The evolution of marketing in 2015

Consumers are more aware of the inherent value their data holds, and the onus is still on brands to deliver compelling, useful content to create a value exchange with consumers. 

The value exchange

As a result, 2015 will see stronger narratives emerge, driven by approaches like cross-device sequential storytelling (segmented campaigns revealed to the user incrementally each time they venture online) and increasing interactivity where the user plays a more active role in influencing content.

> See also: Next big thing: preparing for the Internet of Things in the enterprise

Delivering relevant content is becoming less dependent on Personally Identifiable Information (PII), with anonymised data proving just as efficient at providing context. In 2015 the value exchange will be less about who the user is and more about where they are and what they’re doing; providing the quality of content required to secure their attention as brands increasingly depend on contextual data pertaining to audience segments rather than individuals.

Advances in search, automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will create new opportunities for advertising

The Internet of Things is maturing, digital personal assistants like Siri and Cortana have put AI into the pockets of consumers, automating search through learning consumer behaviour patterns. As a result, 2015 will bear witness to a shift in interactions with personal technologies – based on anticipation of our needs, rather than by consumer-initiated signals. Search will still play a vital part in this process, providing the data needed to generate personalised, contextual results to the user.

The success of 2015’s campaigns will depend on figuring out how to market effectively to the machines that will act as gatekeepers to the digital consumer. Advertisers will need to develop new strategies that provide seamless integration with these AI enabled consumer experiences.

Contextual marketing initiatives become more prevalent as the Internet of Things (IoT) starts to deliver

Data shows that a host of variables impact the way content is interpreted by audiences. As such, engagement will increasingly be triggered by specific situations, such as location, device used, and specific tasks the user is engaged in. The growing maturity of the IoT is set to fuel this trend, providing the data required for context. Brands will need to understand and capitalise on technology capabilities across the IoT to both engage with tomorrow’s consumers and understand their behaviour.

Retailers are already implementing changes necessary to provide additional context, shrinking the online/offline divide as digital is increasingly merged with in-store experiences. Technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) are facilitating this – high street brands are deploying ‘magic mirrors’ that complement the fitting room experience, while L’Oreal’s Makeup Genius uses facial mapping technology to show users what cosmetics will look like on their face as they move. Both provide in-store actionable data that can inform contextual interactions. Consumers can expect more organisations to deploy these types of techniques in an increasing variety of ways, and for brand communications to become ever more relevant to their day to day lives.

Industry to address programmatic problems

Programmatic technology is undoubtedly changing the industry. However, it comes with a number of industry concerns ranging from the impact it has on creativity, to the quality of impressions it delivers for campaigns.

To date, the need for programmatic advertising to fit a standard model has somewhat limited the industry’s ability to innovative outside of a rigid set of pre-ordained parameters. This situation is set to change in 2015, we are already seeing the creation of new ad units that are both dynamic and able to deliver engaging content beyond the standard banner ad box.

We also expect to see programmatic inform the creative process in other ways. As an industry we’ll be smarter at using associated digital data to deliver better insights, providing a more informed platform from which to create innovative new brand engagements.

When it comes to quality, complaints have centred on problems associated with bots and fraud, including allocation of junk inventory or missing impressions. The industry will continue work to address this issue, with initiatives from the IAB and improved measurement tools set to improve the quality of impressions delivered by programmatic. Media owners will also look to tackle the problem internally – Microsoft Advertising, for example, has over 50 people globally dedicated to the task of ensuring the quality of its programmatic offering.

Agency models are set to evolve

There has been something of a disconnect between brands, agency disciplines and publishers in recent times. On the brand side this is illustrated by research findings that show 50% of CMOs have yet to partner with CIOs on strategies, a significant issue as technology increasingly dictates the shape of campaigns. Other problems include traditional planners failing to communicate effectively with agency buying desks, exacerbated by the fact that traditional buying, digital buying, programmatic trading, search buying and SEO are typically handled by separate teams.

> See also: CIOs and CMOs still struggle to deliver integrated digital marketing despite narrowing gap

Next year media owners will be looking to solve this issue by driving more strategic partnerships and delivering more value to their clients. In the case of programmatic and digital we will see the emergence of more holistic approaches that employ broader marketing strategies. This in turn will impact the role of the creative director. These predictions are perhaps somewhat optimistic but reflect our observations of the industry and the goals we ourselves will be working towards throughout the year.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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