By: Veera Ghyara, Co-Founder and Business Head, Webmaffia
Every year, we are overwhelmed by the latest trends that the digital medium brings in. While brands are fascinated by it, they also want to explore it in ways that will help them capture the attention of their customers. All of this and more, just to engage with the customers across platforms and at different intervals of time.
Be it here in India or globally, technological innovation and experimentation will continue to be the foremost aspect of digital marketing campaigns while also shaping them. When it comes to digital innovations, certain trends have gone from strength to strength, proving their worth because of the way they are open to getting molded by brands while also performing well in terms of brand-customer metrics.
India is moving towards becoming a digital-first country, however, consumer mindset is still treated as a yardstick that distinguishes the success ratio of trends in Indian digital market vs the international.
As for trends, our understanding of a few which worked well last year and will grow in their impact in 2017 have been listed below:
Video content consumption saw a rise in 2016, not just in terms of time spent on it but also with big players like Hotstar, Netflix, Amazon Prime etc. entering the market with a wide variety of content. Brand story telling through webisodes etc. has definitely aced in terms of getting relevant traction on YouTube and other social channels. In addition to that, we will also see, with a little struggle though, Facebook LIVE, Instagram LIVE and Periscope doing the rounds of sharing branded content on real-time basis.
Technology like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have captured the attention of both, the brands and the masses. When launched, it faced a pinch, not just in India but even in the international markets for simply being a phase on technology. But, with some amount of risk and creativity, brands started using it to share a basic level of experience. According to a MarketsandMarkets report, the market is expected to increase for AR ($117.4 bn) and VR ($34 bn) globally by 2022. In India, this technology is still not cost-effective, but that should not stop brands from exploring it to raise the bar and create experiential content.
Mobile should top the list when planning digital marketing campaigns. Simply put, that is where your audience is consuming content. With hiked up internet connectivity speed and approximately 300 mn smartphone users in India, mobile optimization will be the key. There is also a rise in the number of digital natives shopping through their smartphones, not to forget the impact of demonetization that increased the usage of mobile wallets. According to an ASSOCHAM research paper, 50% of the online traffic comes from mobile. Now, this opens a lot of scope for mobile advertising to tap into the customers at the right time and right place. On the global front, the scope is bigger because, well, good internet connection. Approximately 72% US citizens check their phones at least once an hour, of which major portion of the time is spent on apps. So, mobile responsive websites and mobile applications will be the go-to option by brands.
Content will continue to rule the space, be it in India or globally. It keeps evolving and changing its avatar to create the right impact and recall. It is going to be crucial for brands to pick their preferred content mix and packaging in order to break in to the already floating content clutter. Having said that, visual content is going to make your brand popular as search engine mechanism has also bettered itself in reading and analyzing images. Videos will continue to shoot up the ROI. The focus this year will be on keeping the content crisp, making it relevant and most importantly, engagement-driven. Good content and search go hand in hand. Since search is observed to be overtaking the display space by capturing intent-driven traffic onto your website, placing relevant and engaging content across your online presence will become crucial.
Programmatic advertising’s potential will soon be realized by the marketing budget. It has been doing well and has great demand at the global level. According to emarketer, 67% of digital display spends in US is programmatic, while in the UK market it is predicted to be of worth $4.08 bn this year. Contrary to its popularity at the International level, in India it is still at an infancy stage. With consumers opting for ad blockers, programmatic along with native advertising will make an excellent combination as it will make ads contextual, non-intrusive and also authentic.
Chat Bots have the potential to be a game-changing prospect for any brand. Gone are the days where brands could only understand concerns of consumers through customer service or direct message. Globally, popularity of chat bots has gained momentum by giving brands an opportunity to deliver qualitative, one-to-one marketing experience with a close-to-human touch. This is known in the digital space as Conversational experiences. It is taking the digital space to a new level by helping brands to offer a personalized and interactive experience. As of today, there are approximately 30,000 chat bots already on the Facebook Messenger platform. Chat bots are here for good and will stay for long.
Digital trends for India and International market run parallel to each other. It only comes down to how it impacts the consumer. And that is totally dependent on the consumer perspective, depending upon whether it adds value or not, whether it enhances the customer experience or not.
Having said that, the ball is in the court of brands and marketers as to how well they package these tools in order to reach out to the customer with relevancy and engagement.