The following is a guest contributed post by Ivan Guzenko, the CEO of SmartyAds.
Marketing, for the most part, deals with the change. Successful marketing involves following the trends and timely adjustments to the strategy. The optimal overall marketing strategy is to observe the change of trends, sometimes pulling out the right one, but at the same time staying true to the corporate style.
So here are five major trends that will rule the digital marketing industry in 2018.
Trend 1: Blockсhain
Today the term ‘blockchain’ is mostly associated with the bitcoin. But in fact, this is the technology which made the cryptocurrency possible, and not vice versa. All of its benefits can be used in marketing. This year, blockchain is pouring into digital-marketing, and the following year has all the chances to increase this tempo.
As of now, there is no way for an advertiser or publisher to determine the amount of additional fees. And since blockchain is the technology that provides a transparent, instantaneous and indisputable record of transactions, it actually can ensure that there are no hidden fees and cuts. There are initiatives from IAB working towards cutting down on fake ad-requests for domains, who actually make it possible to provide a mechanism to enable content owners to declare who is authorized to sell their inventory. Even though they still have a long way to go, it looks like a huge leap in the right direction towards solving the industry’s transparency challenge.
There also are other solutions out there. For instance, SmartyAds has already launched White Label Ad Stack, which is a “Lego constructor” at its core for building Blockchain based Digital Marketing products, such as SSPs, DSPs, OTT and many more.
Blockchain is a big step towards the future of ad industry, as it can change the relationship between the client, advertiser and advertising platforms, while at the same time providing transparency of transactions, and its integration will help face the growing marketing needs. When one understands blockchain, its advantages become obvious. Blockchain will help to prevent the sale of counterfeit inventory, conduct safe transactions without a third party, and place any data in the blockchain so that it can not be deleted or edited without the user’s consent
Trend 2: Video
The growth of online video is staggering. According to The Wall Street Journal, the consumption of online video has increased tenfold between 2011 and 2016, and this rapid growth will not slow down. Moreover, online video is ahead of cable TV among teenagers and young viewers. For companies who target for the younger generation, video marketing strategy is a must to succeed.
Although, there is a problem. Digital media industry suffers from the amount of the clean up of the digital ad supply chain needed, with all the publishers, brands, agencies and ad tech vendors involved. Currently, a buyer can’t know for sure if they are buying display inventory that has been repackaged as video. It actually sums up to the transparency issue.
Such already existing solutions as Ads.Cert give publishers more control and a possibility to assure their customers that they are buying from the authorized sellers, and get what they pay for. Ads.cert is one more step toward full transparency in digital ad transactions, and it will also likely be a big 2018 talking point.
Another reason video continues to rise in popularity is that it enables brands to connect with consumers on an emotional level. This new video age we are about to step in is marked by the growing effectiveness of interactive ads — also called engagement or immersive ads. A number of companies are rethinking the standard banner, using 360-degree video. You don’t even need a headset to create or engage with 360 videos, which are easily played on smartphones and are frequently used for advertising. Thanks to the immersive nature of the technology, 360 video content catches more views, shares, and subscribers than standard video content.
Augmented reality and virtual reality are another video-related trends to be incorporated into advertising experiences.
Trend 3: Virtual or Augmented reality
Although as to date there is no widespread application of VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) in Internet marketing, this is certainly a trend that will take an increasing share in the content of leading brands. In this case, the technology itself is only a carrier, and the content depends on the company itself.
Today we can observe the VR market transforming and becoming more massive due to the appearance of new available VR-devices from Google and Samsung, as well as the active spread of low-cost solutions like Google Cardboard which are also used in marketing.
It’s evident that companies are beginning to test the waters and trial different interactive video formats and experience, yet the projection for AR revenue by 2020 is set to outweigh VR by $120 billion. For instance, Apple announcing their iPhone 8 and iPhone X provides users with new augmented reality experiences. Therefore more social channels will plan on introducing new ways of integrating AR into their platforms. The use of mobile AR provides a niche and and engaging way for marketers to reach their target audience.
Even if companies are not yet ready to adapt their materials to virtual or augmented reality, they will have to improve the quality of the content if they want to keep up with those who use VR/AR tech. Interactive graphics, video and applications will not only help brands develop a more engaging marketing strategy, but will also become a springboard for future experiments with VR and AR.
The experts predict that by 2020, total revenues in the VR and AR market will reach $150 billion.
Trend 4: Artificial Intelligence
Content creators believe that AI will be able to transform their work in 2018. Predictive analytics, voice processing, and algorithm generation will allow making more thoughtful and effective materials for attracting people. Machine learning has already made an impact in healthcare and fraud detection, with PayPal using predictive technology to fight against money laundering. In 2018, it’s going to take the marketing world by storm, assisting automated data visualization as well as content management and analysis.
In the next five years, half of the texts will be created by machines, while humans’ duties will consist of being in charge and making necessary corrections. Large publishers, for example, Associated Press, already use the content created by the machines to increase the speed of information released.
In the creative fields, the AI breakthrough can also be conducted in the nearest future. Even now we see how Google’s artificial intelligence composes musical works. Accordingly, in the near future, the entire creative component of marketing services can switch from people to machines who don’t need to take time for an inspiration. This no more seems so fantastic as it did even five years ago.
97% of business leaders feel that the future of marketing will consist of human marketers working in collaboration with machine learning-based automation entities. Though there won’t be any robot invasion yet. Instead, machines will simplify our work with the target audience.
Trend 5: Influencer Marketing
According to the statistics 90% users trust the opinion of a field authority, while advertising slogans are credited by only 33% of the audience. The reason that influencers are trusted by their audiences is that these audiences have relationships and trust built up with these individuals.
Internet users whose audience is from 1000 to 100 thousand subscribers are 4 times more likely to receive comments than “celebs” with millions of followers. These micro-sized influencer category usually occupy a certain niche that lets one choose an applicant who’s most suitable for the brand’s goals.
We have already seen the digital advertising landscape evolving in 2017, and 2018 seems to be taking it even further. With digital at the very core of our society and economy, it continues to deeply impact the marketing industry. Focus on video content, artificial intelligence, influencer marketing and new technologies like blockchain and VR/AR will be the key.
This year saw the already existing approaches unfold: influencer marketing remains a useful strategy, and video goes to the next level. As 360 video and virtual reality merge, 2018 will also see an increase of shoppable video content. Such content will allow brands to turn social video views into direct response sales, dramatically increasing conversion.
Technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain are going from “good to know” to “need to know.”, and new content formats like AR and VR, together with blockchain solutions like Ads.Cert, are likely to go mainstream.
Artificial Intelligence is credible to take over: the use of AI may reshape retargeting strategies. As this technology gets smoother, it is possible that even more brands will embrace AI solutions to better results.
Even though, unknown pitfalls and surprises can await the digital marketing world in the year to come, as technology and the expectations of consumers change. The whole system may change drastically. But this hyper-converged marketing landscape gives rise to new opportunities. 2018 promises to be an impressive year for digital marketing.