People have officially settled into the new year and while resolutions may be but a distant memory for some, for digital marketers, it’s still a time to be conscious of what lies ahead. 2016 proved to be a fruitful one on the digital marketing as emerging and expanding social media platforms continued to gain recognition, the importance of mobile weighed heavy, and need for video became well-known. As we look ahead and reevaluate based on what’s unfolded in 2017 thus far, it’s clear that the year will be one of emerging AI solutions, instant communication outlets, and more avenues for social media in real-time.
As your marketing plans for the year continue to evolve, take note of these ten trends on the radar for digital marketers in 2017.
1. Artificial Intelligence Solutions
No longer just the subject of a 2001 film starring Haley Joel Osment, artificial intelligence is becoming more and more tangible. It has even found relevancy among digital marketers as solutions continue to evolve around the technology. Gini Dietrich, CEO of Arment Dietrich and author of Spin Sucks, wrote about an experience in which she was introduced to a company that produced stories for publications written by robots. These stories veer more towards statistical reports rather than storytelling. This means that while the technology isn’t quite capable in the present of changing the role of the 2017 content marketer, it is something worth embracing rather than fighting.
Artificial intelligence marketing won’t only be able to lend a helping hand to marketers. Consumers will also find benefit in the advancing technology. With this type of intelligence built into the buying and marketing experience, AI analytics will be able to better predict consumer needs, making the overall purchasing experience that much more personalized.
2. Real-Time Social aka Live Video Streaming
If you’re an active Facebook user, or simply aware of their advertisements as of late, you’re most likely familiar with the concept of Facebook Live. This live streaming platform was launched in early 2016 and has been consistently pushed by the platform ever since. Users and businesses alike have put the feature to use for distribution of news media, personal use, entertainment, etc. And according to statistics provided by Facebook, users are watching these live streams three times longer than prerecorded videos.
Shortly after the functionality stepped on the scene, Instagram took a page out of rival Snapchat’s book with the introduction of Live Stories in late 2016. YouTube Live and Twitter via Periscope have also played off this idea of real-time social, and it’s clear this trend won’t be dying off anytime soon. Marketers will need to think in terms of not just video content, but live video content and how it can connect with potential customers throughout the year(s) ahead.
3. Immersive Marketing
2016 unveiled advancements in the world of technology not just in terms of artificial intelligence, but artificial realities as well. These virtual and augmented experiences have been packaged into consumer-friendly offerings and has left marketers conscious of things like VR headsets as they lay out plans for the year ahead.
In addition, platforms like Facebook and YouTube have both introduced 360-degree video experiences, transporting users to worlds that extend beyond their screens, and allow brands the ability to make even greater contact with potential buyers. One example of this technology in action would be from a promotion run for Star Wars; Rogue One, which gave viewers the opportunity to feel as if they were in the world of Star Wars themselves. This immersive method of marketing will only continue to refine itself as more brands develop content around it in 2017.
4. Influencer Marketing
A consumer world hungry for authenticity brought about a rise in influencer marketing in 2016 and became one of the hottest strategies for many brands to explore. In 2017, expect to see this method mature as brands not only partner with relevant voices within the influencer realm, but also co-create original and unique content pieces to drive consumers further down the purchasing funnel. As these platforms (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and even Snapchat) continue to see advertising opportunities build around these network “celebrities”, more will be done to accommodate them.
The chatbot concept is not new technology—in fact, it’s been around since early Internet days when it tooks shape on AOL Instant Messenger and through tools like Microsoft Office’s Clippy. While the functionality was somewhat limited, they served to entertain users in various stages through the product experience. In 2017, these tools will certainly come back in full force and then some.
For example, Google Allo (first launched in September 2016) is a service with the capability of reading and interpreting messages while also then recommending relevant responses. Chatbots are now able to be produced for other messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger. And brands have started incorporating them into their customer experiences such as Taco Bell and Dominos, who provide the ability to order food via chatbot functionality.
6. Native Advertising
Similar in nature to the concept of influencer marketing, native advertising is a method of reaching consumers in which publications will produce content that looks editorial in nature, but is in fact sponsored and paid for by a brand/business. While it’s certainly not a new method in the world of advertising, it will continue to become increasingly important as content marketers in the digital sphere clamor for the attention of consumers across saturated channels. The way in which this content is produced will also continue to evolve, especially as video continues to become more widely used.
7. More Visual Content
And speaking of, the landscape for digital marketing in 2017 will become completely dominated by video and graphics when it comes to content. Viral videos will continue to be just that, viral, and see more widespread distribution across channels challenging television. For example, many ads for this year’s Super Bowl were widely spread (even before the game) across social media channels like Facebook. Consumers, especially the Millennial and Generation Z groups, expect the visual content and if it serves as a way for them to gather and share information, brands better create around these types if they want to get noticed.
8. Increased Personalization
The amount of data able to be gathered around consumers has only continued to increase with the evolving technologies. However, there is still opportunity for companies to better leverage information in a way that transforms the buyer’s experience. The data market is estimated to see huge lifts in 2017—from $1.7 billion in 2016 to $9.4 billion this year—which means a huge lift into the personalization of experience around a customer’s buying habits and behaviors.
9. Mobile Device Dependency
From browsing to shopping, photography to communicating with friends over social media, the happenings of daily life for most people nowadays revolves around their mobile device. This dependency will only continue to strengthen in the year ahead as more tasks become consolidated to this hand-held tool. Some of the ways marketers can best accommodate for this will be to ensure their web design in mobile responsive across the board and to produce an app even more of a mobile tailored experience.
10. The Internet of Things
IoT aka the Internet of Things is representative of the interconnection of different computing devices to send and receive data through the use of the Internet. More simply put, it’s a term to bridge all of the devices people use in everyday life that connect to the Internet. These can take shape in the form of mobile devices, thermostats, smart cars, wearables, etc.
Wearable devices are probably one of the more easier methods to think of in terms of IoT. Watches of the past were simple accessories capable of telling time and quite possibly, temperature. Now, with the advent of devices like the Apple Watch and others, text messaging, calls, and other smartphone capabilities have been transferred to the wrist and more easily accessible than ever before. Devices like the Amazon Echo have now taken this concept and applied it to the home where every service has become consolidated and accessible via one central device.
As technology continues to advance and consumers are met with more sophisticated content channels, the need for digital marketing agencies to become more savvy with their approach will be vital. On-the-go, connected, immersive, visual, authentic—all of these and more are guiding adjectives for what lies ahead in 2017. Have you already begun to embrace them?