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A Decade in Review: Marketing and Call Channel Trends from 2010-2019

Derek Andersen Copywriter, DialogTech

A lot has changed in the past decade. Ten years ago, LeBron James took his talents to South Beach, Sarah Palin was named Time’s Person of the Year, and I had a sick “All I Do Is Win” ringtone on my Blackberry. 

We also witnessed an explosion of technological growth that radically shifted how businesses reach their audiences — namely, a shift from traditional to digital advertising channels. Rather than minimizing the impact of phone calls, this shift to digital has made the call channel surge in popularity — calling a business is now as easy as tapping a phone number or call button displayed in a mobile ad or webpage. 

Below is our year-by-year recap of the most important marketing and call channel trends and breakthroughs of the last decade.

2010

  • Google’s top searches of 2010 were:
    • Chatroulette
    • iPad
    • Justin Bieber
    • Nicki Minaj
    • Friv
  • Google released click-to-call extensions for local ads. This revolutionized search advertising for multi-location businesses and franchises, allowing them to automatically display the local phone number closest to the searcher’s location.
  • YouTube announced that users uploaded more than 13 million hours of video content to its servers in 2010, resulting in more than 700 billion YouTube video views. For marketers, this spurred a tremendous amount of interest in the “viral video.”
  • A fledgling social media platform was launched — you may have heard of it — called Instagram. Critics dismissed it as “just another photo-sharing app.”
  • We also saw the release of this bad boy:
iphone 4

The iPhone 4

  • A 2-year-old call analytics company called Ifbyphone (you know it now as DialogTech) was navigating this new digital media landscape in Skokie, Illinois. It launched its DNI (dynamic number insertion) technology, which revolutionized call attribution, providing businesses with a way to track the phone calls their digital ads, website, and offline media were driving.

 

2011

  • Google’s fastest rising searches of 2011 were:
    • Rebecca Black
    • Google Plus
    • Ryan Dunn
    • Casey Anthony
    • Battlefield 3
  • Google launched Google+ in an effort to connect users to all of their social platforms at once. We all know how that turned out.
  • Snapchat was launched, leading my dad to remark, “I don’t get it. Why do the pictures go away?”

Snapchat original ad

  • DVR usage climbed to 42% of households — more viewers than ever before were skipping TV commercials.
  • 1 in 2 Americans owned a smartphone. This increased the importance of mobile-first web development. It also led to more calls being placed from digital advertisements and websites. 
  • San Francisco famously banned the unsolicited distribution of Yellow Pages. The physical phone book became obsolete.
  • DialogTech announced its integration with Google Analytics. The integration allows marketers to push their call data into the platform, helping them make smarter optimizations.

 

2012

  • Google’s top searches of 2012 were:
    • Whitney Houston
    • Gangnam Style
    • Hurricane Sandy
    • iPad 3
    • Diablo 3
  • Facebook reached 1 billion users. 

  • Facebook acquired Instagram, which had just reached 25 million users. This surge in social media adoption led many businesses to see social media as a viable advertising channel. 
  • Facebook also rolled out custom audience targeting, allowing marketers to upload their own lists for ad targeting. This allowed for laser-focused remarketing to specific consumers, rather than relying on Facebook’s broader demographic targeting.
  • Apple took Samsung to court for infringing on its iPad and iPhone patents. The jury decided in Apple’s favor, awarding them over $1 billion in damages.
  • DialogTech relocated its headquarters from Skokie, Illinois to the heart of downtown Chicago. 
  • DialogTech founder and CEO Irv Shapiro was named one of TechWeek’s 100 Most Influential Individuals in Chicago Technology.

 

2013

  • Google’s top searches of 2013 were:
    • Nelson Mandela
    • Paul Walker
    • iPhone 5s
    • Cory Monteith
    • Harlem Shake
  • Facebook released Lookalike Audiences, allowing marketers to target users with similar attributes to those who previously converted.
  • The media landscape became increasingly fragmented. Consumers began to do that thing where they half watch a show and half scroll through Twitter. In response, marketers needed to create stronger omnichannel strategies to track and reach their consumers across channels.

Media Fragmentation

  • Netflix started streaming its first original content, House of Cards. This worried analysts about the future of cable television and commercials.
  • More than 40% of Americans heard about Tweets almost every day in the media. Twitter, and social media in general, became an integral part of how people got their news. This didn’t have disastrous consequences or anything…
  • DialogTech updated the UI of its cloud-based IVR, allowing marketers and salespeople to build and modify inbound and outbound automated voice dialogues in minutes to improve the caller experience.

 

2014

  • Google’s top searches of 2014 were:
    • Robin Williams
    • World Cup
    • Ebola
    • Malaysia Airlines
    • ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
  • Google released Shopping campaigns. This powerful new ad format allowed merchants to display images of their products at the top of the search results with ratings underneath.

Google Shopping Campaigns

  • Google released In-Market Audiences for display and YouTube ads, allowing marketers to upload custom lists so they could remarket to consumers who had already engaged with their brand.
  • Amazon released the Echo voice speaker. The device was poised to revolutionize the role of voice in consumer web browsing and shopping.

Amazon Echo Ad

  • DialogTech grew at an unprecedented rate, doubling its employee count from 75 to 150 in a single year.
  • DialogTech raised an additional $30 million and acquired call analytics provider Mongoose Metrics. 

 

2015

  • Google’s top searches of 2015 were:
    • Lamar Odom
    • Charlie Hebdo
    • Agar.io
    • Jurassic World
    • Paris
  • For the first time, there were more mobile searches than desktop searches. In response, Google updated its algorithm to incorporate mobile-friendliness as a key ranking factor. Many referred to this shift to mobile as “Mobilegeddon.”
  • Google released call-only campaigns. This ad format showed up only on mobile devices and displayed phone numbers with a short description, compelling searchers to place calls.

Call Only Campaigns

  • Marketers and media companies made a large-scale “pivot to video” from traditional text-based content, due to metrics reported by Facebook and other social media platforms. This shift was controversial because it resulted in massive layoffs. And it was later discovered that those metrics weren’t so reliable after all
  • DialogTech launched SpamSentry, allowing businesses to block 99% of spam calls.

 

2016

  • To compete with Amazon Echo, Google released its own voice device, Google Home.

Google home ad

  • Twitter shut down its short-form video-sharing site, Vine, due to difficulties with monetization. Just a year prior, the site had over 200 million active users
  • Spurred by the massive influx of social media users, “influencer marketing” became one of the hottest buzzwords of the year. Brands started to recruit influencers to create sponsored posts promoting their products.
  • DialogTech released DialogAnalytics™, the first AI-powered solution that automatically captures insights from phone conversations at scale. This allows marketers to understand not just the quantity, but also the quality of calls they’re driving. It also helps marketers capture first-party data on callers to use for smarter remarketing.

 

2017

  • Google’s top searches of 2017 were:
    • Hurricane Irma
    • iPhone 8
    • iPhone X
    • Matt Lauer
    • Meghan Markle
  • Google rolled out its own version of Lookalike Audiences for search and shopping. This feature allows marketers to target similar audiences to those who already converted, helping them to achieve repeatable results.
  • Native advertising became popularized on major platforms. Native advertising is, essentially, a sponsored ad that a marketer pays to place on a third-party site. This could be a sponsored post on a social media feed, a sponsored product on a SERP page (such as Amazon), or a piece of sponsored content on a website. This form of advertising is designed to engage users by showing them relevant products and content within the context of the third-party website, rather than disrupting the website’s experience to hard-sell.

Native Advertising on the Onion

  • AI became a staple of the martech landscape. Brands began to use AI to enhance their PPC bidding strategies, personalize email blasts, predict churn, monitor search engine optimization, and capture and aggregate customer insights across channels.
  • DialogTech announced that its call tracking and analytics solution for healthcare marketers was fully HIPAA-compliant.
  • DialogTech partnered with Yext to help marketers measure the impact of phone calls driven by online listings.

 

2018

  • Google’s top searches of 2018 were:
    • World Cup
    • Avicii
    • Mac Miller
    • Stan Lee
    • Black Panther
  • Google AdWords rebranded to become Google Ads.
  • Google announced that over half of the pages shown in its search results globally were indexed using a mobile-first procedure. This put even more pressure on brands to optimize the mobile versions of their websites.
  • TikTok became the world’s number one free mobile app, leading me to remark, “I don’t get it. Isn’t this just Vine?”
  • Congress called Mark Zuckerberg to testify after learning Facebook allowed Cambridge Analytica to harvest users’ personal data without their consent. This scandal put an increased emphasis on data security.

Mark Zuckerberg Testifies before Congress

  • GDPR was created to impose uniform data security laws for all EU members. GDPR safeguards the use and collection of consumer data.
  • The California Consumer Privacy Act was signed into law to create new rights around the use and sale of sensitive personal data (the law goes into effect in 2020).
  • In the wake of these data scandals, we saw a shift as marketers began to tap into more of their first-party data, rather than relying on third-party data that could have been collected unethically or illegally.
  • DialogTech launched DialogAnalytics Pro™, the next iteration of DialogAnalytics solution, providing marketers with even more granular insights into callers. Marketers can use DialogAnalytics Pro to bolster their first-party data and enhance their ad targeting.
  • DialogTech won the Martech breakthrough award for best marketing analytics solution.

 

2019

  • Google’s top searches of 2019 were:
    • India vs South Africa
    • Cameron Boyce
    • Copa America
    • Bangladesh vs India
    • iPhone 11
  • For the first time, digital ad spending surpassed traditional ad spending in the US.
  • Digital advertisements drove over 162 billion phone calls in 2019. This represents a 111% percent increase since 2014.
  • Voice search adoption grew rapidly — 26.2% of US adults owned a smart speaker in 2019. In response, marketers invested more budget in optimizing for “the voice of the customer.” 
  • Spam calls got worse. Nearly half of all phone calls made to US cell phones in 2019 were spam. 
  • Apple released the iPhone 11. How far we’ve come.
  • DialogTech launched its Google Ads KPIs, allowing marketers to pass AI-driven call analytics data into Google Ads so they can make smarter bidding optimizations.
  • DialogTech was named the best call management solution by MarTech Breakthrough.

 

Looking Ahead

Over the past decade, we saw an unprecedented technological boom. These advances shifted the landscape of the marketing world as well as the way we connect with one another through our mobile devices. 

One thing remains clear: phone calls are not going away. In fact, among other reasons, the ease of click-to-call options has only made this channel more popular. The most successful marketers in 2020 and beyond will be able to tie together all of their marketing channels — including phone calls — to gain a cohesive view of their consumers.

To learn how leading brands used call tracking and conversation intelligence to thrive in the rapidly-changing landscape of the 2010s, check out our ebook, The Marketer’s Big Book of Call Tracking Success Stories.

To learn how leading brands used call tracking and conversation intelligence to thrive in the rapidly-changing landscape of the 2010s, check out our ebook, The Marketer’s Big Book of Call Tracking Success Stories.

Download My eBook