Top 5 Dying Marketing Trends for 2018 & What You Should Do Instead

By: Andrew Friedenthal on December 19, 2017

The only thing easier than making New Year’s resolutions is breaking them within a week. But what about those resolutions you can’t afford to break?

With the new year coming soon, it’s time to reflect on what has—and hasn’t—worked in the world of marketing in 2017. This will shed light on what marketing trends will pick up steam and, more importantly, what trends are on their way out.


And now that song is in your head. You’re welcome.

We talked to several marketing experts in order to get their thoughts on what trends are on their way out in 2018.

We’ve distilled their advice into these top five trends to avoid, along with what you should do instead.

Here’s a breakdown of the trends to avoid:

1. Pop-Ups & Banner Ads

2. Autoplay Videos

3. Stock Photos

4. Content For the Sake of Content

5. Extremely Optimized Content

1. Pop-Ups & Banner Ads

We all know them, and we all hate them—those ads that pop up and dominate the top of the site you’re viewing so you have to scroll down to get to the good stuff.


An example of a banner ad on comic book news website Newsarama

Fortunately for all of us, those pop-ups and banner ads are on their way out the door, due to the rise of mobile traffic and the success of native advertising (which we’ll discuss below).

As Jameson Slattery, VP of global marketing at Colorescience explains, “People spend less time surfing the internet on computers and more time on mobile devices, where many marketers find that click through rates for banner ads are significantly lower. Native advertising reaches the same audience more efficiently and is 53 percent more likely to generate leads.”

He also notes, in regard to pop-up ads, “Google announced that they will take action to penalize websites with pop-up ads and launched an initiative to let websites know if they have ads that users find annoying.”

What to Do Instead: Think about using native advertising, where advertisements follow the natural form and function of the website in which it is placed.

This includes things like social media ads, sponsored content and “advertorial” videos that provide useful content while still advertising your product. This can be especially useful for small and midsize businesses (SMBs), who may not be able to afford expensive banner ads in the first place.

2. Autoplay Videos

If consumers hate pop-ups and banner ads, then they really hate videos that automatically play on a website. Nothing blows the cover of somebody sneaking some personal internet shopping time or recreational blog reading during the work day than a sudden loud video playing.


An auto-playing video ad on music news website Stereogum

Jen Salamandick, strategy director and partner at Kickpoint, puts it bluntly: “Intrusive marketing is the worst. In fact, Google Chrome is in the process of blocking autoplay video already—so you need to move on from throwing annoying auto-play video at people right now.”

What to Do Instead: Don’t force your visitors to watch a video. Instead, create engaging videos with titles and thumbnails that draw them in. Make them want to watch your content instead of just blasting it out at them.

As making a good video these days requires more creativity than it does money, this can be an especially useful tactic for SMBs.

3. Stock Photos

For years now, marketers have been putting out content for the internet that utilizes a variety of stock photos, because they’re cheap, inoffensive and easy to find.

However, Fit Small Business staff writer Maggie Aland argues that this is one trend that’s on the way out: “If you want your audience to connect with your brand, stop using generic stock images. Chances are they’ve already seen the picture multiple times in various contexts, so instead choose a more personalized image that stands out.”

Anthony Kane, senior SEO strategist at 1SEO Digital Agency, adds, “Users have become very keen to spotting and ignoring stock imagery. Stock photos simply don’t resonate with users like a personalized image or video does.”


We were once guilty of using stock photos—but not anymore. Deliberately designed images create a recognizable aesthetic.

What to Do Instead: Create your own custom, high-quality images to go along with your content. This will provide you with an opportunity to create more visually arresting pieces that catch readers’ eyes, and that can differentiate your SMB’s brand from faceless corporate competitors.

4. Content for the Sake of Content

In today’s marketing realm, content is king. The best way to attract customers is through providing them with relatable, enjoyable and usable content that draws them to your website and moves them along to a next best action.

However, some marketers take this too far and simply create content for the sake of creating content. As Madeline Jacobson, digital content team leader at Leverage Marketing, explains:

Businesses are wasting their time if they’re churning out a couple of 300-word blog posts per week on topics that have been thoroughly covered by higher authority sites.

Madeline Jacobson, content team leader at Leverage Marketing

She goes on to point out that “businesses’ search engine rankings can actually be hurt by low-quality, thin content.”

Not only will creating too much low-quality content hurt you in the search engines , but it will also hurt you with your readers and customers, who will stop paying attention to what you’re producing.

What to Do Instead: Make sure every piece of content has an explicit purpose that connects to both your business and your readers. Put effort into creating content that is high quality, rather than focusing on a high quantity.

Be helpful and engaging, but most of all be sure to make a point. This doesn’t cost you any extra money, so SMBs should be sure to take advantage of it.

5. Extremely Optimized Content

Speaking of content, in recent years there’s been a trend to make sure every piece of content is as optimized as possible to receive search engine attention. However, the search engine companies themselves, led by Google, have gotten wise to this, and may now penalize content that is overly optimized.

Here are some signs you may be over-optimizing your content:

  • Internal links use keyword-rich anchors

  • All links point to top-level navigation pages

  • The page contains multiple H1s

  • The URL is keyword-dense

  • Keywords aren’t relevant to your site

Alexandra Bohigian, marketing coordinator at Enola Labs Software, explains that, “the past couple of years we have seen search engines become overly inundated with content that is clearly of little to no value to actual readers.”

This, of course, connects back to our previous dying trend. Optimized content simply doesn’t do as well in Google’s algorithm as content that proves useful to readers over the long term.

Bohigian notes, “We are finding that marketers who invest more time creating a high quality piece of content that is useful and purposeful to the brand’s audience will be much more successful than content written strictly for SEO. Write meaningful content for your audience and rankings will rise naturally over time.”

What to Do Instead: Focus on the quality of your content itself, rather than structuring it around optimization for SEO purposes. Better content means better ranking over time, regardless of optimization or business size.

Next Steps

Now that you know what not to do in 2018 (and have ideas of what to do instead), you’re probably curious to know which aspects of the marketing field will still be viable in the coming year.

Fortunately, in this era of automation, one truth that holds strong is that marketing software will be able to help you in your efforts, from email marketing and social media management to marketing analytics and content marketing!