The digital transformation is fundamentally changing how we communicate and how we deal with advertising. Yet how does this affect marketing? We’ve explored this topic intensively and highlighted four of the biggest trends.

Media trends

Brands must earn the attention of consumers

Our analyses show that successful marketing must not be driven by enthusiasm for new technologies; rather, it must remain focused on relevance and added value from the perspective of the user and consumer. Brands have to earn the attention of consumers now more than ever, but this is difficult in the face of inflexible structures and a lack of profound underlying data. We have to become more agile. The challenge lies in coordinating the channels in a way that generates a relevant story, despite an array of different responsibilities, departments and agencies.

This is where agile marketing comes in by focusing on the quick response to changing requirements. Only when we understand how consumers think, feel and act, as well as what they find informative and inspiring during their dynamic customer journey, can advertising and communication succeed in the long-term. Marketing needs to become more agile in order to get closer to consumers. Against this backdrop, four key marketing trends have emerged in 2017: moment marketing, customer intelligence, conversational commerce and mixed reality.

The four biggest marketing trends of 2017

1. Moment marketing: The right moment is crucial

Moment marketing is one of the media trends that will keep the media industry busy in the coming year. If the timing is off, the right advertising message gets lost in the flood of information. Only when we act dynamically can we succeed in reaching the user at the right moment with relevant – i.e. informative, inspiring or entertaining – content. Even if this approach is more current than ever, seizing on the hottest new trends is not a fundamentally new phenomenon. Without a doubt, the biggest challenge of moment marketing is identifying trends and responding to them as quickly as possible. Agile marketing demands close cooperation between all agencies and decision-makers, as well as fast decision making and flexible budgets.

bowie15 / istockphoto.com

bowie15 / istockphoto.com

2. Customer intelligence: Embrace your customer

Companies can only reap the true benefits of data, such as consumer behaviour, interests, ad delivery, demographic properties, CRM data, etc. if they filter out the right information and combine it intelligently. In order to minimise discrepancies between forecasts and real behaviour, to address the right users, and to correctly and precisely anticipate what they will do in the future, new developments are constantly needed. The three most important ones are programmatic advertising, digital out-of-home and addressable TV. Machines and new technologies can, however, only optimise existing data. Ultimately, it is humans that interpret this data and develop suitable avenues of communication and advertising. Here, the task is to boldly combine one’s creativity with the opportunities of programmatic advertising and to be free of any type of silo mentality.

3. Conversational commerce: Dialogue is the new marketing

In 2017, customer interaction will focus on real-time digital communications driven by artificial intelligence, mainly in the form of smart assistants and chatbots serving as interlocutors between companies and consumers. One example of the former is Alexa, Amazon’s smart assistant, which has been available in the German market for several months now. More and more possibilities are emerging for the integration of chatbots in advertising as a supplementary channel during the customer journey. Chatbots are an obvious marketing trend, and we expect to see them and smart assistants gaining a solid foothold in the long term. It does, however, remain to be seen to what extent German consumers’ reservations concerning data protection and privacy will impede the increasing use of these applications in the coming months. In addition, chatbots are certainly unlikely to replace personalised service, because the technology is not advanced enough and there will always be customers who prefer to communicate with a real person.

popartic / istockphoto.com

popartic / istockphoto.com

4. Mixed reality: reality is what we see. Isn’t it?

In 2017, customers will want to get the best of both worlds. They expect brands to offer them the advantages of the physical and virtual world, along with the benefits of the past and future. In an unprecedented way, technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will catapult interaction with customers into new, unimaginable dimensions, whereby the digital and physical layers are becoming one. 2017 will be (another) year of experimentation. Brands are experimenting with how they can use AR to offer their customers an ‘immersive and engaging’ experience similar to the way Pokémon Go has. The travel industry in particular could take advantage of the technology. What is important here is to make sure customers always see the added value. Rapid development is also showing up in the area of virtual reality. Much like AR, VR is particularly interesting for brands in the travel and consumer goods industries: new locations can be explored, products sampled, and clothing tried on – virtually. But VR will not only leave its mark on these sectors. Healthcare, manufacturing, education, and even the legal field, are using VR to make well-informed decisions and improve efficiency.

Any questions?

What is clear to us is that all of these media trends notwithstanding, the customer is and will remain king in 2017 – and not just at the point of sale. Advertising must be consistent and agile from the perspective of the consumer. Otherwise, even the biggest brands will sink in the flood of information and never be heard.