Digital trends in 2017

The year will witness continued investment towards driving the true potential of technological innovations

Updated: Dec 15, 2016 09:51:13 AM UTC
Photo: Shutterstock

What’s hot in digital seems to be changing rapidly. While the cool get cooler, some simply wear off after much hype and anticipation (case in point: Pokémon Go). If smartphone and internet usage statistics are to be believed, India is quickly becoming a digital-first nation where the adoption levels towards new trends are much higher. Consumer attention these days is rapidly shifting and new, lucrative routes towards using digital are building up. In times like these where opportunities for digital success are in abundance, the need to constantly evolve or provide value has become vital for organisations.

2016 has been the year of fresh methods to showcase content, and video has been the clear winner across various categories. The seamless integration of interactive technology such as Virtual Reality (VR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), wearables, live streaming, drones, GoPros has been promising innovations that have been much spoken of in 2016, and the world awaits with  bated breath for what is about to unfold in the years to come. 2017 will witness continued investment towards driving the true potential of technological innovations, with a balanced approach towards engaging the consumer and driving worldwide impact. Organisations need to gear up and adopt the right strategies that will drive value and sustain consumer attention.

Here’s a list of a few marketing and technology integrations scheduled for 2017 that will make the journey more exciting:
Videos will get more views: Market analysts predict digital video consumption will replace television in the years to come, and the return on investment sure seems to make it worthwhile and a near possibility. Brands will invest in gaining insights on what truly engages with audiences, backed by predictive tools being implemented by leading portals. These will be able to understand the success metrics of a video even before it’s launched, driving higher levels of strategy and investment in video creation and amplification. Video content is enabling digital agencies to leverage their expertise and expand horizons by becoming content producers, curating personalised stories in the form of web series, live video streaming and micro experience videos.

Personalised content production soars: Moving away from stock footage and the repeated usage of the same imagery, the future winning brands on digital will create personalised content that tells their story uniquely, each time. Real imagery results in twice the amount of engagement and evangelism for brands, while fresh imagery engages the same audiences six times more. Marketers are slowly gaining insights on this and are acquiring partnerships with personalised visual content production agencies with an omni-channel attitude and a digital-first strategy.

Mobile continues to grow, with regional being the core: India is expected to overtake the US as the second-largest smartphone market next year with robust annual growth, says a Morgan Stanley research report. The use of mobile marketing continues to expand with Google broadening its advertising offerings towards mobile apps, and consumers searching and buying constantly on the move. Regional marketing will impact not just Facebook usage but also advertising in order to increase Google and SEO ranks, providing content of higher relevance to different segments. According to a report by MindShift Metrics, the number of local language users is expected to increase to 42 percent by December 2016, with a 22 percent growth in active internet users. The need to prepare, produce and distribute content to fit the format, channel, the time and place for current and target customers is vital to the expansion.

Increased focus on technological innovations: Virtual Reality and augmented reality right now is a flowing edge field, but in 2017, expect it to go mainstream and be the game changer it promised to be. In 2016, we witnessed products such as Sony PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift making all the noise, along with mobile app and game developers creating content to keep consumers passionate. With brands aspiring to create new experiences and personalised sensations, with the desire to move their status to a preferred brand, it has seen acceptance in real estate, travel too. The game changer, however, in 2017 will be when VR gets serious and creates a paradigm shift in the health care and education sector. Add to this, the introduction of Artificial Intelligence which will be able to deliver insights in a new manner and perform on the basis of each element learnt. AI and machine culture will be more and more fixed into everyday things such as home appliances, speakers and health care equipments, with a simple vision to make life easier.

One agency, many partners: Gone are the days when agencies worked towards building all the talent in-house to cater to client needs or clients worked with multiple agencies to drive the same business purpose. Clients want a one-stop shop that can understand the overall business and connect them with the right solutions, irrespective of whether it is in-house or through experts brought in. Moving forward, the need to embed a client’s ethos as an agency and recruiting additional experts to do the job right is the way things will move and provide for the greater good.

Digital outsourcing solutions: Businesses understand the need to build on digital marketing teams in-house but understand the challenges of not being able to provide guidance, education and constantly allowing a resource to evolve through the latest happenings in the industry. Hence, like public relations, human resource management, digital outsourcing is seeing a growing demand. While they aren’t replacing agencies, they become the custodians of the brand and the agency, being able to seamlessly tie-in requirements with solutions, coping with the fast paced demands of the digital world.

Social media command centres: A social media command centre is a dedicated space for a company’s social team to monitor and engage in social conversations around the brand and industry. It is responsible for real-time monitoring of trends and allows brands to capitalise on emotions and opportunities. With an integrated approach towards ensuring departments such as customer care, public relations, sales and marketing are on board, the focus of the command centre is towards implementing a strong crisis management plan while simultaneously creating conversations around opportunities heard. Brands such as Marriott International, Dell have been leading command centres that serve as best practices and Indian brands are inquiring about implementing the same too. With the increasing use of social media as a customer care platform and with consumers getting wiser and stronger, command centres are seeing acceptance from brands that are serious about being a part of the digital realm.

Creating sales opportunities: By making greater use of social analytics, brands are able to drill down and gain valuable insights. Organisations that are looking for a viable parameter can use social analytics to identify patterns in customer sentiment. This enables them to gauge their marketing effectiveness. There’s no shortage of recommendations or products on the market to help us measure social analytics but what we will really need is collaboration between apps, networks and platforms. The need to leverage data to drive business value in the form of footfalls, website clicks, and eventual sales has become extremely vital and social media platforms realise this, and are putting in increasing efforts to help businesses see value for every penny spent, moving beyond outreach and focusing more on ROI. You will start noticing more “buy” buttons on social media, allowing shoppers to make instant purchase decisions and buying directly from social networks rather than going to a separate ecommerce site. The investment by brands to drive sales directly through social media is expected to increase two-fold in 2017.

With the country getting smarter, and brands understanding the power of digital towards impacting business, everybody’s getting serious and investing into making a difference. The implementation of insights to understand consumers will continue to be the key towards ensuring longevity of the brand.

If you have any predictions for 2017, I would love to hear them.

- Zafar Rais, CEO, MindShift Interactive

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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