Influencer Marketing Continues To Sell
The year 2017 can only be dubbed as a wild ride for marketing, and that wild ride isn’t over yet. The market has been up, but CPG sales were dismal right out of the gate in 2017 — down $2.9 billion as reported by Nielsen. Then ad fraud and the issue of proximity to inappropriate content came along, forcing big companies like P&G to tell digital players to “grow up” and to pull advertising dollars.
And others followed suit. In Q4 2017, cybersecurity firm White Ops predicted there could be a $3.5 billion loss due to ad fraud during the holidays. In 2017, everyone claimed they were influencer marketing experts, but that expertise didn’t seem to translate to knowledge of regulations, causing the FTC to go after a few brands and influencers. Add to this Amazon competing with everyone and everything as they go after owning the world — or so it seems. In 2018, we can expect more of the same, but with more practical applications of technology.
Continued Evolution Of AI Capabilities In Everything
Our Head of Analytics told me I should use the term “machine learning” when I want to sound ordinary at a party, but use “artificial intelligence or AI” when I want to sound high society. In all seriousness, machine learning is a subset of AI and largely what is being applied in marketing today. AI is what's next, around the corner or yet to be discovered. According to this article, "Artificial Intelligence is the broader concept of machines being able to carry out tasks in a way that we would consider 'smart,'" and everywhere you turn in 2018 you are going to hear that AI is coming on fast and hard.
Vision, speech recognition and natural language technology, combined with data mining and machine learning, will create predictive models, all made possible by neural networks that can be trained with huge data sets and large-scale computing. This will deliver a whole new level of sophistication for marketing, particularly for influencer marketing, bringing a more scientific approach to matching influencers with brands to maximize ROI.
Increase In Brands And Retailers Partnering Directly With Social Platforms
No doubt, with big budgets, brands and retailers are uniquely positioned to demand the attention of social platforms. According to Statista, social media marketing was predicted to top $13.5 billion in the U.S. alone in 2017.
One retailer taking advantage of its clout is Target. The company was namedInternet Retailer’s "most effective marketer in online retail" award last year and recently announced an integration with Pinterest’s visual search tool, Lens, into its apps, as well as increased ad spend on the platform. Nike unveiled a partnership to sell products on Instagram. This was only scratching the surface — in 2018, brands will increasingly use their ad spend power to partner with social platforms, even enlisting them to teach their traditional creative teams to develop social content.
Rise Of Smart Content
Of course, you’ve read all the headlines about personalization, which is the very definition of smart content. Smart content is customer-centric versus product-centric and delivers the right message to the right customer. It is tailored to that particular customer’s needs and where they are on the buyer journey. While we have all been talking about this for years, machine learning and data analytics are allowing us to do this with much more precision and at scale. In 2018, we will see the death of marketing to segments — smart content will drive the demand for communicating with one single customer and catering to their needs.
Augmented Reality Will Finally Get Traction
Augmented Reality (AR), which has been long thought to be years away due to costs, is going to get a boost as Amazon, Google and Apple work AR into apps. IDC has projected AR/VR products will reach $215 billion by 2021, and app integration is going to be key for adoption. AR will be an important tool in a brand’s arsenal in 2018, allowing them to create unique, contextual customer experiences and deliver the kind of useful content shoppers need to make purchase decisions.
Brands need to start thinking about their content strategies if they aren’t already and about how they will leverage both smart content and AR. In 2018, influencers will be the earliest of adopters, just as they were with Periscope and Instagram Stories.
'The Amazon Effect' Will Usher In A New Era Of Competitive Innovation
We are already seeing retailers step up to either compete or join forces with Amazon, and this trend will continue into 2018. Lord & Taylor’s pending deal to be the first retailer in Walmart’s online mall and CVS’s push to deliver same-day prescriptions are just two examples of change to come. Amazon has even thrown a hat into the influencer arena with Amazon Spark, but a recent survey we conducted showed our influencers had little knowledge of the offering, and they were very concerned there really wasn’t any return on the investment. Brands and retailers will be quick to implement new technologies in 2018 and to be more innovative than ever to stay ahead of Amazon.