Since marketing went digital, the culture of promoting our businesses has become truly fluid. Constant algorithm changes, new social media platforms arising, the shifting trends of user interfaces, ‘dank memes’ becoming ‘danker’ – the transformative nature of the internet has meant that digital marketing is constantly changing, and marketers have to adapt, fast.
That being said, the trajectory can be plotted…sort of. As new and relevant technologies become commercially viable we can assume they’ll be utilised by the industry. And for burgeoning technologies that have already reared their head, we can predict how they’ll be adopted and whether we can expect to see them grow exponentially too. So here are our predictions for marketing in 2017:
Native advertising will become a new norm
With the rise of ad blockers and the growing sense of entitlement over what we see online, native advertising is often seen as the countermeasure for marketers eager for eyes on their material. Native ads aren’t a new phenomenon, but they are gaining popularity on digital platforms.
The simple definition of a native ad? It’s an advert that blends in with its surroundings, appearing, non-intrusively, on websites in much the same way that editorial content does. Ad blockers usually don’t block editorial content and viewers don’t knee-jerk reject it either.
The application of native advertising has been causing a stir for a while now, so what makes 2017 significant for it?
In October 2016, mobile web browsing overtook desktop for the first time. Also in 2016, at least 309 million smartphone users employed adblockers when browsing on mobile. With mobile swiftly becoming the medium of choice for consuming media and ad blocking proliferating on that medium, the marketing industry is set to lose billions. As native advertising, for the most part, serves as a way to circumvent conventional ad blocking, it’s looking highly likely that we’re going to see a surge of investment in it in the coming year.
Augmented/Virtual Reality will hit its stride
Virtual reality has been a dream of technophiles for decades, but it’s clear that only now are we approaching a breakthrough that will finally make it mainstream viable. With Facebook-owned Oculus vying for VR and AR application for social media use, VR entering the gaming industry, and enough headsets entering to the market to make it competitive, many consider this to be the precipice of a new era of media.
Facebook’s ambition to build a ‘new communication platform’ where you ‘can share unbounded spaces and experiences’ sounds a little sci-fi and typical of Mark Zuckerberg’s ‘I’ve-got-almost-two-billion-users zeal.
Let’s be real though.
How does Facebook make its money?
Facebook’s billion-dollar ad revenue has been steadily climbing for the past three years. However, this level of growth can’t last forever. Facebook has announced that its growth will slow in 2017 due to them hitting ‘maximum ad load’, where they hit the limit of how many ads they can show a user before they start to compromise the user experience.
It makes sense then that when Facebook inevitably creates the new, even more personal social space with VR/AR, they’ll design it with advertising capability in mind.
Live Video will begin to thrive
Another prediction that is testament to Facebook’s authority in the digital world is the continued growth of its Live Video feature. Live streaming has become increasingly popular online, with platforms such as YouTube adopting it and broadcasters like Twitch propelling it, but again it is Facebook that has taken the mantle of pushing it to the mainstream. Since Facebook introduced in-feed video, it’s swiftly grown as a major outlet for video marketing, with the obvious advantages of a built-in audience and engagement-based retargeting.
Facebook Live looks to be a further push into broadcasting space, with brands already diving in to engage with their fans in new ways.
The appeal of Facebook Live lies in the increased sense of connectedness that’s inherent with real-time interaction. There’s a reason why email gave way to instant messenger, after all. Live broadcasts are one of the most intimate and genuine connections you can make with your audience online; people appreciate that there’s no post-production sanitising or editing, which is why marketers (and viewers) are flocking to it. Expect to see Facebook Live really start thriving in 2017 as more marketers adopt it.
Data won’t falter, will improve
Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign relied heavily on a data algorithm called Ada. Strategic decisions, like where to broadcast material and where to hold rallies (where Clinton would market her campaign, essentially) were allegedly heavily reliant on this data algorithm. The swathes of data that was fed into this algorithm should have enabled Ada to determine which key battlegrounds needed more rallies. You might not have heard, but Clinton lost, and states that were generally seen as safe like Michigan and Wisconsin went red.
2016 has been a turbulent year. One of the biggest contributors to this turbulence is the data that failed to predict the seismic political events like Brexit and the US elections. While the public will approach the next political (or sporting – Leicester City thrashed the odds this year too, we liked that) crossroads with new found scepticism of data projections, they’re still going to come out on top.
Data analysis from the likes of Alphabet (FKA Google) are part and parcel of marketing campaigns now, and our familiarity with them as key components of operations is standard.
So, while the use of data to forecast things has sensationally failed this year, we’re not suddenly going to dismiss it and start marketing via stargazing, although I’ve heard that all of Midas Media’s competitors believe in that shit (and not just the centaurs). The failure of data in 2016 however will lead to a reconsideration about the quality of our data, how we feed it into algorithmic tools and how invested we are in the results. This will be a good thing.
Twitter will endure
There have been many articles outlining the plight of social network Twitter. To be fair, Twitter has its issues. There are millions of bots and shallow engagement can range from a perfunctory retweet that goes nowhere to a troll comment sharing a meme that purports that you’re some kind of alien. Twitter’s user growth has slowed too: only 7 million users for the three quarters of 2016 measured. Its main source of revenue, advertising, is not particularly in demand either.
Worst of all, my shit gif tweets are deservedly neglected and I still can’t accept that.
battling your crippling lack of self-discipline. pic.twitter.com/T7uH0tFIWC
— Nat Rubyan-Ling ✒️✒️ (@Nat_RL1) November 16, 2016
Yet in spite of these challenges, Twitter is still at the forefront of popular culture. With the constant media references to Trump’s 140-character outbursts, Twitter’s lubrication of social movements – both progressive and conservative – and the general richness of memes and viral content found on the platform, Twitter is culturally relevant enough to keep it buoyant for the next year at least.
One addition that I personally laud is the ‘Moments’ feature, which has served to slow down the slew of news that goes through the platform and capture key, well, moments.
Marketing with a purpose will be all the rage
Content marketing is all about providing some sort of information or entertainment that your ideal audience values, pulling them to you rather than pushing your business on them. ‘Purpose-driven’ marketing is about identifying that value and enacting something to benefit it. It’s essentially marketing that supports a cause your audience finds worthy.
The amount of content online is staggering, and the more there is, the more desensitised we become to media. Purpose-driven marketing stands out because it has a real-world effect, it appeals to people’s activism (that conveniently ties in with some type of purchase) and it shows a brand cares about more than just its sales.
A good example of this is from interior décor company Banbayu. Harnessing the general hype around Black Friday, it offered consumers the chance to donate their discount to a charity they work with and create content around.
While predictions have been tremendously subverted this year, that’s not going to stop us sharing what we think will hit big in the industry over the next twelve months. If you have your own predictions, tweet us and let us know.