As digital continues to grow and evolve, staying ahead of the curve will ensure your business not only gets an advantage but ultimately succeeds in the ever-changing landscape.
Evolution and growth are key hallmarks in the era of digital marketing, and simply keeping up won’t ensure success. Staying ahead, however, can give great pay-off for your business. Here are some surprising trends you may want to apply for your marketing efforts this year.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) goes Mainstream
AI is changing the way we live daily, and it will only grow from there. It still has tons of untapped potential, especially in business. According to Daniel Newman,
“So much power remains in AI—in everything from customer service and robotics to analytics and marketing. Companies will continue to use AI to surprise, connect, and communicate with their customers in ways they may not even appreciate or realize. This includes faster, cheaper, and smarter automation of everything from emails and content generation to industrial manufacturing.”
To see the growth in AI in the coming year, Thomson Reuters lists down their 2018 AI predictions from smarter cars to sonnet-writing AIs.
The Longevity of Native Advertising
Native advertising continues to reinvent itself to stay strongly relevant and is even predicted to drive more than 74% of all ad revenue by 2021 (DeMers, 2017). Commissioned stories are unobtrusive, intuitive, and feel more believable than ads. With data-driven information from AI and machine learning, “the most recent reinvention of native advertising bridges the gap between native and real-time, data-driven advertising. Publishers and marketers can come together to offer high-quality content, enhanced relevancy and unobtrusive advertisements at scale.” (Xaxis, 2016)
In connection with this trend, areas within native advertising will also experience growth, such as brands creating their own native advertising editorial teams (instead of outsourcing them to online publishing companies or ad agencies, showing their willingness to invest a lot more as well as the foreseeable e longevity of this trend), more native ads in the form of videos, and standardized mobile ad design (Abelin, 2018).
A few case studies that show exemplary native advertising are Under Armour with Michael Phelps and Apartment Therapy x The Mindy Project.
Popularization of Integrated and Multi-channel Marketing
Source: CDMG Inc.
More and more business will integrate their campaigns combining everything from direct mail, email, Facebook ads, banner ads, Amazon ads, pre-roll videos, and landing pages (DMU Team, 2018). This execution uses optimized data which gives the customer a seamless experience from any touch point (usually starting from an ad, email, or social) to the final point of purchase (landing page). While most companies have different touch points and advertise on them, rarely do those ever make a whole cohesive story; rather they are just advertisements shown on different platforms. An integrated multi-channel campaign will tie everything neatly together and will make the consumer believe and invest in the company, product, or campaign.
A notable example of the leader of this trend is the award-winning outdoor retailer REI’s #OptOutside campaign.
Augmented Reality (AR) over Virtual Reality (VR)
While we thought that VR is the trend of the future, both augmented and virtual reality rank well in Google searches (Forer, 2018). It’s surprisingly AR that we’ll be seeing more in 2018. Simply put, AR is a cost-effective alternative to VR and easier to use and learn in a professional context (Newman, 2018). It’s also something most consumers are already familiar with because of social media image filters. AR is expected to reach $117.4 billion growth by 2022 (Hall, 2017).
There have been a good number of campaigns centered around Augmented Reality over the years, with brands like Coca-Cola, Pepsi Max, and Lacoste using AR.
Conversational Commerce as a Standard Practice
Conversations are a keystone of the future of consumer technology (Cheung, 2017) as seen in the proliferation of chatbots and social media teams. This direct connection builds rapport between customer and brand and is a great way to convert to sales. Automated platforms can drive the transaction, especially on easily accessible social platforms.
This trend has come a long way from Starbucks’ simple Tweet a Coffee Program to a more personal and targeted experience from like the E-Bay Shopbot where customers can search and buy products, filter according to price and popularity, or send a photo to get personalized results (Mool, TJ). What’s surprising is that this trend is not only here to stay, but is predicted to become mainstream or a standard for retail businesses.
According to Mai-Hanh Nguyen of Business Insider,
Shopping chatbots will continue to improve in the coming years. Chatbot architecture and design will evolve to the point that shopping bots will become standard for retail. But there are numerous applications for chatbots across a variety of sectors.
To read more about this trend, check out What’s Conversational Commerce and Why You Should Do it.
Hyper-Targeting and Hyper-Personalization
Source: CDMG Inc.
In this time, for ads to be noticed, they need to be hyper-personalized and hyper-targeted. Hyper-targeting is applied anywhere from SMS, social media ads, across different devices and platforms, and even location. This trend will continue and will likely be refined even more in 2018, if you can imagine that! This will be done through even more advanced data modeling that lets companies narrow and target the perfect market that will actually make a purchase from them, dubbing it The Perfect Prospect (DMU Team, 2018).
More “Cash-less” Payment Systems
New methods of payment are continually on the rise, especially as we transition to a generation who no longer carry wallets or cash (DMU Team, 2018).
Apple Pay and Samsung Pay are working on becoming worldwide methods of payment. Meanwhile, locally in the last quarter of 2017 gearing up for this year, mobile payment efforts had a visible increase in the Philippines with PayMaya using Facebook Messenger as a platform for bills payment and GCash being used in Ayala Malls and Cinemas. GCash is even looking to increase their users to 10 million.
Investing in Live Events
Perhaps the most surprising is the traditional live event. Live events “facilitate relationships and community building” and enables brands to have a venue “where they have complete control over the environment and messaging” (Givner, 2016). Live events go hand-in-hand with organic social media efforts, through the use of real-time videos, photos, and hashtags which means Brands get stronger engagement and a wider reach.
A few local events that have been used for marketing efforts are music festivals like Wanderland and Paradise, local festivals like Sinulog, and musical productions with Globe Live.
As digital advertising evolves, it becomes more personal, tailored to the individual, and thus customer-centric. In an increasingly technologically advanced space, it’s surprising—yet plain to see that consumers are looking for a genuine connection with brands.