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Predictions for the hottest 2017 trends

Monday 20, Feb 2017

Last month, Heather Mollins from Seven Communications spoke at the first 2017 PRIA event on trends set to impact our industry.

1) Good storytellers will outsmart big advertising budgets

Brands that prioritise a strong, emotive and connecting narrative will win over brands with deep pockets, when it comes to marketing success.

Nine out of ten people, when given the choice, will skip an advert or fast forward when they’re time-shift viewing.  However, brands that create a strong narrative to build an emotional connection with their audiences will reach and influence them.  

One of our favourite brand storytelling examples (and a real tear jerker), is British Airways #visitmum campaign.  The airline created a digital documentary case study of an ex-pat son’s surprise reunion with his mother in India. Distributed exclusively online, the video has been viewed over 1.7 million times on YouTube and helped increase ticket sales on the NYC to India route by 65 per cent.

2) Live video streaming will become a common source of news content for media

YouTube was built on a foundation of videos that capture real, unfiltered moments. Now social media is taking it to the next level by offering video content in real-time.

Live streaming video was first made popular by Twitter’s Periscope and then Facebook Live. Instagram is now testing its own live video option.

Mainstream news sources are citing Facebook Live when covering major events - and we predict this will become far more prevalent in 2017.  In addition to news, the sports industry will continue to embrace live video streaming. Last year, the NFL announced that it selected Twitter as its exclusive partner to deliver a live digital stream of Thursday Night Football to a global audience for free.

3) We will see more great examples of brands embracing virtual reality and augmented reality

From a social media perspective, Snapchat brought the idea of augmented reality into the social sphere whilst Pokémon Go turned it into a 2016 sensation.  

We predict that 2017 is going to mark a turning point in the way audiences interact with, and consume, VR and AR content. Part of this will be fuelled by significant improvements in immersive devices and software.  We will see brands with skin in the game normalise using a headset, making it socially acceptable.

In addition, we anticipate Facebook (who have admitted they are experimenting with AR), will launch their own experience.

4) Influencer marketing will play a renewed and central role in the marketing mix

This year is predicted to mark a major milestone for digital advertising as it surpasses that of TV. So where will those dollars go? Considering the challenges marketers face with bot fraud, ad blocking, social algorithms and general skepticism, influencer marketing will play a renewed and central role in the marketing mix for 2017.

Influencer marketing isn't new, but it will mature in 2017 as we see brands not only partnering with digital savvy Snapchatters and YouTubers but co-creating original content that can't be found anywhere else.

5) More brands will search for higher meanings

One of our favourite quotes from the book Start With Why by Simon Sineak is: “people don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it”.

In 2017, we will see more brands embrace purpose driven marketing by connecting audiences to the idea that their brand exists for something larger than what they are selling.

Classic examples of purpose driven marketing done right include Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’, Body Shop’s ‘Enrich, Not Exploit’,  Nike’s ‘Everyone is an Athlete’, Lorna Jane ‘Live, Nourish, Believe’ and Apple’s ‘Empower Creative Exploration and Self-Expression’.

6) We will continue to learn and hone our skills in data-driven marketing

Like it or loath it, data driven marketing will be a big trend in 2017.

Data has the potential to be a marketer's most valuable resource. With the right information in hand, it’s possible to glean impactful insights to inform strategies and creative ideas.  Data can also help create scalable, repeatable marketing processes - giving brands the tools to let their campaigns run on autopilot so they can focus on the creative, testing and optimisation.

The challenge, however, is that few marketers have the expertise to work with data effectively.  But there is good news: the majority of marketers are stuck in the same boat. And, we’re all learning together.

7) Everyday brands embracing the Internet of things

Should your thermostat talk to you? How about a refrigerator that informs you when you’re low on milk, and then gives you the option to place an order immediately?

Everyday objects are beginning to connect to the internet, and this trend is going to open doors for brands and marketers to integrate with the everyday lives of consumers. By innovating products and embracing technology, brands are also creating new and exciting news to share with audiences.

Watch this trend closely, because it’s going to boom!

8) Branded marketing will become more sophisticated and monetised

We know what you’re thinking - branded content is NOT new.   And you’re right - it isn’t.  Soap operas were called exactly that because FMCG brands funded the shows in order for them to reach housewives.

But what is new is the way brands are starting to use and monetise branded content.  In 2017, we will see more brands create their own exclusive content - or making content to on sell. The classic example is Red Bull and also in the fizzy drink space is Creators League - Pepsi Cos in-house content agency.

9) Successful brands will mix robots with the human touch

Chatbots, or digital messaging applications, came on the scene in 2011 using responsive technology to help with customer service.

The benefits of chatbots are that organisations can close the loop with a customer in an efficient and automated way.  

Whilst the technology is tempting for many customer service led businesses, we predict the brands that get the right mix of robot versus human touch will increase customer satisfaction and word-of-mouth.

10) Integrated planning will become the norm

It might be shocking to some marketers that not all brands plan in an integrated way.

We predict that almost all organisations will become better integrated in 2017 by considering the role of each channel and the brand narrative within the context of our fragmented media and digital landscapes.

Organisations with multiple agencies will brief them together and expect an integrated response with each agency playing to its strengths.