As we begin another year, it’s the perfect time to reflect on recent developments in key industries and look to the year ahead for emerging trends. Marketing is a particularly fast-moving, technology-driven industry, but it’s still important for marketing professionals, managers and business owners to be across what’s working and what’s new.
For 2018, key themes in marketing include the advancement of new technologies, including artificial intelligence, blockchain and virtual reality. But technology is only part of the puzzle. To reach new customers and engage with existing ones, brands need to be authentic and accessible. That’s why influencer content and multi-platform marketing are also showing strong growth.
Virtual and augmented reality
It seems as if virtual reality has been hyped as the next big thing for a long time now, but this time it really is just around the corner. There are several major players in the space, which means that headsets are coming down in price and becoming accessible for consumers.
It may be primarily used for media and entertainment at the moment, but as VR and AR technologies become more widespread, there are a number of implications for marketers. The first marketers to truly harness these technologies will be putting themselves ahead of the pack, but that will be short lived. Rather than seeing it as a way to stand out from the crowd, use VR to help consumers process their decision making and engagement levels. That means working in conjunction with human intuition and artificial intelligence to get the campaign focused on the things that matter.
Blockchain was big news in 2017 largely due to the huge spike in cryptocurrencies and especially Bitcoin. As people gain a greater understanding of what it does, its value to marketing technologies is also emerging and is likely to take hold in 2018. Blockchain technologies have the potential to disrupt how digital advertising is measured and delivered as long as the systems can overcome their current speed restrictions.
Salesforce research shows that 62% of marketers will be using artificial intelligence by 2018, with overall use growing by 50% or more over the next two years.
Big data is already helping marketers to collect and aggregate data points to develop strategy, while automated technologies deploy campaigns to targeted demographics. Artificial intelligence takes things one step further. It can detect and extrapolate patterns, even in unstructured data, to identify opportunities that marketers may not have spotted.
With continued growth in the Internet of Things and voice activated, connected devices, opportunities to use artificial intelligence and machine learning will explode in 2018. Niche products and laser focused campaigns will become a realistic aim as AI becomes more affordable.
Influencer content has elicited some mixed feelings in 2017, with some suggesting that the returns don’t make the often high cost worth it. It’s unlikely to fade away, though, and for good reason. Influencers are shown to boost engagement and offer a sense of authenticity to their followers that sets them apart from traditional advertising.
With 94% of marketers considering it effective in 2016, influencer budgets were predicted to double in 2017. Future projections suggest that the industry will experience five times more growth by 2021.
2018 trends will include brands testing out micro influencers instead of celebrity endorsements, as well as more holistic, reciprocal relationships between brands and influencers. These trends contribute to more organic content designed to increase engagement and trust.
Multi-platform marketing and integration
We give a lot of attention to determining whether Twitter is fading away, or if LinkedIn’s redesign means that it’s becoming more powerful as a marketing tool. What those analyses fail to recognise, however, is that the new generation of consumers aren’t loyal to any one platform.
Young millennials, and upcoming Generation Z consumers, are not only digital natives, they’re social media natives. Facebook has been around since 2004, when these 20-somethings were just children. As young adults, they use up to five screens a day and check multiple platforms as a matter of course.
Poor mobile UX will seriously disadvantage marketers trying to reach this group, who do most of their browsing on mobile devices. Marketers will need to consider how to provide a fluid experience across platforms, rather than putting all their advertising eggs in media basket.
Join the conversation
What marketing trends do you think are on the horizon? We’d love to hear them! Leave a comment below.
This article was written by Tanya Ashworth-Keppel on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources were used to compile this article: Brand Watch, Forbes, CMO and Entrepreneur.