The past 12 months have certainly been eventful in the digital world, with a number of developments that are expected to play a significant role in shaping marketing for years to come. The key takeaways we should remember from 2016 are:
- Online advertising spend has overtaken TV. For the first time, global ad spend on the internet has totaled more than television advertising. Online video advertising has now doubled since 2013 to £5 billion.
- Mobile is on the march. The percentage of web visits on desktop and laptops has dropped by nine points to 56 percent while browsing on mobile phones has soared by 21 percent, significantly closing the gap on PCs to stand at 39 percent of all web hits.
- Live video stream has arrived. The importance of online video has been growing for the past couple of years, and in 2016 it accounted for half of all mobile web traffic. That has been given a significant boost by the rapid emergence of live video streaming, first by specialist services like Periscope and Meerkat, and now brought into the social mainstream by the arrival of Facebook Live.
- Social has diversified. Whether it is e-commerce on Facebook or Twitter or advertising on Snapchat and Instagram, social platforms have entered the marketing mainstream with nearly all leading services now providing a suite of business services. Spend on social has increased to 14 percent of total marketing spend and can be expected to keep rising.
What to Expect in 2017
Some of the trends that dominated 2016 will continue to shape digital marketing through the coming year. What we can expect is the use of increasingly sophisticated technologies which will add value to the interaction between brand and customer.
From Live to Immersive
Live video streaming announced itself in 2016 and should be a priority for marketers seeking to keep up with consumer trends in 2017. Faster connection speeds will iron out glitches in delivering smooth streams to mobile devices, while brands will be keen to explore advertising options in this new and exciting space.
But that will not be the end of video innovation in 2017. Shoppable film is a natural evolution in content marketing, marrying high-quality films packaged as entertainment with e-commerce - viewers can simultaneously purchase as they watch. The idea was a high profile success for Ted Baker in its spy-themed collaboration with Guy Ritchie.
Another hot trend in video could be the development of immersive content. With virtual reality headsets becoming increasingly popular, the development of 360o video offers a new dimension for brands to engage their audiences.
Native advertising is nothing new, but its importance to digital marketers could be on the rise. Although online took the largest share of total advertising spend for the first time in 2016, the click-through rate for display advertising was 0.6 percent, with more than half of the internet users saying that they will not click an ad because they don’t trust them.
Given those statistics, marketers have to be creative in how they present advertising online. Native advertising is about effectively hiding the fact that it is an advertisement at all, blurring the lines with content.
Augmented Reality (AR)
AR exploded into public consciousness in the summer of 2016 with the overnight success of the Pokémon Go app. With 650 million downloads within 80 days of launch, the game has brought to notice the potential AR has to engage audiences, especially on mobile. Digital marketers will be keen to cash in on this potential with imaginative branded AR offerings.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The rise of Virtual Assistants like Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa means AI is now part of the mainstream when it comes to accessing the internet. For marketers, this demands fresh thinking in areas like SEO and ensuring websites are optimized for the way people search and browse online using their voice.
AI also presents brands with new opportunities for interacting with customers. Chatbots are growing in popularity for providing one-to-one interaction with their customers, and as AI develops, those dialogues can become more and more personalized and responsive.
The Future is Near
We can expect some real technological innovations in 2017. With futuristic technologies like Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence ready to go mainstream, brands can now add a certain depth to their brand experiences in a way that was never possible before.
The evolution of video will lead to brands fully embracing the interactive opportunities of live streaming and immersive content to capture audience imagination the way television and film have for half a century. Let’s stay tuned for 2017!
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