As another year comes to a close (where did it go?) we take a look at what 2017 has in store for us?
In a nutshell, we see 2017 as the year when digital marketing comes of age. Where over 70% of all internet traffic will be video and the ‘convergence’ of web, video and social media will be the hot topic for most businesses.
So where do we start?
Looking back at 2016, this was the year that mobile devices and TV’s got bigger. Smart phones became almost mini tablets and large screen TV’s effectively turned the living room into a personal Cineworld (but without the kids and popcorn).
It was also the year that mobile video really took off, especially among younger viewers, who chose it as their ‘first screen’ This was influenced by the fact that around 50% of all video views are now on a mobile device.
There is no doubt mobile is the future. This is borne out by the United Nations who say that over 50% of the world will have access to broadband by the end of 2017, citing it as ‘the fastest growing technology in human history’.
In 2017, this convergence of technology will mean that video (from TV advertising to livestreaming) will be viewed across all device not just one. This is something that some mainstream broadcasters, such as Sky and Channel 4, already recognise. They’ve ensured that all output is ‘all in one place, designed from the ground up’ while others are struggling to monetise their delivery output.
2016 also saw the battle of the Livestreamers with Twitter, Facebook and You Tube all sparring up to be the platform of choice for live video broadcasting. No outright winner yet but plenty of bruised losers slumped in the gutter.
For example, Meerkat pulled the plug, during the year, losing its investors $12m, despite launching a month before Twitter owned Periscope and Blab, who claimed to have 3.9m daily users also called it a day. Both casualties of early adoption and not fully understanding the fickle nature of the marketplace.
‘Build it and they will come’ might have worked for Kevin Costner but is unlikely to be an effective strategy for creating a sustainable marketing platform. Meerkat’s CEO, Ben Rubin, who is no stranger to live streaming, said his platform failed because it lacked consistency while Blab’s Shaan Puri claimed that most live streams were boring and did not engage with their audience.
He says, ‘the struggle is to show something that is truly awesome – and now. In my opinion, Twitch is really the only platform that has so far got it right, streaming live games’.
However, even with these early casualties, indications are that 2017 does appear to the year for a live streaming revolution, certainly Mark Zuckerberg seems to think so. He is banking on the decline of TV viewing (especially by 18-24 yr olds) to spur live streaming into becoming an integral part of social media. Something that comes out loud and clear from their current TV advertising.
He backs this up with recent research, that found viewers watch live streams x3 times longer and comment x10 times more than regular video. He also points out that around 3000 people are, at any one time, watching the NASA live stream from the International Space station.
So what does this mean for us?
It means that just because we can does not necessarily mean we should. We are constantly bombarded with content, much of it irrelevant and uninteresting. To grab our attention businesses have to work hard to create ‘awesome’ content that people actually want to see.
Take them behind the scenes, give them an exclusive peak of your new product / service, tell them about the latest gizmo that will help their business but whatever you do, ensure you engage with your audience. This will help create more followers, extra shares and positive customer feedback, all leading to increased sales.
What else can we look forward to in 2017?
What about augmented reality?
During the summer of 2016, the marketing media was full of AR being the hottest ticket in town. Admittedly, this was based largely on the phenomena of Pokemon Go where, in the first 3 weeks of its launch, the app. was downloaded 50 million times on Android alone.
Launched in July, it was hard not to miss hordes of people running around trying to capture a Pikachu. However, by the middle of August it had lost a third of its daily users and by September had seen its daily downloads decline from a peak of 27 million to less than 700,000.
A summer fad as far as the game is concerned but does this mean augmented reality is dead as a marketing tool?
Not according to the experts. According to those in the know. AR will be embraced by a diverse number of sectors in 2017. These include consumer packaging, retailing, healthcare, architecture as well as entertainment and events. A case of ‘watch this space’.
However,the one thing that underpins all marketing success is listening to what people (are trying to) tell you. Whether it’s game players as in the case of Pokemon Go, users of live streaming platforms or endorsements from satisfied customers.
One area that is likely to see a major sea change, despite what Apprentice finalist Jessica Cunningham may say, is the paying of celebrities to endorse your products. In 2017, it is expected that this practice will become even less effective as a marketing tool.
Consumers understand that such endorsements are rarely believable and are certainly not a barometer of quality and reliability. There is now much more of a reliance on social media influencers prior to making a purchase.
This is becoming equally relevant to both B2b and B2C markets as the role of decision makers’ and ‘consumer’ become increasingly blurred. Businesses now realise that it’s especially important to engage their audience with meaningful conversations, that are relevant and topical, rather than aiming for large number of followers and volume mentions by high profile celebrities and prolific bloggers.
Finally, is 2017 the year when Print hands over to digital as the dominant media platform?
Not yet, is the answer.
However, as traditional media becomes less relevant and social media increasingly becomes the ‘mouthpiece’ of the influencer, there is a definite need for businesses to realign their media metrics. Previously, the number of viewers or readers was the primary acknowledgement of success. Today, it’s all about engagement with the target audience, via interactive content, sharing, feedback and click throughs.
So does this mean traditional media is dead?
Even with the growth of digital platforms, research from Nielsen indicates that print is far from dead. They found that consumers are embracing both and while newspapers still remain largely a print medium, for example, the Sun and Daily Mail still sell around 1.5m copies each day, savvy publishers have become multi-platform content providers. For example, the Times has a print circulation of 404,000 and 400,000 paid subscribers while others (such as the Independent and the local ‘South Yorkshire Times’) have moved totally on line.
So will this decline follow through for magazines in 2017?
Not necessarily. It’s true that average UK magazine circulations dropped around 5% in 2016, but some titles actually grew sales. Surprisingly news and current affairs was one sector. For example, in 2016, Private Eye saw its highest circulation in 30 years and even Readers Digest gained 15% more readers.
In fact, over 60 UK magazines (and this does not include local publications) increased their readership in 2016. Admittedly a lot of this was due to aggressive marketing such as free pick-ups or slashing the cover price, a tactic that helped Cosmo grow its circulation by 57% year on year.
The success of print magazines largely depends on the demographics and locality. Local magazines such as Sheffield’s ‘Exposed’ – aimed at the (18 – 35) clubbing and culture market has a print circulation of 10,000 and 17,000 on line subscribers while other Publishers such as Bauer feel that 13 – 18 year olds don’t read print and are consequently moving print titles such as M and Twist to digital only.
So to summarise:
Watch this space regarding the widespread use of new technology such as AR and VR, video content is now viewed on multiple devices so audience profiling becomes even more important, live streaming will be dominated by the big three and become a seamless part of social media communication and relevant and topical content (nothing changes) continues to be king.