Digital Progress in 2016 and Trends for 2017 – Part II

A summary review of the tech advances we saw in 2016 and their projected evolution into 2017

Consumer Outreach

Ubiquitous Ad Blockers

By now, it is no surprise to marketers the world over that consumers have grown leery of lazy push advertising, pop-up and sidebar ad placements and less-than-pertinent marketing messages that they are constantly being inundated with, no matter the medium or device. In 2016, the rise of pay-per-click ad shunning and ad blocker technology further proved that the only way to reach target audiences going forward will be by creating authentic, relevant and helpful messages that are timely and appropriately placed vs. force-fed to users.

With recent efforts by Google and Facebook to combat the dissemination of fake news, predatory or malicious content and ads, and to protect consumers from unscrupulous marketers, it is becoming evident that users and large tech companies will not stand for ruthless profiteering, but rather, become more intelligent in allowing consumer targeting with any messaging, organic or paid. Looking beyond and into 2017, the effectiveness of traditional outbound marketing will further diminish, urging companies to revisit their current marketing and media mixes, and to reinvest into content and tools that actually benefit those they want to reach.

Influencer marketing

Word-of-mouth and influencer marketing is an area that would naturally evolve as a result of the growing distrust in brand-led messaging and paid ads and the advances in ad-blocking technology. Research has shown that more than 75% of consumers research brands and products extensively before making a purchase decision and it will becoming increasingly common for them to consult influencers they trust for candid opinions on brands and products. This represents an opportunity for businesses to reach users in a different way and have their products highlighted more organically. The risk with this method is that it doesn’t always lead to the best products being promoted; rather the highest bidders tend to receive an unfair share of the seemingly genuine recommendations made by popular influencers.

Content is Still King

With ad blockers getting more sophisticated and users – more discriminating, it’s more important than ever for businesses to listen to their customers and truly understand them in order to create compelling, relevant content that informs and benefits, rather than just selling a product or service. Organisations must invest in carefully crafted pieces that resonate with their audiences and help them accomplish goals, all in line with a content strategy that is part of the bigger marketing direction. 

Trends to Watch in 2017

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

2015 was a promising year for the then fledging Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technology, with many new devices being unveiled and the first bits of content becoming commercially available. In 2016 conceptual hardware became mainstream, with Microsoft HoloLens, Facebook-owned Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, HTC Vive and their cheaper counterparts Samsung GearVR and Google Cardboard VR all hitting the shelves. 

Early adopter technology companies also began satisfying the appetite of users wanting to try and peruse this AR/VR technology by offering diverse content available across devices.  With some providers like Oculus Rift already offering a streaming site for their content, major players like Netflix, Amazon, Apple and Hulu can’t be far behind with their custom 3D content offerings and channels. 

Tools like virtual showrooms, stores and visual commerce technology, will further enable the rise in v-commerce (Virtual Commerce), reducing the cost of maintaining expensive physical showrooms and storefronts for some innovative brands. 

Pokemon Go proved that AR can, indeed, become mainstream, and although Nintendo failed to successfully capitalise on this global megatrend, they paved the way for other players to enter the market and do things differently. 

AI and Big Data

Last year, Google demonstrated their commitment to assisting organisations in making sense of the huge amounts of web metrics being collected by updating its webmaster guidelines and launching the Enterprise Marketing Analytics 360 suite, bringing even more actionable data to businesses using the product. They also updated the Google Analytics mobile app, including new features and KPIs.

Artificial Intelligence Getting Better at Knowing Us

Although AI has been a very conceptual field until recently, in 2016 we saw advances in machine learning and reasoning, which are starting to be more helpful to us in daily applications, such as contextual content, news, or product/service and provider recommendations, based on our history and habits. 

Google’s continued investment into the RankBrain algorithm learning artificial intelligence system is a testament to the growing utility of AI. The Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana and Apple’s Siri are getting to know us better as technology becomes more aware of our choices and habits, which will inevitably lead to better suggestions, predictions and recommendations as we go into 2017. 

Summing It Up

In 2017, smartphones are much more than a way of accessing the internet; they are completely overturning the way we interact with each other and penetrating every area of our daily lives. If your organisation is at the stage of trying to figure out how to optimise your website for mobile, you’re already late in the game. Being successful from now on will not be just about a robust mobile presence but about optimizing the way you engage and delight consumers in a mobile-dominated environment. 

Users in 2017 expect constant connectivity and the most relevant information about all aspects of their lives to be available at their fingertips, devices and preferred applications. Web 4.0 is no longer about a one-way avenue to accessing information, it’s the glue of our society and the next generations will not know the world outside of this ever-connected ecosystem. The consumers of today will no longer adjust to the preferences of organisations but make their own preferences known to brands. 

As a result, businesses need to improve their operations for connectivity and information sharing across the organisation and focus less on outbound strategies like paid advertising and brand-centric public relations. 

Figuring out which of the latest tech trends are worth jumping on can be challenging but the right technology partner can make this process less-than-overwhelming and assist in pinpointing the areas where your enterprise can achieve a competitive advantage. 

Contact PegusApps for an obligation-free discussion today. 

Copywriter: Ina Danova

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