As Warc report, using technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality effectively, and rethinking social video, are among the key challenges marketers face in 2017, according to a new report produced by the industry research experts in collaboration with Deloitte Digital.
Their Toolkit 2017 report examines some important marketing trends they have isolated for the year ahead, distilling the thinking and research published on Warc, and Deloitte Digital’s practical experience, into an interesting guide for marketers.
Artificial intelligence (AI), for example, is expected to deliver marketing opportunities around insight generation, chat-bots, personal assistants and the automatic optimisation of media buying to deliver, presumably, both better targeting of spend and lower advertiser costs.
Virtual reality, meanwhile, is close to fulfilling its promise as a viable mainstream marketing tool capable of offering emotionally engaging brand experiences. Augmented reality has been around longer, but the success of Pokémon GO has prompted a reassessment of the technology’s marketing possibilities.
As the headsets for viewing virtual reality tumble in price, they offer a new and interesting range of brand experience opportunities for customers.
3. Social video
Social video has seen massive growth as a content marketing format, with social platforms turning, essentially, into a new form of broadcast media. While this trend is expected to continue in 2017, brands will need to put greater emphasis on quality rather than quantity and to consider the emotional and social motivations for content engagement.
The flip side of social as a broadcast medium is the growing use of messaging apps, where communications between users are private and so are of limited usefulness to advertisers. The rise of so-called ‘dark social’ points to a need to develop a more intimate conversational approach which works with how users actually implement these technologies. (Dark social is a term coined by Alexis C. Madrigal, a senior editor at The Atlantic, to refer to the social sharing of content that occurs outside of what can be measured by Web analytics programs.)
4. Subscription relationships
Brands are also looking at ways to take their product direct to the consumer, via connected buttons, for example, or through subscriptions. Unilever’s $1bn purchase of Dollar Shave Club indicated that the subscription model is being taken very seriously by established brands.
5. Re-balancing social media goals
Finally, there is the ongoing question of how to market most effectively in the digital age – should a brand go for reach or for close targeting with its communications? Recent research has also suggested that brands are failing to adequately balance short- and long-term marketing strategies.
At MOP we give a nod to all those trends, which we are starting to see turning up in a number of our clients, but we also issue a strong word of warning.
6. Mainstream media will survive and thrive
Whilst all these technologies are useful, they do not (and we would argue, will not) replace the power, reach and impact of what has hitherto been known as “mainstream media”. As we have explained elsewhere on this blog, the real challenge for marketeers is to understand how to fit new technologies into their overall marketing mix, and not to assume that what would have in a previous generation been known as “below the line” activity will do the job on its own.
The other problem is to ensure congruity between the various messages being sent out.
Having one experience on line, one in advertising, and one at point of sale, is a recipe for disaster. Customers do not differentiate between the three in their judgement of a brand. Marketeers ignore this blazingly obvious fact at their peril.
7. Fluid working (and media consumption)
One megatrend we perceive, perhaps because of the industry we’re in, will be the continuing growth of people working in a more fluid way, merging their work and leisure time, aided and abetted by technology, and not adhering to any one location or 9-5 schedule. This tend, of course, has been accelerating in recent years, and it seems almost a cliché to mention it. But what interests us is how media may evolve to answer those audiences. A radio station, for example, will be assiduous about offering traffic reports on the hour, because historically people listen to the radio while driving. All well and good. But what should or could they be offering their listeners who have the radio on at home – or in the park, of coffee shop – while they work?
(And by the way, what about those drivers who still listen to the radio in their car, but stream it from the internet from a favourite Net-based station. How do we now send them traffic news?)
We have a strong suspicion that – if the truth be told – most advertisers only have a sketchy idea of what their customers are doing, thinking and acting upon, and when. Broad brushstroke measures like when a website gets hits, and how much time is spent on it, are now commonplace, but they are also of limited help. Because what matters is not knowing that our website gets the most hits between 10am and noon on Mondays and Thursdays, but why.