It’s a tough landscape out there for marketers at the moment, but there’s still a lot to get excited about… From VR and 5G to greater personalisation, Jonathan Cotton takes a look at the trends.
Here’s something we all know: Marketing budgets are down. According to Gartner, they’ve fallen from around 11% of total business revenue in 2020 to just 6.4 percent this year. And as the slow recovery from Pandemic conditions continues, they’re likely to stay down for some time.
CMOs are reacting by shifting what remains of their budgets to digital channels, with digital spends now accounting for almost three quarters of total marketing budgets, says Gartner in the same report.
So with the Pandemic sending everything online, what are the big shifts in technology that will help marketers reach their audiences more effectively in the coming years?
Video, VR and streaming
The numbers don’t lie: as of 2021, video is (by far) the most important medium for prospective customers researching a purchase. And video consumption is going up and up. According to the Cisco Annual Internet Report, online videos will account for 82 percent of all internet traffic by next year.
Facebook has been increasing its focus on video and the possibilities of live broadcasting, Instagram has launched its ‘shoppable’ posts functionality, and with influencer-based marketing gaining ground on video-friendly channels – social-streaming-as-marketing-exercise is on the rise.
These days, ‘video’ content comes in many flavours, including 3D and immersive 360-degree video, as well as computer generated AR and VR environments.
For marketers, AR makes the world a digital advertising canvas. For shoppers braving the mall, it can provide navigation, on-the-spot specials and calls-to-action. At home, IKEA’s Place app lets at-home shoppers virtually ‘place’ items around their home via true-to-scale 3D models in an AR environment.
And as 5G supercharges mobile potential (more on that below), VR and AR are key technologies that will transform the retail experience both inside and outside of traditional stores.
And there’s more to it than the gimmick. Studies show that such virtual test-driving of products does, indeed make shoppers more likely to buy.
As for online, Alibaba has been trialling a VR online shopping experience – immersing shoppers in virtual recreations of brand name stores.
5G + Mobile marketing
Marketers love to innovate, but in the digital world, that innovation only comes as fast as the data flows. That’s especially so for mobile, so with the arrival of 5G fifth generation wireless networks comes a whole new world of opportunity for marketers.
Don’t underestimate the impact. 5G goes well beyond instant downloads and no buffering. 20 times faster than 4G, 5G also brings ultra-low latency and new heights of ultra-high resolution video.
It’s early days yet of course, and the real life use-cases are still coming, but it’s only a matter of time before the creativity of the market catches up. Medium term, think bold new immersive and interactive media formats, and new standards of personalised content – thanks of course to the collection of higher quality and more granular customer data.
The line between the ‘real’ world and the digital one is growing ever fuzzier. Smart phones, smart wallets, smart homes, smart cars and highly-connected public spaces are changing the way marketers reach audiences.
Sensor technology – and the Internet-of-Things in general – connects user’s devices to the world – whether in-home, out and about, or in-store, creating highly targeted customer experiences and opportunity for digitally-savvy marketers. Geo-Fencing – real-time location-based marketing using geolocation data to target users in a certain area – lets marketers send push notifications when customers are nearby stores, and offer them deals as they walk in the door.
Artificial Intelligence will help manage these customer journeys, offering highly specific product recommendations to customers and predicting their needs ahead of time. For marketers, AI technologies support sophisticated predictive analytics and help improve the ad-buying process through detailed conversion and acquisition data analytics.
Such technologies will also provide the natural language processing for chatbots and help organise information such as a customer’s purchase history, recommending new products and even creating personalised sales content for would-be customers.