The digital world is moving at pace, making looking ahead to what happens next an increasingly exciting proposition, with plenty of opportunities for curveballs to derail even the most seasoned marketing commentators.
Simon Landi, Managing Director of integrated digital development and marketing communications agency, Access, shares his top five predictions for the brand marketing and digital industry in 2019:
“There seems little doubt that 2019 will be the year that some long-standing digital and marketing trends and innovations (such as AI and voice search) will finally take their place in the spotlight, whilst the wider cultural landscape, including privacy and data issues, will continue to impact on brand relationships. But how will this all come together in 2019? Here are my predictions for the trends to watch this coming year.
Trend #1 - AI and machine learning gets deep and personal
“Personalisation has been the word on the marketing industry’s lips for the past few years - and with brands such as Netflix, Amazon and Spotify nailing the personalisation piece, it is something which customers have simply come to expect. So what next?
“For me, the enormous power of opportunity that exists with machine learning means that 2019 will be the year that personalisation steps beyond retail and ecommerce, and into powerful data-driven personalisation in the content marketing space. Advances in the use of data and decisioning tools will facilitate fast progress in this area.
“This year and beyond, personalisation will be increasingly rooted in developing a deeper understanding of individuals through data, and being able to serve better, more relevant and more seamless brand experiences to invoke actions, feelings and responses. There is much debate to suggest that this cannot be done by machine alone - that there must be a human element to 'curating' experiences from the data.
Trend #2 - We finally see the fallout from GDPR and Facebook’s data scandal
“GDPR and ongoing Facebook data scandals meant that 2018 was the year that people started to pay more attention to how their personal data was stored and used in the digital space. But has it really made an impact on mass consumer behaviour? We think not yet – but it is certainly one to watch for 2019 and beyond.
“A recent report by Marketing Week (published in August) found that in the three months since GDPR, 65% of consumers believed they had seen no change to the experience that they have with brands. What is more, more than a third (36%), believe that companies have used their data without their consent since GDPR came into force.
“Running alongside GDPR was Facebook’s data issues. 2018 has left Facebook reeling from a number of high profile news stories which brought to the fore what the world’s biggest social media platform has actually been doing with our data for all of those years. Despite taking a hit on the stock exchange, calls for the world to #DeleteFacebook and a declining younger demographic, people are still using the platform and brands are ploughing ad spend into it. So if that’s not enough for us to lock down our privacy settings and remove ourselves from the platform – what will 2019 bring?
“The dilemma that consumers face is – how much do they want to give up their data to be served content and offers that suit their needs? There is also the question of how they choose the brands that they decide to give this information to. Ultimately we have seen how data is the key to driving personalised and ongoing relationships with customers but the onus is now on brands to engage their customers, to create meaningful, added value content for which people are happy to give up their personal information. 2019 will also be the year that marketers place much more of a focus on user experience to overcome the pop-ups and jarring customer journey that GDPR seems to have created. In fact, a recent report by WARC discusses how improved customer experience across both the on and offline space is crucial for not only brand growth but also increasing trust in brands. According to WARC, ‘almost two thirds (61%) of agencies and 52% of brands cited CX as the most important digital transformation for business in 2019. There is still some way to go, however, as just 15% of brands say their CX is aligned across channels.’
Trend #3 - People close their eyes and listen …
“It’s no surprise that voice search is set to come into its own in 2019, but how about 2019 being the year that people ‘close their eyes and listen’?
“While a picture might speak a thousand words – now is the time not to overlook the power of sound as a trigger to evoke powerful memories and emotional responses that can elevate a brand campaign into something truly beautiful.
“In fact, a recent report by research agency Neuro-Insight has concluded that “brands that overlook sounds as a creative tool are missing out on a crucial dimension of branding”.
“Audio streaming content is undoubtedly growing – placing the power of sound back in the spotlight, when in more recent times the way consumers interact in social channels have led to a muting of audio. In 2019 expect to see sound placed back the centre of brand campaigns, rather than as a post-production afterthought … and prepare to be moved.
Trend #4 - Harnessing the power of commuter commerce
“In today’s always on world there is no such thing as ‘dead time’ and as such we have seen the commute representing an incredibly lucrative opportunity for brands – and this is set to get even bigger with 5G, connected cars (and the IoT) and more connected trains and buses.
“According to a new study of rail travellers’ online retail behaviour, by KBH On-Train Media and Retail Economics, the value of on-train commuter commerce (defined as on-train, on-device retail activity by those using the train to travel to and from work) reached £2.6bn in 2017 and is predicted to grow by 75% to reach £4.6bn by 2022.
“They key for brands in 2019 is to harness the sales opportunity that the commute represents, marrying a properly mobile-optimised website and app with a presence across multiple platforms and touchpoints – both within digital and traditional media.
“The opportunity for brands to be both highly creative and data-driven in this space is huge – with millions of customers there for the taking.
Trend #5 - Web management at scale
“There has been a marked increase in businesses investing in digital solutions to drive ‘experience management at scale’. The latest innovations in PaaS (Platforms as a Service) content management, hosted on scalable cloud servers, provides global level IT and brand governance, while providing greater autonomy to regional marketing teams requiring agility in creating localised site content and campaigns. This is particularly suited to larger enterprises managing a portfolio of brands and products where websites can be in the hundreds. Creativity is married with automation to create a common platform and process to handle multi-site delivery.
“Leading the way in this space is our technology partner, Acquia, whose Site Factory platform is the industry’s only digital experience platform that can deliver strong governance along with the flexibility to support multiple development teams, regions, brands, compliance standards, and multiple versions of CMS, all with a single solution.”
Simon has been the owner and Managing Director of Access for more than 19 years. For more on the latest digital and brand communication trends for 2019 visit the Access website, www.weareaccess.co.uk
"There seems little doubt that 2019 will be the year that some long-standing digital and marketing trends and innovations such as AI and voice search will finally take their place in the spotlight."
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