It's a new year and it's important for marketers to take stock of not only where the space is today, but where things are going. Here are five major trends for digital marketers to keep an eye on this year.
Anyone in retail knows that mobile is big and only going to get bigger. But there are very specific challenges with mobile marketing that the field hasn’t found solutions for. eMarketer reported last month that mobile search is set to surpass desktop in 2015—though the ROI will continue to trail behind desktop search for advertisers. Banner ads, thought to be the ugly stepchildren of advertising platforms, still account for 97% of mobile ads.
But mobile marketers have a few ideas on how to propel things in 2015. For starters, rethinking social media on mobile is top of the list for James Briggs, CEO of Briabe Mobile, a mobile solutions provider. Briggs argues that social sites like Twitter haven’t adapted to consumers changing behaviors on their mobile devices.
“Mobile, social, and content have been sitting in silos for some time, and we’re going to have to find a way to merge them,” Briggs said. “People consume content differently on their phones, and that applies to social. We have to move away from the desktop idea of social media.”
People are typically looking for specific content on their phones, so they “aren’t going deep with information like they are on desktops," he said. "We need to start thinking about how we can create more mobile-friendly landing experiences so it’s easier for people to get the information they need.”
As far as advertising is concerned, native is likely to become more prominent—but there is no question advertisers are going to rethink how they present native ads on mobile devices.
“30 second video ads just aren’t going to work on mobile. What we are likely going to see more of is a 2-3 second ad that corresponds with the content being read. Brands that have already tried that strategy have seen positive results,” Briggs said.
2. Native ads
Native advertising was perhaps the breakout marketing trend of 2014, and is likely to continue to evolve this year. As audience targeting gets more sophisticated, it makes sense that the two will be intrinsically connected going forward. When marketers are able to better target their audience, native ads can become more sophisticated.
For example, Facebook recently rolled out a "custom audience" product for brands to interact more easily with loyal customers about new products and offers—and it's been very successful thus far. TechCrunch reports that this idea of 'who you are' will push out the 'what are you doing' mindset of audience targeting, making it easier for native advertisers to reach the most engaged consumers possible. The more loyal a consumer is, the easier it will be to determine the best native ads to display for a particular person.
3. Private messaging
It's not all excitement and new beginnings in the industry: Some trends should make marketers a bit worried. Take the rise of private messaging in 2014. Snapchat had a meteoric rise, Facebook Messenger hit 500 million monthly active users, and anonymous apps like Whisper and Secret also gained popularity. Marketers are going to have to rethink their social media tactics to advertise to these mystery audiences, which they should be doing anyway, according to Forrester.
Snapchat has begun experimenting with video ads but, as AdAge reports, the very nature of the app is likely to send its users running if the advertising becomes too intrusive. It's unlikely social sharing will go completely private, especially within a year, but the trend is certainly one to keep an eye on.
2015 also brings with it the emerging promise of wearables, particularly with the release of the Apple Watch. This smallest of screens is certainly going to take some finesse to figure out for advertising purposes.
But considering the very nature of wearables—they are literally attached to your person after all—it could wind up being a treasure trove for brands wanting to reach their target audience in new ways. Push notifications could end up being a relatively unobtrusive way for brands to interact with loyal customers, and could have a better ROI since it is likely to have a better consumer adoption than Google Glass ended up having.
5. The sharing economy
2014 was also the year of the sharing economy. Airbnb, which has been around for a while, started to become a legitimate threat to hotels, and car services like Uber and Lyft became a serious threat to the taxi industry.
While these new services are innovative, they're also disruptive for marketers. If more and more people start using goods and services from each other instead of buying them from retailers, it could seriously alter the role of marketers. If people start buying less and sharing with each other more, it's likely that certain goods and services could decline in relevance. Uber has already started to shift how often people drive in Los Angeles, which could affect car sales down the line. Grocery delivery services, like Instacart which had a big year in 2014, could also affect the way food and goods brands market themselves in-store. Sharing economy start-ups reportedly received $7 billion in funding since 2005, and half of that came in 2014. This could be a trend to watch this year.