marketplace
With ChatGPT coming online and being integrated with Bing and other platforms, you are going to see less use of Google over time. This means that you can’t just buy ads on Google and call it a day. Your audience will be on other platforms that you will have to learn and market on in the coming years. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design
You can’t ever let your guard down when it comes to cybersecurity. As digital marketing channels proliferate, so do vulnerabilities. Never forget to lock all the doors and windows in the house as you rush to go out to play in new and exciting ways. – Stephen Rosa, (add)ventures