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It’s hard to believe that we’re already counting down the final days of 2018. This year has been a whirlwind in digital marketing stories and trends — some we saw coming at the beginning of the year and some we didn’t. But as we look ahead to 2019, we’re taking another stab at some digital marketing trends that we think will have the biggest impact on our homebuilder clients and on the advertising industry as a whole. Take a look.

Stability from Facebook (or not)

To say that 2018 was a bad year for “big blue” out in Silicon Valley would be a massive understatement. It wasn’t just the growing privacy concerns; it wasn’t just the Russian election-meddling accusations; it wasn’t just the slowing growth of its user base. No, it was all those things that snowballed into a terrible year for Facebook and its shareholders.

Given all the internal and external challenges Facebook has on its plate heading into the new year, we understand why so many have predicted this to be the beginning of the end for the social media giant. But we’re actually a bit more bullish than most on the prospects for the platform.

There are supposedly plenty of advertiser-friendly updates in the works for Instagram (owned by Facebook, of course) that will make it an even more robust platform for brands — thankfully, none of these rumored updates seem like they’ll break the current user experience. And even as it endured a seemingly endless stream of bad news, Facebook generated $13.73 billion in revenue and maintained 185 million daily active users in Q3 2018.

We’re not saying that Facebook doesn’t need to get a lot of things figured out — and fast — if it hopes to hang onto the throne. We just wouldn’t count out Zuckerberg quite yet.

Big Strides Towards 5G

It seems like we’ve been hearing about 5G for a decade without any tangible results. Well, 2019 might be the year that we start seeing at least some of that promise come to fruition.

We’ll let the networking experts explain what 5G is and why it’s vastly superior to existing 4G networks, but the possibilities of this emerging technology are endless in the world of homebuilding. From changing the way brands can reach consumers throughout the buyer journey to being able to offer more reliable broadband speeds in rural or developing communities, homebuilders should keep their eyes on the strides that will be made towards a more connected future in the year ahead.

The big caveat to this is, of course, how the Huawei — which is at the forefront of 5G deployments around the world — handles its controversies and how that could affect 5G rollouts in the U.S.

High-Quality Visual Assets Are Made the Priority Among Homebuilders

Put this one on our wish list as well as our list of predictions. As home sales platforms such as Zillow continue to prioritize listings with high-quality videos and images, we think (and hope) that more homebuilders will make larger investments in their visual assets library.

In-depth video tours, professionally developed photography and lifelike renderings do come at a higher upfront cost, but because they can be used across a variety of ad placements and online sources, they’re more than worth it. And as users become more focused on the visual aspects of your website and advertising placements, you can either give them what they want or risk being ignored entirely.

GDPR-esque Enforcement Considered in the U.S.

While international brands continued to grapple with the European-Union-mandated GDPR requirements online, 2018 was a year filled with more questions than answers about data privacy in the U.S.

It’s starting to feel like it’s only a matter of time before similar consumer privacy and data-protection rules are rolled out in the U.S., but it’s anybody’s guess as to whether or not the current administration has the political will or desire to make that happen. But with more and more of our data flowing through companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft, it’s only fair to question whether or not there need to be tighter regulations on how data is collected and used.

More Transparency from Brands, Advertisers and Online Services

One of the best ways for the advertising industry to avoid over-regulation is to self-regulate before it becomes necessary at all.

We think there’s a good chance that you’ll see more data-driven companies, such as Facebook and Google, be more open about how they’re collecting your data and what it’s being used for. It also wouldn’t be too surprising to see more brands be more transparent about how they’re treating user data to build consumer trust as we move deeper into the digital age.

We’ll have to wait and see how these predictions will shake out in the new year, but as 2019 and its trending topics become clearer, we’ll stay on top of all of it right here on our blog. If you don’t want to miss anything along the way, be sure to subscribe to NDG Insights, our monthly roundup of stories from our blog.

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