Top 10 Digital Trends for 2017 That We’re Watching

2016 was an exciting year for digital marketing as a result of advancements in (and the adoption of) new technologies, techniques, and tactics.

At Acart, we are constantly identifying emerging opportunities for our clients. Here are some of the digital trends for 2017 that we’re watching and prepared for.

web surfingWhile not an emerging space, we are expecting an increase in native advertising initiatives in 2017.

Your audience is now more ad-aware than ever before: their reliance on recommendations from real people on social channels, their increasing skepticism of traditional advertising, and their use of ad blockers online are prompting advertisers to reinvigorate and re-invent native advertising programs.

Fortunately, there are now more ways than ever for us to work with our clients in getting their brands into editorial and rich media ecosystems. Whether we are introducing In-Feed, In-Ad, Widgets, or Search ads to clients who’ve yet to try them, or there are new products from publishers to be explored, we expect to be creating (or capitalize-upon) more initiatives in native advertising in 2017.
virtual realityVirtual Reality (VR) and 360 video content and advertising have been widely embraced by audiences.

While we’ve been long-time Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) harbingers and creators, it wasn’t until recently (with the widespread adoption of Pokémon Go this year) that the technology’s purpose and value have become fully-understood and adopted by Canadians.

Although the hype around Pokémon Go has plateaued, it has demonstrated the enthusiasm and ease-of-adoption users have had with AR (while inspiring marketers with its commercial potential).

We expect to be busy with immersive ad units, AR-based branded experiences, games, and apps in 2017.
live video advertisingWe are all now live broadcasters; and, your audience is now demanding more real-time content from you.

Agencies like Acart now have professional-grade live video publishing mechanisms for platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Periscope. As a result, brands suddenly now have new windows for their markets to look into their worlds, their events and happenings, their culture and values, in real-time.

While live video has been an upward-trend in recent years, it wasn’t widely accessible until the recent dissemination of mobile devices and the age of increasingly fast mobile web speeds (pushing us into the Post-PC and always-on era that we’re now in).

We have numerous live video streaming initiatives on the go for clients in 2017, ranging from broadcasting events and experiential programs to product launches and Q&A's.
google analytics ottawa2017 will be the year of “less guessing, more testing”.

Marketing is a results-driven field. As advertisers, we rely on evidence to inform our actions. Visualizing and interpreting this data can be an art and/or science: all of the listening, KPIs, and goal conversions mean nothing without human intelligence and insights, inferences and instincts.

Fortunately, agencies now have the tools and skills to interpret data, to apply meaning, to quantify sentiment, and to measure an asset’s performance with precision. As 2016 saw a number of these new tools introduced and adopted, we feel that most businesses will become convinced of the value of data visualization and adopt it in some fashion.

Those without this layer of easy-to-interpret data and intelligence, and how it holistically relates to their marketing activities and performance, will be at a competitive disadvantage.
snapchat marketing canadaThe volume of User Generated Content (UGC) has grown alongside the evolution of the platforms for it: users flock to new Stories and Moments on Twitter and Instagram, creating new streams of content; users are lining up to purchase SnapChat’s Spectacles which (alongside immersive video, other first person video devices/wearables, and action cameras like GoPro) are ushering-in a new world of POV content.

As a result, we are expecting to see a groundswell of UGC and content marketing in 2017.
smartwatch web 3.0The web has become self-intelligent and driven by sharable metadata; users no longer want search engines, they want computation engines and access to the content that they need without barriers, such as Rich Cards in SERPs. These advances in 2016, such as the evolution of smart personal assistants, has focused on rethinking a brand's online touch-points.

Asking your customers or clients to Google your business and surf your “Contact Us” page for your operating hours is no longer acceptable for users of today's web: if they can't get what they want from you in a few seconds, users will find it from another business; creating these friction-points for mobile-using pedestrians and second-screeners weakens your competitiveness in the task-centric, personal-assisted Web 3.0 era that we're now in.
personalized marketingIf the size of your digital audience has grown in tandem with the growth of the digital marketing sector and emerging verticals, there is now more competition to get the attention of more people. The increase in digital marketers is most evident when looking at content, inbound, and social media marketing arenas.

Your audience’s response to this may be “content shock,” being bewildered by the white noise of information, images, ideas, and pitches that they’re presented with each day online.

Our response to this growth is to be a scalpel among meat cleavers: precision of strategy, of audience segmentation, and niche targeting will continue to provide competitive advantages in 2017.

We feel that markets and individuals respond better to being treated as being as unique as they are: alongside niche targeting, personalization of messaging will continue to shine as a solution for cutting through the clutter: online and offline brand experiences, advertising and promotions, products and services themselves, will all benefit from using personalization tactics.
mobile advertising canadaWe’re expecting that we’ll be creating more and more “dense” content in 2017 (content that is highly productive in very small delivery mechanisms, able to convey a message at a glance).

In light of the increase in online content, marketers are having a more difficult time capturing their markets’ attention. Our attention-spans have shortened into attention-glimpses. While media content and appetites have increased, media literacy has decreased.

An example of activity in response to this has been video posts in social feeds: videos on Facebook and other networks are set to auto play without sound and users would typically watch a few seconds before deciding to un-mute the video or scroll-on; in response, marketers began hard-superimposing subtitles into their videos, making them more attention-getting and valuable to users (viewable even without being able to hear the video).

Videos with subtitles are also easy to repurpose as soundless, animated .gifs, making them exponentially more sharable. User engagements with video content increased dramatically as a result in 2016.

Similarly, having an evidence-based understanding of what Google’s coined Micro-Moments (the intent-driven, task-basked little Web 3.0 actions that we take all day on mobile) will be indelibly valuable to marketers in 2017.
internet of thingsThe Internet of Things (IoT) has begun to enter each of our homes, offices, cars, and the like: every device has the potential to be smart and connected, either making a device multi-purposed (doorbells with webcams) or enhancing its purpose (refrigerators ordering milk).

With these advances crescendoing in 2017 (such as the highly anticipated Alexa-connect table lamp from GE, new arrivals in smart cars and wearables), we have new and inventive ways of connecting more closely with our clients’ audiences in ways that were unavailable until now.
chatbot marketingRemember chatbots? Those AI things you could “chat” with on IM platforms like MSN and AIM? ‘Member 'bots?

Chatbots have made a comeback as branded pipelines to brands’ goods and services on platforms like Facebook Messenger. Users who are shopping for a product can now ask a bot for feedback, or ask a government agency to help them to find resources; users receive canned responses rather than trying to hunt-down information themselves.

We’re working with several brands now on initiatives to get their data aligned with the questions consumers are asking online, thereby removing the fourth wall even further with a new and fun way to fill their sale funnels.

We look forward to sharing our ideas with you (on these and other exciting areas of digital marketing) in the New Year!

Do you have questions about marketing, advertising, or promotions using some of the digital tools that we’ve mentioned here? Contact us today!

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