The New Year is fast approaching, and marketing analysts have already been weighing in on what digital trends will dominate the industry in 2017.

The initial prediction: Global businesses will continue to rely heavily on mobile and online platforms to distribute messaging and advertising. The assumption underscores the need for marketers to personalize their consumer communication to succeed with what’s becoming, more and more, a tech savvy buyer demographic.

From the web to mobile apps, the following trends will reign supreme in the marketing world come 2017.

Video Will Continue to Thrive

Scroll through any social media feed and you’ll most likely see more photos and videos than text. The fact that consumers prefer video to long-form copy isn’t new, and we’re also finding that buyers are making decisions on whether to purchase products based on what they watch.

Video platforms are popular among those inclined to the social media sphere. On top of the appeal to young consumers, an uptick in live video capabilities (Facebook Live, Periscope) is allowing users to be “in the moment” with their content. The live feature is popular in that it allows viewers to give feedback (“like,” “share,” etc.) while viewing.

YouTube is one of the world’s most popular social media sites, and around 1 in 4 users say they watch branded videos.

AI And the Bot Revolution

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has already made its grand entrance into the digital world, most notably with Google Translate and other machine translation solutions. But in the marketing arena, the new technology will likely see an increase in “Bots” or other functions that interact with consumers in 2017.

Instant messaging with a bot or utilizing tools like voice recognition will become more common as the year goes on, improving the way consumers buy and interact with companies. We’ve reported on AI’s shortcomings before, but it probably won’t be long until the technology is refined to the point that it becomes a boon for marketers.

Although the U.S. is the frontrunner when it comes to demand and revenue in the bot industry, Asia is expected to see in an increase in chatbot growth in the near future.

Content Fit for All Devices

Consumers are most likely viewing content on more than one platform – those who shop on their laptop probably do the same on their phone, iPad and other devices. This means we’ll see companies try to integrate their online experience into a one-size-fits-all system that flows smoothly across all digital platforms.

Add to this the fact that the “wearable” device market is expected to exceed $4 billion in 2017, and marketers have another realm they need to create content for. Similarly, the need for content on more devices reiterates the fact that companies will have to develop multilingual marketing material to effectively reach a global audience.

Mobile continues to be a huge platform for marketers, especially in “emerging” countries according to numbers from Global Web Index. Stats from the site show the United Arab Emirates, Thailand and Malaysia to have populations in which more than one third of Internet users only access the web on their phones.

Augmented Reality

Consumers can expect a more involved advertising experience with their favorite products in 2017 thanks to augmented, or Virtual Reality (VR). Companies like Coca-Cola and McDonalds have already given VR a try and Volvo has used the feature to take potential buyers on a virtual test drive. Maybe the most obvious, recent VR success was Pokémon Go, which generated roughly $35 million within the first two weeks it was released.

These days, consumers look for the latest in immersive, digital experiences, and when the ability is there, buyers expect marketing firms to be on top of the latest developments in the new technology. The International Data Corporation released a prediction in November stating 30% of companies on the Forbes Global 2000 are expected to use VR as a marketing tool in 2017.

Native Advertising

With the abundance of information and ad content on the web, the digital age makes it difficult for marketers to produce advertisements that stick out. Native advertising is one way to make a company’s promotional material more appealing by embedding it in the content that surrounds it.

You might see a New York Times story in your Facebook feed, for example, that looks like a regular news link, but is labeled “sponsored.”  This is an example of native advertising. These native ads usually use content contained in a regular link, but are flagged as advertisements; sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. This trend has already become more common and we should expect more of the same in 2017.

The new strategy has already proven to be a popular marketing tool in the U.S. and native advertisement spending in Western Europe is anticipated to €13 billion by 2020.

A New Frontier

If there’s one thing marketers should take away from this list, it’s the fact that digital media is, and will continue to be, king. Companies need to be up to snuff when it comes to the social media game in order to produce content that resonates with their customers.

Taking the opportunity to engage customers on digital platforms to create a more personalized experience will be the key to success in 2017.

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Consulting Technology

Jake Schild

Jake Schild

A former newspaper reporter and native Minnesotan, Jake Schild is a staff writer in the marketing department at ULG.

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