2016: The Year in 36 Posts

As another year draws to a close, we’ve been sifting through the archives to bring you our top three stories from each month in 2016, starting, logically enough, with January. Not all of these would qualify, in everyone’s eyes, as the biggest things that happened in mobile that month, but for us they are the stories the trends and issues that have shaped the industry throughout the year. We hope you enjoy out review of 2016. We’ll be back with our regular coverage of the mobile marketing scene on 2 January. Until then, enjoy…


Randall Rothenburg, president and CEO of IABAdblock Plus is “Unethical” and “Immoral”, says IAB Chief
Delivering his opening keynote speech at the US IAB Summit, Interactive Advertising Bureau, president and CEO, Randall Rothenburg accused ad blocking firm Adblock Plus of being an “unethical, immoral, mendacious coven of techie wannabes”. Not content with that, he also described the firm as an “old-fashioned extortion racket” who are “stealing from publishers, subverting freedom of the press, operating a business model predicated on censorship of content, and ultimately forcing consumers to pay more money for less – and less diverse – information.” Read.

Google Paid $1bn to Keep Search Bar on iPhone
Google paid $1bn (£697m) to Apple back in 2014 in order to keep its search bar in a prominent place
on the iPhone, transcripts from court proceedings in Oracle Corp’s copyright lawsuit against Google revealed. The transcript also revealed that Google has an agreement with Apple that sees it sharing ad revenues generated through Apple devices with the iPhone maker. Read.

80 Per Cent of Facebook Q4 Revenues were from Mobile
Facebook’s mobile success story carried on where it had left off in 2015 as the company revealed in late January that 80 per cent of its record-breaking $5.6bn (£3.9bn) ad revenue in Q4, 2015, came from mobile advertising. During the same period, Facebook’s profits also doubled year-on-year to £1.56bn, with its daily active users on mobile rising to 934m during the quarter. Read.


SwiftkeyMicrosoft Buys Keyboard App SwiftKey for $250m
The month started with a notable exit as the mobile keyboard app Swiftkey, one of the winners in our first-ever Awards in 2010, sold to Microsoft for a reported $250m (£173m). At the time of the acquisition, Microsoft’s motives seemed to be to integrate SwiftKey’s predictive technology with Microsoft’s own artificial intelligence work, including Cortana, its virtual personal assistant for Windows. Read.

Domino’s Brings Pizza Delivery to Amazon Echo
Domino’s Pizza maintained its commitment to multichannel with the launch of an ordering ‘skill’ for the Amazon Echo and its virtual personal assistant, ‘Alexa’, just in time for the Super Bowl final. Echo owners could enable the Easy Order skill by linking their Amazon Alexa and Domino’s Profile. If they entered the phone number associated with their order, Echo could also provide live delivery status updates. Read.

Three Says Ad Blocking Plan is About the Customer Experience, Not About Making Money
On the eve of Mobile World Congress, UK mobile operator Three told Mobile Marketing that its plans to deploy ad blocking technology were focused on delivering a better mobile experience for its customers, and not on making money out of the move from consumers or whitelisting advertisers. Three subsequently ran a one-week ad blocking trial with Israeli company Shine in June, before abandoning its ad blocking plans just last month saying it has “pissed off” Google among others. Read.


SPLIT_HIGH_RESMcDonalds Turns Happy Meal Boxes into Happy Goggles VR Headsets
McDonald’s put Virtual Reality on the menu in Sweden with a Happy Meal box that doubles up as a Google Cardboard-style VR headset. The Happy Goggles headset worked in tandem with a skiing game app, developed in partnership with child psychologists Karl Eder and Fadi Lahdo, which aims to help kids understand the need to be alert on the slopes and avoid obstacles – including other skiers. The VR campaign was commissioned to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Happy Meal in Sweden. Read.

Digital Ad Spending Set to Overtake TV by Next Year
A report from ZenithOptimedia concluded that 2017 will mark the first time that more money is spent on internet and mobile advertising than on television commercials by businesses globally, with digital advertising growing at three times the rate of the rest of the industry. The report also suggested that mobile would be responsible for the vast majority (up to 92 per cent) of adspend growth, with the large part of new internet ad spend targeting mobile devices. Read.

Yahoo Sets Two Week Clock on Offers for Core Business
Towards the end of March, Yahoo sent out letters to a number of potential buyers for its core business, giving them two weeks to submit preliminary proposals. Potential bidders were asked to list which parts of the company they’d like to bid for, and how much they are willing to pay, as well as how they plan to finance any such deal, and details on the internal approval process behind any potential deal. As it transpired, Yahoo was sold to Verizon for $4.8bn (or “chump change” as more than one commentator described it) in July. Read.


Taco BellTaco Bell Launches Bot for Ordering Food
Fast food chain Taco Bell launched a chat bot for work messaging platform Slack. ‘Tacobot’, as it’s known, can be messaged like any other contact to ask questions about the Taco Bell menu and, by connecting up their account, make orders for pickup. It also features pre-scripted answers to a variety of other chat questions like ‘Which came first, the chicken or the egg?’ Read.

Amazon Triples Dash Button Line with Over 100 Products
Amazon tripled its Dash Button range, enabling consumers to pick from over 100 dedicated connected devices that can instantly reorder specific everyday products through the internet retailer. The expansion brought in new brands including Charmin, Energiser, Starbucks, Trojan, Doritos and Purina, and meant that Dash Buttons were available for retail verticals as diverse as feminine care, snacks, office products and pet supplies. Dash Buttons are available to Prime members in the US, and cost $4.99, but include a $4.99 credit to the buyer’s Amazon account, making them essentially free. Read.

UK Mobile Ad Spend Rises £1bn in 2015 to £2.63bn
Figures from the IAB and PwC revealed that spend on mobile advertising rose by a straight £1bn in 2015 to reach £2.63bn, up from £1.62bn in 2014. Overall spend on digital advertising rose by 16.4 per cent to £8.61bn, with mobile accounting for 78 per cent of this growth. In 2015, mobile accounted for 30.5 per cent of all digital advertising. Read.


Apple SAP dealApple and SAP Sign Deal to Bring iOS into the Enterprise
For several years after the launch of the iPhone and the iPad, BlackBerry’s defence against Apple was that its devices and its OS were not secure or robust enough for the enterprise. The paucity of that argument was thrown into sharp relief when Apple signed a deal with business software giant SAP to bring more iOS apps into the enterprise. The partnership sees SAP developing native iPhone and iPad apps for business operations, built with Apple’s Swift programming language, as well as releasing tools to help SAP’s 2.5m-strong developer community do the same. The first tool due for release was an SDK for developing iOS apps that leverage SAP’s HANA database management system as well as iOS features like Touch ID, location Services and notifications. Read.

Microsoft Sells Off Nokia for $350m

Three years after buying Nokia for €5.4bn (£4.3bn), Microsoft offloaded the Nokia brand and its feature phone business to FIH Mobile for just $350m. Many questioned the wisdom of the Microsoft acquisition at the time. It would appear their concerns were well-founded. One week after announcing the sale, Microsoft announced 1,850 jobs in its smartphone hardware business. Read.

Toyota and Volkswagen Invest in Taxi Apps Uber and Gett
In a further sign of the seismic shifts taking place in the automotive industry as it gears itself up for a world where cars don’t need drivers and many people no longer feel the need to own a car, Toyota and Volkswagen announced strategic investments in two separate taxi apps. Toyota, entered into a ‘memorandum of understanding’ with Uber, alongside a strategic investment in the company, while Volkswagen, invested $300m in Gett, the Israel-based ride sharing app. VW said the investment was part of its goal to generate a substantial share of sales revenue from ride sharing and other mobility services by 2025. Read.


IBM Weather Company
The Weather Company Integrates Watson AI into Ads
In a sign of where the fusion of Artificial Intelligence and advertising might take us, the IBM-owned Weather Company integrated IBM’s Watson AI product into advertising, enabling consumers to interact, asking questions via voice or text and receiving relevant information in return. The solution, called Watson Ads, was designed to create a one-to-one connection with the consumer while also providing marketers with consumer and product insights faster than ever before, revealing connections that were previously invisible to data scientists. Among the brands showing an early interest in the platform were Unilever, Campbell Soup Company and GSK Consumer Healthcare. Read.

Mobile Channels Reaching TV-sized Audiences
A report from Opera Mediaworks revealed that mobile games and entertainment apps had reached a point where their reach, session times and levels of engagement rivalled traditional TV channels, marking a seismic shift in how we engage with media and the power of mobile. Popular apps like Shazam, The Weather Channel and BBC iPlayer now boast monthly audiences higher than prestige dramas like Game of Thrones and wide-reaching shows like Sky Sports Super Sunday and Gogglebox, the report noted. Read.

Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages Drive Higher Engagement
Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project reported encouraging early numbers, with over 90 per cent of publishers making use of the technology saying they were seeing higher clickthrough rates. The technology, launched last October, aims to simplify the HTML coding of mobile websites in order to dramatically speed up load times, addressing some of the concerns of ad-blocking advocates and generally improving the browsing experience for all users. The open source project also improves caching of mobile web pages in order to speed up load times. The AMP team released stats comparing ad performance on AMP and non-AMP mobile pages across 150 publishers. In addition to higher click-through rates, 80 per cent of publishers saw higher viewability rates, and the majority saw improved costs per thousand impressions. Read.


Crowd-of-people-crossing-road-shopping.jpgComScore and xAd Partner to Tie Mobile Campaigns to In-store Visits
Going beyond the last click in attributing a sale to the channel that drove it is still one of the major challenges digital marketers face. Add in offline and the waters get even murkier, so we were please to see comScore partnering with xAd for a measurement solution that promised to link mobile campaigns to in-store visits.

Using comScore’s campaign validation and lift methodology, and xAd’s Blueprints tech, the Location Lift solution shows which consumers visited an advertiser’s stores as a result of seeing specific ads, helping link up mobile with the 90 per cent of retail commerce that still happens in physical stores. Read.

Pokémon Go: A Wild Opportunity Appears!
The launch of Pokémon Go in July took the world, literally, by storm. In this piece written a week after its launch, Alex Spencer charted the game’s success, and looked at some of the reasons why it had proved so popular. Six months on, the hype around Pokemon go has undeniably subsided, but this was, by any standards, an unbelievably successful launch. What will 2017’s Pokémon Go be, we wonder? Read.

Can Social Media Win Trump the White House?
With the US Presidential Election poll still some four months away, Tim Maytom’s insightful piece looked at how the candidates were using social media, and posed the question: Could Donald Trump’s approach to social help win him the top job. As we all now know, it could, and did. Read.


Mobile Banking LloydsUK Watchdog Calls for Mobile Banking “Revolution”
After a two-year inquiry into British high street bank chains, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), called for a technological “revolution” and a substantial shift onto mobile in order to promote better competition. The study concluded that updated smartphone apps that take advantage of the latest mobile capabilities should be available for all banks by 2018.

The CMA’s ‘Open Banking programme’ calls for banks to implement APIs that make it possible for customer data to be shared on third party apps (following individual consent), enabling easier comparisons between different banks via mobile.

The change would enable third parties to create apps that compare different offerings from high street banks, or tools that manage multiple accounts from different providers. Read.

FTC Looks to Crack Down on Non-transparent Social Influencer Marketing
Bloggers and vloggers have become hugely influential over the past couple of years, so it’s no surprise that brands want to tap into their reach, or that firms are emerging to aggregate these influencers and make it easy for brands to tap into their following.

All of which is fine and dandy, so long as said influencers make it clear when they are being paid to say good things about the app, product or service in question. But sometimes they don’t so earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US unveiled plans for a crackdown on these reprehensible youths. A report on Bloomberg cited three instances involving Snapchat star DJ Khaled promoting a vodka brand; fashion lifestyle blogger Cara Loren Van Brocklin endorsing PCA Skin sunscreen; and “internet personality” iJustine posting Instagrams from an Intel event. In each case, the report sais, there was no indication that they were being paid to do so. Read.

1.5bn Olympic Interactions on Facebook
The extent to which many people live out their lives on social media was laid bare by the release of stats from Facebook showing that more than 277m people had over 1.5bn interactions with Olympic content on the social network over the course of the Rio 2016 games.

The most popular athletes included US swimmers Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky, gymnast Simone Biles, footballer Neymar and sprinter Usain Bolt. Usain Bolt’s gold medal in the 100m was one of the most popular individual posts, as was Christiano Ronaldo’s post congratulating him. Read.


facebook messenger paymentsFacebook Chatbots Open for Business
Facebook continued to expand the capabilities of the chatbots that companies can operate within its Messenger app, adding the ability to take payments and conduct transactions, and also to seamlessly integrate enhanced mobile websites into Messenger. The company also made is easier to share bots with friends, and made it possible for News Feed ads in Facebook to link directly to Messenger, launching a chat with a bot. Read.

Facebook Overestimated Video View Time By Up To 80 Per Cent
But it wasn’t all good news for Facebook, as it emerged that the company had been artificially inflating a key video performance metric by between 60 and 80 per cent for the past two years. The shocking statistic was revealed in a letter sent by Publicis Media to its clients. The revelation was prompted by an answer given by Facebook on its Advertiser Help Centre several weeks ago, which caused several ad agency executives to investigate and push Facebook for more details. Read.

Samsung Recalls Note 7 Due to Fire Risk
September is a month Samsung will want to forget. At the start of the month, the company suspended sales of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone and issued a voluntary recall, after reports of handsets catching fire. At the time of the recall, there had been 35 cases where a fault had caused Note 7 handsets in the US and South Korea to explode after being charged. Samsung identified a battery cell issue as the root cause of the problem. A formal US recall was announced on 15 September. The problem hit Samsung hard, with the company’s Q3 profits falling by $1.93bn compared to Q3 2015, to $4.7bn. In October, after ceasing production of the device, Samsung said the negative impact of the recall and discontinuation would be somewhere in the ‘mid-three trillion’ Won range, or around £2.5bn. Read.


Twitter-Bird-Logo-IRL.jpgTwitter Sets November Deadline for Acquisition Hunt
Rumours about who might buy Twitter were rife during the second half of the year, with Google, SalesForce and even Disney among those said to be interested. To bring some semblance of order to the situation, the social media firm told companies that might be interested in acquiring it that it was seeking to conclude negotiations by 27 October, in time for its Q3 earnings report.

Well 27 October came and went and instead of being courted by potential suitors, Twitter instead was forced to announce a major restructure of its business, shedding around nine per cent of its global workforce as it reported net losses for Q3 of $103m. Who knows what 2017 holds ins tore for Twitter, but it looks like another tough year for the company. Read.

Meerkat is Live-streaming’s First Fatality
Live-streaming app Meerkat was pulled from the Google Play store in October as the company behind the app, Life On Air, focused on a new group video chat project called Houseparty.
Meerkat relied upon Twitter APIs to promote live-streams, so its days looked numbered as soon as rival live-streaming app Periscope was bought by Twitter for $100m, enabling Twitter users to live-stream from within the Twitter app. Read.

Sony’s Smart Earpiece Opens Pre-orders
First there were phones, and then there were smartphones. And tablets. And phablets. And then along came wearables – smart watches, glasses, even rings. Sony’s Xperia Ear is perhaps a good example of where all this might be headed. It’s a smart earpiece that integrates a digital personal assistant that can be controlled using natural language interface and simple head gestures.

The device is designed to offer a new form of communication and interaction without disrupting user’s activities in the same way as a smartphone or even smartglasses. It can make calls, perform internet searches, read and dictate messages and interact with mapping apps to guide you to a given location. It offers a number of gesture based controls, such as nodding to reply to messages.

It could be the future, or it could be a glorious failure, but you can’t deny it’s a very interesting idea.


GiphyGiphy Raises $72m
So a digital tech firm raises some cash. What’s the big deal? Happens all the time. What’s interesting here is what Giphy does. It’s a GIF-based search engine with a singular focus that puts us in mind of another search company that stuck to its guns in the early and reaped the rewards.
After the recent emergence of emojis as a comms tool, we wonder if 2017 could be the year of the GIF. Read.

US Students “Easily Duped” by Native Ads
Native has been the success story of the past couple of years, particularly on social. But how native can native get? Perhaps too much is a study carried out by Stanford University is anything to go by. It showed a group of middle school students (aged 11-13) an example homepage from Slate, with two different types of ads – traditional display banners and sponsored articles – and asked them to identify the advertising content. More than 75 per cent of students were able to correctly identify the banner ad, and identified a news story as editorial content. However, an article marked ‘sponsored content’, was spotted by less than 20 per cent of the students. Some spotted that it was sponsored but didn’t grasp the implications of this, still believing that it was a news article. Read.

Mobile Will Be the World’s Third Largest Ad Channel By Year End
We all know instinctively that more brands are devoting moore of their budgets to mobile, but even so, when WARC, the marketing intelligence service, predicted last month that mobile will be the world’s third-largest advertising channel by revenue by the end of the year, behind TV and online, it came as something of a shock.

Warc’s Consensus Ad Forecast predicted that global ad spend will rise by 4.5 per cent during 2016 as a whole. With the exception of newspapers and magazines, all major media channels are expected to record ad spend growth this year and next. However, the two largest, TV (+1.1 per cent) and internet (+13 per cent) are forecast to see their growth rate ease during 2017. The same is true for mobile, though it is still set to be the fastest-growing ad channel over the period. Read.


Amazon AIAmazon Announces Three New AI Services
Amazon Web Services (AWS), the retail giant’s software-as-a-service unit, announced three artificial intelligence services in a bid to make it easier for developers to build apps that can understand natural language, turn text into lifelike speech, have conversations using voice or text, analyse images, and recognise faces, objects and scenes.

Amazon Lex, Amazon Polly and Amazon Rekognition are said to provide high quality, high accuracy AI capabilities that are scalable and cost-effective. With Amazon making it easier to develop AI solutions, we can expect to see many more rolling out in 2017. Read.

Facebook and Google to Take 71 Per Cent of UK Display Ad Spend by 2020
We’ve lost count of the amount of times we’ve heard that most of the money in digital advertising goes to two companies – Facebook and Google. According to a report from OC&C Strategy Consultants it’s absolutely true and it’s only going to get worse (for everyone else at least).

According to OC&C’s Marketing 20:20 report, the two companies currently account for 53 per cent of the £4bn online display advertising market in the UK, but will experience combined annual growth of on average 24 per cent year-on-year over the next four years, so that by 2020, 71 per cent, or £4.1bn of the UK’s overall online display advertising market, will go to the two companies. Ouch. Read.

Mercedez-Benz Launches Croove Car-sharing Scheme in Munich
The automotive industry has been centre stage all year with all the moves being made around driverless and connected cars. So to round off the year, it was interesting to see Mercedez-Benz getting in on the car-sharing act with the launch of Croove in Munich.

Croove is an app-driven car-sharing service initially available for iOS, with an Android version to follow. The idea is that with most cars doing nothing for most of the day, the owner might as well make money by hiring the car out to other people when it’s not needed. Mercedez-Benz takes 30 per cent of the rental fee in commission. The scheme is open to all makes of car.

Given the way car-makers are looking beyond their traditional business models, it will be intriguing to see how their revenues break down five and 10 years from now. Read.

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2017 Predictions: Euclid Analytics

Euclid Analytics CEO Brent Franson provides top three retail trends he expects to see in 2017.

2017 predictions Euclid Analytics

In 2016, we saw retailers begin to adapt to a changing retail landscape. Various brick-and-mortar retailers filed for bankruptcy while conversely, online retailers expanded into brick-and-mortar. This year, retailers sought a balance between going all in on physical retail or doubling down on eCommerce.

As the holiday shopping season comes to an end, retailers will begin to buckle down and look to the opportunities that lie ahead – so what can we expect from the evolving retail landscape in 2017?

Brick-and-mortar will revamp shopping experiences
In 2017, physical retailers will accelerate efforts to be competitive with eCommerce. They’ll certainly have taken note of industry-wide store closures: Macy’s, for example, announced it would close 15 percent of its retail stores – and it’s not the only one. Walmart, JC Penney, KMart, Sears and Kohl’s also made similar calls.

But the smart ones will know that store closures aren’t necessarily the death knell for physical retail. Instead, it’s about hitting that trifecta of maximizing your physical space, nailing digital and executing on a more effective mobile strategy. After all, Macy’s is still actively investing in their best-performing stores, even as they redirect dollars to digital.

Remember: eighty-three percent of surveyed consumers use their mobile devices while shopping. Physical retail must bring in what consumers enjoy the most about shopping online: convenience and personalization. It’s why we’re seeing more companies offer services such as fast shipping and free returns. But that won’t be enough to win.

In order be truly competitive, brick-and-mortar retailers must create more thrilling shopping experiences by focusing on providing customers with special deals, unique services, entertainment and more. Two-thirds of consumers surveyed said they like to go to stores because they can actually touch, see and hold the products before they buy. That clearly says the sensory experience of a store is a major advantage physical retailers hold over eCommerce. They should exploit it.

Retailers will get more creative on social
This year, we saw retailers boost their use of Facebook and other social media platforms. Next to family and friends, Facebook was the most popular way for consumers to find cool new products.

In 2017, look out for retailers to be more creative with Facebook and other social media platforms – anything from engaging with consumers with a more human and quirky tone or offering fun promotions you can only get through the platform.

Beacons will continue to be doomed
Beacons have struggled – the exception being Amazon’s app, which 25 per cent of consumers have on their home screens – and, much as I’d love to say otherwise, they will continue their downward trajectory.

Consumers have historically failed to adopt use cases that are hyper-granular from a location perspective. Moreover, beacons require an additional investment of time and effort, particularly with the requirement for manual adjustments every time a new promotion is available. Retailers should refocus on what they’ll get the most from: macro-level behavioral data, like how long a customer spends in the store or frequency of shopping, to shape their promotional approach.

2017 will be an interesting year for retailers – one where we will see brands land and expand. For example, businesses like Uber and Amazon established their credibility in core competencies and then expanded out from there. Physical retailers will borrow a leaf from this same playbook, thinking about novel ways to quickly get products into the hands of customers, and drumming up new in-store services that offer an unorthodox draw and a point of engagement with shoppers.

Brent Franson is CEO at Euclid Analytics

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2017 Predictions: Sizmek

Alex Rahaman, VP of programmatic for StrikeAd at Sizmek, shares his predictions for the next year in mobile advertising

2017 predictions Sizmek

Have you ever waited so long for an opportunity that when it arrives, you’re too stunned to seize it? Then you know exactly how marketers felt in 2016 when mobile finally took the display advertising crown, outpacing ad spend on desktop by an impressive £40m.

After years of anticipation, early advocates were vindicated, sceptics converted, and the industry gripped by the potential of a mobile-driven future. Yet planning for that future wasn’t easy; we knew the path ahead would be mobile but not what direction it would take. Now that the dust has settled, a clearer picture is emerging. Technological advances such as automated trading are bringing more efficiency and accuracy to mobile marketing, while the lure of swelling ad budgets is creating fresh challenges in the form of app-focused fraudsters. In the wake of mobile’s coronation, let’s take a closer look at the trends 2017 will bring.

Mobile will go programmatic
One of the many benefits of mobile is its reach – smartphone usage in the UK now tops 80 per cent –  so it’s no surprise that marketers are beginning to view programmatic as a means to leverage this with large-scale campaigns. Indeed, according to the IAB, over three-quarters of marketers consider automated trading on mobile to be a vital development. Yet the same research also found that only 27 per cent of marketers have bought ads programmatically.

In 2017, this will change as marketers start to understand the importance of integrating automation with current strategy. In particular, awareness of programmatic technology’s ability to capture all conversions will grow, helping marketers to see it as an essential tool not just for amplifying brand influence, but also increasing and tracking engagement.

App fraud awareness will grow
In the first flush of enthusiasm, many marketers have set aside their fears about mobile ad security – chiefly concerns about inventory quality – to focus on data points, such as user behaviour and geo-location, instead of vetting an app’s certification status before buying. Recent research into mobile app fraud, however, has uncovered fraudulent activity in just over half of uncertified apps.

So, the first priority for marketers should unquestionably be quality, or more specifically, avoiding uncertified app traffic. What’s more, the research also disproved the commonly held assumption that certified apps are always above board, with eight per cent of apps downloaded from official stores found to display malicious activity.

Over the next 12 months, buyers will take more precautions with in-app inventory, such as using metadata from app stores to execute secure buys and exclusively purchasing ad space within apps that are both certified and considered appropriate for all ages – an efficient way to protect against fraud and ensure ads only appear beside brand-safe content.

Precise attribution will be a necessity
With greater usage of an advertising medium comes heavier emphasis on ROI. So it follows that, as mobile adoption rises in 2017, marketers will be eager to enhance the accuracy of attribution — especially when it comes to making connections between online and offline activity, such as in-store purchases and mobile interactions.

According to the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, 66 per cent of visits to UK retail sites during the festive season last year came from mobile. But, a Mintel study of the same period found that only eight per cent of shoppers decided to buy all of their presents online, compared to 18 per cent who bought all presents in store. This illustrates that the impact of mobile isn’t always obvious; although not used to make the final purchase, it is often the main driver behind it.

To ensure optimal budget allocation, marketers will increasingly demand technology that helps them understand the part each channel plays in a consumer’s individual journey. Only with a detailed view of the links between online conversations and real-world sales will they be able to establish which mobile strategies are worth continuing, and which aren’t.

Rich media will fuel tech efficiency
To drive conversions, mobile ads must do more than ignite audience interest; they must inspire consumers to interact with brands. As a result, ad types that drive high interaction rates, such as rich media – proven to generate 7.4 times more engagement than standard banners – are destined to be a major focus for mobile marketers in the year ahead, and are set to drive a mobile technology evolution.

At present, the abilities of mobile operating systems and delivery platforms are sufficient for standard display, but rich media ad formats, like video or audio, require a lot more tech muscle. Over the next 12 months there will be a wave of innovation as providers work to accommodate the appetite for rich media by improving download speeds and ad serving efficacy. Developments that will, in turn, produce more engaging mobile ads in 2017.

Having at last crowned mobile the king of marketing, the industry must look to the future. Any reigning format needs to be agile, secure, and efficient, which means in 2017 we can expect to see a shift towards more advanced programmatic delivery, stringent anti-fraud measures, accurate attribution and diverse ad types if mobile is to keep its throne.

Alex Rahaman is VP of programmatic for StrikeAd at Sizmek

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2017 Predictions: Collective Bias

Holly Pavlika, SVP of marketing and content at Collective Bias, gives the forecast for influencer marketing in 2017.

2017 predictions Collective Bias

2016 was an amazing year for influencer marketing. Not even the changes in algorithms on various social platforms, FTC compliance crackdowns or questions over ROI stopped companies from jumping into the realm of working with influencers. But what will 2017 hold?

Influencers could save Twitter
Who will buy Twitter and save it from the death everyone has been talking about for years? So far there have been no takers, but Twitter has been making moves to attract influencers to the platform (for example, announcing a generous 70/30 revenue split back in August).

Twitter’s recent downturn might completely wipe the platform out from the influencer marketing platform race, but Twitter Moments feeds the curated news appetite of many audiences – and it remains a favorite platform of celebrities, politicians, and anyone with a passionate cause.

A Snapchat vs Instagram showdown
Which platform will ‘win’ for influencer marketing in 2017? Snapchat’s growth has been tremendous this year, but Instagram is a much easier platform to learn and navigate than Snap and its influencers are more established.

Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, recently bought FacioMetrics in what seems to be a move to go after Snap’s fan favorite filters. Facebook, a seasoned behemoth, knows a thing or two about audience growth, engagement and monetisation, is lending Instagram its years of experience, which should ensure its success.

TrackMaven recently analyzed over 51, Instagram posts and Instagram is leading the way for engagement over all social platforms at a rate of 70 interactions per thousand followers. Our testing of influencers on both platforms shows Instagram in the lead as well and they are aggressively attacking the social commerce of the platform, which is ideal for driving purchase. Our bet is on Instagram in the long run.

B2B influencers will make a bigger play
Influencer marketing has traditionally been used by consumer brands, but B2B companies will start to take advantage of it in 2017. The FTC will need to catch up to the B2B industry influencers and make them disclose their payments for conference speaking, free flights and hotel stays. in the same way it does for B2C.

These influencers can often demand a pretty penny for you to associate your brand with theirs and ultimately you end up promoting their brand instead of yours. That said, B2B influencers are great for networking and ideation. Leveraging their name and commentary can be a boon for sending traffic to your website, where you’ll have to see if the leads are valuable and convertible to sales.

Live streaming influencers will become mainstream.
Already influencers are flocking to live streaming. It’s much easier for an influencer to broadcast himself or herself on Facebook Live than to learn to shoot video and edit. But live streams make tracking compliance even more complicated for the FTC.

Disclosing sponsorships on live streaming should be no different than any other platform, but we can expect some bumps in the road in 2017. Influencers and brands are bound to run into trouble if they don’t stay true to the guidelines.

We still won’t reach a standard method of payment
The industry may never reach a standard method of payment for influencer campaigns, but will anything change in 2017? Doubtful. So, how do you put a price on someone’s influence, audience size, engagement or the quality of his or her content? Is Kim Kardashian worth the reported $300,000 per post she receives?

Regardless of the payment model, influencer companies should be taking on the risk and employ incentives to encourage influencers to work on behalf of brands in an honest and transparent way, as well as measure and motivate them to produce their best work.

Compliance will finally be taken seriously
2017 will be the year that brands stop working with non-compliant influencers, influencers stop working with non-compliance brands and agencies, and everyone accepts their own accountability for the FTC guidelines. This year saw several big brands get slapped with significant fines, but monitoring the hundreds of thousands of influencers and the proliferation of their content is a near-impossible task.

The risk to the industry is great, especially if advertisers and brands feel the industry is less than ethical, so it’s paramount that everyone from brands, digital agencies, PR firms and influencer marketing companies toe the line. And influencers need to obey the rules to help ensure their business.

Data will prove influencer marketing’s actual worth
With marketers becoming more accountable for ROI and sales, 2017 will be the year that data will show the strength of influencer marketing beyond the beauty of it being impervious to ad blocking or mere social engagements. But we will all need to meet somewhere in the middle.

Brands eager to understand influencer marketing’s impact on sales will need to be more willing to disclose POS data, for example. At the same time, influencer marketing companies will need to get a grip on a deeper understanding of the influencer’s audience or the potential of dark social’s impact on measurement.

Strategy will become critical for influencer marketing success
Celebrity influencers? Micro-influencers? Power middle influencers? When it comes down to it, there shouldn’t be a fight over which type is the best. Each can play a role a brand’s success, but it takes careful planning, setting clear objectives, mapping out a channel strategy, and aligning the right influencers.

Influencer marketing can be part of a content strategy, a social strategy, a PR strategy or audience growth strategy while helping to amplify everything from traditional advertising or in-store/online shopper marketing efforts.

Holly Pavlika is SVP of marketing and content at Collective Bias

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2017 Predictions: Juniper Research

Juniper Research‘s Windsor Holden and Lauren Foye share their top three predictions for tech trends in the year ahead.

2017 predictions Juniper

Advent of PSD2 heralds banking disruption
The implementation of PSD2 (Directive on Payment Services) effectively reduces the barrier of entry to new digital players. It will require banks to open up both PIS (Payment Initiation Services) and AIS (Account Information Services) to third parties, thereby allowing those players to compete with existing services in those fields currently offered by the banks.

As financial institutions work towards the development of this framework, new opportunities will be opened up for new service providers where, for example, applications for credit are made much more seamless and pain-free. The net result is likely to be significant disruption across the banking ecosystem, as a host of third party players – including retailers, telcos and vendors – seek to deepen their existing relationships with consumers with the addition of an array of financial products

Meanwhile, the framework will also demand enhanced focus on the security model, where specialists will be able to offer services to ensure that the risk of cybercriminal activity is reduced.

Blockchain deployments extend beyond financial industry
To date, most blockchain deployments have been limited to the financial sector, with exchanges and banks seeking to trial the technology as a means of increasing the speed, transparency and security in areas such as transaction settlement. However, we expect that 2017 will see a raft of proof-of-concepts to integrate the technology across a much wider array of applications, with logistics and identity management to the fore.

We also envisage that a number of national governments will instigate trials incorporating blockchain technology in a bid to automate manual processes which are time-consuming and expensive.


eSports hits the mainstream
eSports, the competitive playing of video games at a professional level, is set to hit the mainstream in 2017. Juniper forecasts that there will be over 190m unique viewers of eSports content next year across mobile and online channels.

The recent drive in coverage and growth has stemmed from the content delivery mechanisms available to both gamers and viewers alike. Platforms such as YouTube have enabled users to upload footage for free, with viewers accessing this media on demand.

New growth in eSports broadcasting is already underway: Ginx eSports TV recently launched on Sky in the UK, and follows the BBC’s steps last year to livestream the League of Legends European quarter-final, hosted at Wembley Stadium. And there is no shortage of investment, with prize pools running into the millions of dollars – the user-funded pool for DotA 2’s ‘The International’ this August, for example, approached $21m.

eSports viewers, similar to those in the traditional TV space, expect to access content when and where they desire, for example through OTT and VOD services. As such, it is crucial that broadcasters look at providing ‘snackable’ media and engaging content, perhaps also seeking to enterprise on the trend towards social eSports platforms.

Ultimately, broadcasters will be challenging major online platforms – most significantly, Twitch and YouTube. It is therefore more likely that live tournament media will be better suited to TV, with partnerships and content rights purchases required.

Streaming rights to eSports have not seen much in the way of development to date. The crucial issue here is quality and audience. The majority of tournaments are shown on Twitch simply because it is seen as providing the best quality environment in which to offer such media. DingIt, who had exclusive rights to StarCraft’s SSL tournament, faced significant backlash from fans after neglected to provide good quality content.

In terms of monetising such a rapidly expanding industry, the current online providers generally harness the use of subscription and advertising models, with the latter still not reaching its potential. Juniper believes that advertising spend on eSports is set to surge in 2017, reaching over $290m.

Windsor Holden is head of forecasting & consultancy, and Lauren Foye is research analyst, at Juniper Research

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2017 Predictions: Publicis Media

Scott Curtis, ‎European mobile strategy & development director at Publicis Media, shares his top predictions for the coming year.

2017 predictions Publicis Media

The mobile phone is arguably the most important device that humanity has ever had access to. It’s our gateway to the digital world and has quickened the pace of democratised information. It blurs our perception of reality. It is a magic wand to activate our devices, and our own personal assistant. The smartphone has left many other items, like music players and calendars, redundant. Our wallets, keys, and even computers are probably next in line on the hit list.

Looking to the immediate mobile trends for 2017, though, you should expect to see the following:

Mobile will reduce the time spent with brands.
It was a previously held marketing truth that brands should maximise the time that their prospects and customers should be spending with them. But today we live in a world where time is increasingly the most precious resource we have. In cities, footsteps are quicker. We will abandon sites that take more than three seconds to load. The average human attention span (eight seconds) is now less than that of a goldfish (nine seconds).

Digital technology is changing our psychology rapidly. No longer are we content to wait for a branded story to unfold if it is standing between us and our chosen content. And for a nation of supposedly expert queuers, we Brits don’t want to stand in line. Supermarkets that offer shoppers the ability to scan their cheese on mobile and leave the store in minutes rather than heading to the checkout are going to be the stores that will win in the time economy. Shops that use beacons or NFC to provide product information, without waiting for a sales person that we may not want speak to anyway, will gain our love. And brands that allow us to ask questions to a chatbot without needing to sift through menus of options will be the ones that we will come back to.

Mobile moves to a zero-interface OS
This may seem a little counter-intuitive, given that mobiles traditionally need an operating system to work, but the tide is turning. We are heading to a world where operating systems don’t require an interface. This is down to the strides taken in speech recognition in 2016 and the smart products built on these systems, like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Voice command is speedier than tapping out words. But more than convenience, the personal touch that the power of the voice has justifies the high cost for this technology. (It’s probably worth noting that Alexa has apparently had over 250,000 marriage proposals.)

2017 will see much more functionality added to home systems like Alexa and Google Home and this will drive mass adoption. Next year should also see Google’s assistant enter the mainstream outside of the Pixel phone. Being an upgrade on Google Now and ‘OK Google,’ it will pull in users’ data, location and preferences to tailor suggestions helping them to navigate the world around them. We are beginning to outsource our thinking to the machines.

Mobile will mix up our reality
Augmented and Virtual Reality have long been on the hype cycle, with multiple VR systems being released to the masses in 2016: the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR and finally PlayStation VR. To date, while VR has been a success in its ability to transport users to another world, it very much remains a novelty. Most content feels like a demo, lasting only a few minutes or lacking real depth.

2017 will change this. Developers are beginning to understand what makes a good virtual experience and will convince brands to start to plug more money into developing rich and immersive content. Vive is releasing a peripheral that makes the headsets wireless, Oculus is launching touch controllers to combat the Playstation’s gaming ecosystem and to allow users to interact with what they are seeing.

Augmented Reality, meanwhile, can transfer any surface, any packaging, into a storytelling platform. This will impact the whole customer journey, from showing people what purchases could look like in their homes, through to extending the conversation brands have with customers post purchase. The world post-Pokémon Go will never be the same again. Whilst VR has the ability to transport us to new spaces, AR transforms our everyday reality creating unique opportunities for brands to play in.

Scott Curtis is ‎European mobile strategy & development director at Publicis Media


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2017 Predictions: Manifesto

Jim Bowes, CEO and co-founder of Manifesto, shares his top predictions for the coming year.

2017 predictions Manifesto

As 2016 draws to a close, it is time for brands to consider which technology trends will be big in the New Year and which they should be looking to implement. This will ensure that marketing teams will be able to engage with their customers via the right channels, whilst at the same time staying ahead of the competition.

The rise of VR
It was predicted that 2016 would be the year that Virtual Reality really took off, and the availability of technology has certainly gained pace without the full impact of VR hitting our homes, but we expect to see the technology get closer to the mainstream in 2017. In the next 12 months we’re likely to see VR and AR become more widely used marketing tools with many more people experiencing them.

Large brand names are already experimenting with this technology. Car giant Volvo has been using VR to allow potential customers to test drive its latest model by taking the driver on a scenic trip down country lanes. Luxury brands such as Ferrari are perhaps some of the best placed to take advantage of this technology, tapping in to the aspirational nature of their products to engage with new audiences that could be the customers of tomorrow.

This opportunity to experience something outside of the everyday has also been taken up by the fashion industry, with well-known designers such as Dior and Balenciaga using VR this year to give customers the chance to experience sitting on the oh-so-exclusive front row at Paris Fashion Week.

Personalised conversational interfaces
2016 saw Facebook launch chatbots on its Messenger app. The service allows businesses to communicate directly with their customers through the app using AI that is able to navigate the conversations, offering a unique and personalised experience. As a result, many brands are already experimenting with Messenger and linking it to adverts on social media platforms. Customers that click on a Facebook ad in their feed will be taken to a direct conversation with the brand in-app, improving the customer experience and allowing brands to learn even more about their target audience – if combined with efficient data analysis.

In 2017, we’ll see a lot of the tasks we currently perform manually become increasingly automated through conversational interfaces. Setting alarms, changing the heating and ordering a pizza with voice commands will all soon be the norm.

AI has already made its way into the consumer’s home in the form of gadgets such as Amazon Echo. Amazon has started to link up with major brands such as Domino’s Pizza and Hive to offer the customer a complete user experience where customers can order make orders or control appliances in the house by talking directly to Alexa, the AI assistant powering the Echo. These are still mostly command-based and the learning elements are in their infancy, but it won’t be long before the devices in your house have worked out your living patterns.

We often focus on the frivolous elements of these technologies, but these also have huge potential for home security or making contact in cases of fire or medical emergency. Soon your home will know if something unusual is happening, which could literally be a lifesaver.

Many marketers are considering how they can use speech-based interfaces like these to offer a highly personalised customer service as the technology continues to develop in 2017.

Personalisation is the new black
Personalisation is definitely the buzzword in marketing this year, with many marketing companies now aiming to create personalised content and adverts to engage with their target audience – and this won’t change in 2017. In the digital world where consumers often feel bombarded by content and information, offering unique and personalised services in this way will help brands stand out from the competition.

As brands look to individualise their products by including customers’ names on Coca Cola, Nutella or Marmite packaging, mass customisation has turned personal. For some businesses, this will mean ensuring all touch points on the customer journey are specific and individual. For others, it will simply mean streamlining the purchasing process in order to make it more responsive, therefore creating an easier experience for the customer.

2016 has seen technology change the marketing landscape forever and 2017 is shaping up to be another exciting year where technologies we’ve seen for a few years become mainstream. Brands must therefore ensure that their marketing strategies remain agile in order to make the most of the opportunities that technology offers. To be truly successful, however, businesses need to remain true to their core values and not simply use the technology for the sake of it.

A great story, a strong brand and shared passion with your target audience remain more important than any trend. The next 12 months will be an exciting and crucial period for marketing professionals as more and more brands begin to experiment telling their story with new platforms to increase customer engagement and stay ahead of the competition.

Jim Bowes is CEO and co-founder of Manifesto

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2017 Predictions: Sublime Skinz

Lisa Menaldo, managing director UK at Sublime Skinz, shares her vision for the transformation of mobile advertising in 2017.

2017 predictions Sublime Skinz

For advertisers, 2016 has been a challenging year. as the realisation sets in that they need be more innovative than ever to deliver the ads users actually want to view and, ultimately, not block. After a decade of claims of ‘the year of mobile’, with the industry now determined to create a more meaningful user experience and thus reduce the need for ad blocking, perhaps the description for 2017 should be “the year of transformation of mobile advertising”.

The rise of mobile ad blocking
Recent reports suggest that mobile ad blocking has increased by a staggering 90 per cent since 2015, with one in five smartphone users installing software to eliminate or at least reduce unwanted ads. Furthermore, while mobile traffic is half that of desktop, mobile sites are currently blocked at three times the rate of desktop sites. Adoption of mobile ad blocking is currently greatest among emerging markets such as China, Indonesia, and Pakistan, although it will not be long before these levels are matched in the UK and the rest of Europe, especially as built-in ad blocking software becomes a standard feature of mobile browsers.

For too long, advertisers have been so preoccupied with the scope and sophistication of their digital campaigns that they have begun to lose sight of the consumers they are seeking to engage. As a result, internet service providers have started to intervene. In June 2016, global telecommunications provider Three implemented a network-level trial – for users who opted in – which blocked all ads on mobile websites and in-app for a 24-hour period. In addition, Google banned one of the industry’s long-established staple ad formats: the interstitial, which appears on-screen while the user waits for their chosen website to load.

If soaring ad block rates and industry intervention prove anything, it is that the need for personalised, creative campaigns that harness data insights and listen to users has never been greater. Meanwhile, publishers are concerned that a rise in ad blocking technology will undermine their traditional advertising-funded business model. However, if the dilemma remains unaddressed, mobile ad blocking could pose a serious threat to the media industry. So how can brands strike a happy medium to keep both publishers and consumers happy?

The transformation of mobile advertising
Before advertisers can address the way in which they interact with their audience, they must first consider the reasons for ad blocking. For some users, the content being served is simply irrelevant or dull. However, rich-media ads, especially autoplay ads which have prolonged loading times and take up significant amounts of bandwidth, are effectively robbing the user of both time and data costs.

At best a user will block that ad and forget about the brand; at worst they will become frustrated and develop ill feeling towards the brand and everything it represents. According to one study, 47 per cent agreed their mobile advertising experience was positive, and 39 per cent cited a negative experience due to irritating ad formats.

But the challenges that face advertisers do not need to be destructive and these testing times will only serve to bring about a positive change for the mobile advertising industry. We now need to work on improving these figures to ensure the majority of consumers enjoy their mobile browsing experience.

Immersive technologies
In 2017, the main aim will be to prevent ad blocking from gaining further traction, as we see the adoption of new, immersive yet unobtrusive ad formats. One such strategy will be to include parallex effects – these ensure banners are better integrated into the publisher content and propose a more aesthetic solution to consumers.

The user also has the option to view a full-screen brand panel for the ad, but only if the initial banner has piqued their interest. These new formats will ensure quicker-loading, cleaner-looking webpages which will improve the user experience and, therefore, the brand/consumer relationship.

Following industry standards
We will also see more marketers embracing industry-wide initiatives such as the IAB’s LEAN principles (Light, Encrypted, Ad choice supported, Non-invasive ads) to ensure ads provide a harmonious, non-disruptive mobile browsing experience. In addition, the IAB’s revised guidelines, which incorporate the LEAN principles and will be finalised by the end of 2016, will encourage more advertisers to completely rethink the formats they use.

The rise of mobile ad blocking has made the industry far more conscious of the needs of the consumer. It is now time for advertisers to step up to the challenges they face, put consumers at the heart of their campaigns, and make sure that 2017 is the year of transformation of mobile advertising.

Lisa Menaldo is managing director UK at Sublime Skinz

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2017 Predictions: Fetch

 Julian Smith, head of strategy and innovation at Fetch, takes a look ahead at how chatbots and virtual assistants are leading us into a new era of conversational marketing.

2017 predictions Fetch

From a marketing perspective, one of the most interesting trends of the year just gone is the growing consumer shift toward mobile social messaging apps. We are seeing a move away from the public forums of social networks to the private and intimate communication channels of instant messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Kik, Slack, and Snapchat.

As we head into 2017, marketers will need to increasingly consider how they can engage their target audiences in these popular mobile platforms through conversational marketing, alongside their other direct-to-customer CRM channels like SMS, email, and social media.

Chatbots have become a key way to integrate with these app platforms and establish a customer dialogue. Since Facebook launched its chatbot functionality as a part of Messenger for Business early in 2016, the buzz around chatbots has exploded.

Chatbots enable businesses, large and small, to establish an automated conversation with people to answer questions, make suggestions and deliver content that can help build loyalty, upsell and cross-sell – an opportunity being referred to as ‘conversational commerce’. If mobile marketers take advantage of this emerging communication channel, they will be well positioned to form a closer connection with consumers.

Establishing a brand or business dialogue within mobile social messaging platforms will require new approaches, practices and skillsets. For anyone responsible for CRM and social media management, it’s going to add an extra level of complexity. This is the closest a business can get to personalised, synchronous communication with individuals at scale, anywhere, any time.

Conversational marketing will require thinking through all the permutations of a potential conversation with a customer, and the data analysis to understand the needs and requirements of different audiences. Businesses need to decide the level of automation or real human intervention to maintain a realistic and valuable dialogue. This will require the necessary tech resource working closely with Facebook to understand the boundaries of what is feasible.

As leading brands and businesses increase their presence within social messaging apps, marketers will also need to consider how to integrate branded chat environments into their current marketing strategies. Conversational marketing will present marketers with an opportunity to share their brand story directly with their audience, increase loyal customer engagement, enhance the customer service experience and ultimately get more people to come back to the business again and again. This might be particularly useful for online and offline retailers, regular service providers and content distributors.

But beware: if marketers do decide to open up to customer chat through these new direct channels, they should be sure to meet expectations of a useful conversation with the customer at the other end of the smartphone. A delayed or unsatisfactory response to incoming queries will be a turn off to the mobile-first consumer.

Looking further ahead, chatbots are a precursor to AI, the next step of data analytics and aggregation, going beyond consumer behaviour targeting to consumer behaviour predicting. AI is at the forefront of Google’s current agenda, as it predicts a move from mobile-first to AI-first. For marketers, this means a deeper level of understanding that helps companies make better predictions and serve customers what they need in advance.

Another precursor to AI is virtual assistants, such as Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Google Assistant and Microsoft Cortana. Consumers are already comfortable googling recipes for lasagne and are satisfied with the results Google throws up. This two-way dialogue is already happening, and voice search is a natural evolution of this conversation. Voice recognition is becoming more accurate and responsive, and now materialising in hardware extensions such as Amazon Echo and Google Home.

Consumers ask questions in voice search, and virtual assistants offer back answers to these specific questions. For SEO purposes, keywords will need to evolve to include not just search terms, but natural responses to questions. To encourage Echo to direct a consumer to a Thai Restaurant, keywords might no longer be ‘Thai’, ‘food’, ‘restaurant’ or ‘London’, but responses to questions, such as ‘Thai Kingdom is open until 11pm and is the top-rated Thai restaurant in London’. Marketers will need to shift their focus from reading and writing to speaking and listening, starting by saying aloud the conversational marketing content they write up to ensure it sounds like a natural conversational response, instead of just reading well.

The evolution from chatbots and virtual assistants into AI, and the opportunity for conversational marketing and commerce for marketers, should not be underestimated. Conversational marketing is likely not just a 2017 trend, but a 2018 and 2019 trend as well. It may well be the beginning of the future of marketing.

Julian Smith is head of strategy and innovation at Fetch

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2017 Predictions: Shareability

Erick Brownstein, partner and chief strategy officer at Shareability, shares his top predictions for the coming year

2017 predictions Shareability

Today, we reach into our pockets and find devices with hardware and software that have finally achieved ‘full mobile video’. Users are consuming and creating more content than ever before. Expanding audiences and features are constantly prompting new formats. Brands and publishers navigate whether to make bold moves in the content space or risk being left in the dust.

In 2017, as every player races to become the mobile-first television experience for a new generation, we’ll see the moving and shaking come from:

The rise of live video
With the launch of livestreaming on Instagram and Live’s rapid expansion on Facebook, supported by an unprecedented traditional media buy, the live video ecosystem will grow, spinning off new micro-formats. These new kinds of shows will often include interstitials, commercials, and pre-produced content. A live experience will often be completely pre-produced and simply programmed live. For an example, see the premiere of Buzzfeed Movie Night with a Monty Python and the Holy Grail screening on Facebook Live. Welcome to the new TV. We’re going to watch it happen in real time.

Mobile SVOD & AVOD come of age
TV-connected SVOD (Subscription Video On Demand) is a game for power-players, right now. You’re going to need pretty great content, like live-streaming sports, or stellar features to get users to spend much time outside Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon.

Mobile viewership, on the other hand, is dominated by social video and there’s room for services to capture this audience. I just signed back up for Fullscreen’s app because I found out that, as an AT&T mobile customer, I can sign on for a full year of the service for free with (this is a big one for me) the ability to stream over my AT&T cellular connection without using my plan data. I mentioned this deal at a panel recently and heard quiet gasps at the very concept of all that sweet, sweet free data usage. Data still matters and content always will.

We’re going to see providers jockeying for position her. Make sure you don’t write off ad-supported content (AVOD), as we continue to see evidence that viewers are okay with watching some ads if it means they can watch what they want, when they want.

Facebook & Instagram eat the internet
The past year has seen one example after another of Facebook and Instagram’s continuing aggressive campaign to co-opt core functionalities of other apps into their own dominant ecosystem. Their shared ad platform, with its robust targeting capabilities and Facebook’s mostly black-box audience data, makes this a powerful space for marketers.

Facebook’s new Video hub mirrors interface features from Snapchat and Instagram, where younger users spend more of their time. Featuring micro-video and memes means Facebook and Instagram can replace Vine as a hub of clever, short-form looping video clips. That kind of content has become something like Saturday-morning cartoons meets the funny-pages for a new generation. Facebook will be watching performance closely and coming to understand who wants to watch video memes versus New York Times mini-docs, and they will optimise accordingly.

Brands create truly good content (or lose by default)
Too many brands will try to be all over too many platforms simultaneously with uninteresting, ‘inoffensive’ advertisement-heavy content. Look for more savvy brands to show high standards for their content in terms of creativity and entertainment value. More will invest in episodic, narrative, and one-off hero video projects, creating slates of original social formats to distribute to the right audiences on the right platforms. These can feed into their linear TV and media strategies and drive long-term, deeper relationships with influencers, celebrities, and content partners.

As every demographic lives increasingly mobile native lives, it takes a new kind of thinking to keep up. This is new ground that is being broken by digital creators, leading media brands, and normal everyday users and it takes a both right brain and left brained approach: the analytical to optimise, and the wildly creative to innovative. In 2017, there will certainly be plenty of canvas for us to paint on.

Erick Brownstein is partner and chief strategy officer at Shareability

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