With all the hoopla of the 2016 Holiday season behind us, digital age marketers are in full gear planning strategies and budgets for the New Year.
In a globalized world that never slows down, it is never too early to start thinking about how marketing trends are going to evolve in 2017. It is no small coincidence that those marketers with the foresight to plan, anticipate, and adapt to the seemingly ever changing trends of the digital age also happen to be those marketers who consistently rise to the top of their respective industries.
So… where should marketers set their sights in 2017? Look no further than the growth of mobile.
Anticipating the Mobile Boom
To put it plainly, mobile is hot.
Digital media ad spend (and specifically mobile) is looking like it is due for a meteoric increase in 2017. According to eMarketer, not only is 2017 likely to mark the first time that total digital ad spend surpasses TV (with an anticipated allocation of 38.4% of total ad spend for the year ), but mobile ad spend is also likely to experience a 31.9% increase from 2016, landing somewhere in the range of $32 billion…
Briefly reviewing some of 2016’s mobile marketing success stories, we see that early trend adopters were able to successfully build large and profitable businesses through the targeting of mobile audiences. Facebook’s mobile ad revenue represented 82% of all ad revenue for in Q1 2016, while Google went on record in stating that its app install ads product, Universal App Campaigns, facilitated over 2 billion app installs in 2016. While it is true that Facebook and Google represent the giants of all things mobile and social, small and midsize firms should not underestimate the impact that creative mobile marketing can have in 2017.
As global smartphone usage continues to climb, and with 36% of Americans now simultaneously connected via multiple devices (i.e. smartphones, tablets, AND computers), marketing success in 2017 will depend directly upon the ability of marketers to expertly navigate the intersection of creative mobile advertising and consumer loyalty. Moving beyond the low growth loyalty programs of yesteryear, there now exists a multitude of omni-channel, turnkey, and creative communication solutions that can be leveraged with mobile advertising to promote and nurture the ever important consumer relationship of the digital age.
Let’s take a look at what you should expect in 2017.
Virtual & Augmented Reality Will Leave Their Impact on Mobile
For better or worse (and which will likely depend on your age and generation), both the pop-culture and tech-culture of 2016 are likely to be remembered by the free-to-play location based and augmented reality mobile game Pokemon Go.
As recently detailed by Forbes, augmented reality technology is gaining in popularity, and by 2021 it is expected to be a $5.7 billion industry. Perhaps the only statistic more astounding than its expected growth is the fact that 2016 is predicted to close with not only 500 million downloads of Pokemon Go, but 17 million additional augmented reality downloads (i.e. non-Pokemon Go related). Location based apps, social media networks, streamed media, and mobile advertisers are just a few of the expected beneficiaries of the augmented reality market increase.
While some pundits have labeled augmented reality as nothing more than a buzzword marketing fad, when it comes to mobile, its long term viability is likely to depend on the extent to which the technology can positively impact consumer/brand interactions. In 2017, look for an increase in the use of augmented reality location analytics, as this technology will allow marketers to track the aggregate movements of mobile users. Augmented reality analytics will not only assist marketers with segmentation and attrition, but with omni-channel integrations as well.
Moving to virtual reality, 2017 is likely to see a rise in the number of digital marketing campaigns aimed at making virtual reality accessible to anyone with a smartphone in reach (as this recent Coca-Cola marketing campaign demonstrates). From Ocean Spray cranberries, to Volvo test drives, to the home-decor selection at Lowe’s, it is quite evident that virtual reality is slowly but surely entering into the active conscious of today’s digital age retailers. The expectation for 2017 is that digital marketers will take tangible take steps towards removing the current location dependency that exists with virtual reality technology, and that they will further develop responsive omni-channel and mobile integrations (including advances in programmatic advertising).
How far virtual and augmented reality technologies will develop in 2017 is yet to be seen, but with Google’s recent announcement of a virtual reality android based operating system, there is reason to believe that the sky’s the limit.
Mobile User Acquisition Will Continue to Evolve
A quick glance at both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store (and their 1.5 million apps), reveals a prime user acquisition opportunity for digital marketers in the coming year. While it may in fact require 38,000 new users every day to crack the Apple App Store top 25, do not fear, for whether your goal is to land on the top 25 list, or you simply desire to refine your go-to acquisition strategies, 2017 will be the year of the app. If 2016 showed us one thing, it was that, across the board, developers and publishers are continuing to advance their education and knowledge base when it comes to leveraging the costs of new user acquisition. The year 2016 will be remembered for its many new tools, as well as innovative app processes, and the manner in which both helped the “little guys” compete with the traditional “giants” of mobile user acquisition.
Continuing with this trend, look for native ads to play a key role in 2017. Expected to make up 63% of mobile display ad spend by 2020, native ads represent a fundamental turning point in the evolution of user acquisition. Native ads allow publishers to not only automate the placement of ads within their users “experience stream,” but they ensure that mobile advertising is no longer restricted to page margins . Native ad units have higher engagement rates than traditional banner ads (as evidence by Facebook’s $5 billion in quarterly earnings), and native ad growth will only continue to rise in 2017 as more publishers shift to programmatic selling.
A specialty focus within the native ad market, and one that appears primed to take off in 2017, is what is known as native app “preloads.” Providing a highly visible mechanism for engaging and educating users, native app preloads grant publishers the ability to cut through the digital age clutter of mobile advertising, and to generate heightened user awareness by preloading apps onto smartphones and other devices. It is important to remember that native advertising is a framework, and not a format. Understanding this, native app preloads enhance the ability of publishers to provide the right content, to the right consumer, and in the right context, thereby improving user experience and helping facilitate user acquisition and retention. Considering that consumers have been shown to convert 100-300% more on mobile apps than mobile web, keep your eyes peeled for this trend in 2017.
Another area of mobile user acquisition emphasis for 2017 will be video. Look for this multi-media marketing channel, which reigned supreme in 2016, to continue to be the channel of choice among top grossing publishers in 2017. As early as 2015, marketing experts (such as AdColony) were demonstrating the heightened industry preference for video as a user acquisition channel, showing it to be 2.3x more popular than social media, and 23x more popular than display. In 2017, look for live video streaming to be the next logical step in the user acquisition evolution, as social media users will only continue to expect more “on-demand” and “live feed” interactions with their preferred brands. With an estimated of 25% of internet users watching online video every day (including 500 million internet users watching Facebook videos), and with the dynamic mobility of today’s smart devices, more apps and platforms will likely take advantage of the potential user reach that video streaming has to offer.
Social Media Will Get Personal With Big Data
A final trend to expect in 2017 is the complete integration of the mobile “social media experience” with big data analytics. It is important to remember that the mobile internet never sleeps. As the marketing wizards at Smart Insights recently demonstrated, a 2016 digital age minute was as complex as it was diverse.
How complex and diverse?
Well, 60 seconds in 2016 meant 3.3 million Facebook posts, 55,555 Instagram posts, and 422,340 Twitter tweets (among other eye-popping numbers).
And yet, despite the astounding statistical frequency of social channel interactions in 2016, DMA recently reported that up to 70% of companies are not collecting user content data from social media. This appears to present an interesting contradiction considering social media ad spending is expected to exceed $35 billion in 2017. It appears that most digital age marketers are looking to advertise and convert social media users regardless of the social data available on consumer trends, purchase intent, and sentiment drivers.
Expect 2017 to be the year that brands look to get consumer-centric (as called for by Forrester in 2015), and maximize user retention through big data. Mobile devices will be key, as they will only continue to take on a bigger role in our digital, social, and interpersonal activities. Mobile use is, by its very nature, proactive and rigorous in generating user data, primarily due to the deep influence of mobile interfaces in all walks of life. Understanding that nearly 80% of social media interactions now occur on mobile devices, mobile data will be key in 2017 when it comes to developing the personalized, loyalty-driven, and customer-centric marketing strategies that are necessary for success in the digital age.
As we wave goodbye to 2016, and embrace 2017 with open arms, it is clear that the evolution of mobile marketing will depend on the initiative, timing, and innovation of digital marketers. Dynamic, multi-channel, and data driven processes will assist marketers in getting the jump on the trends of tomorrow. Incorporate these trends into your 2017 mobile strategy, and bring in the New Year on an ROI high.