Mapping the consumer’s journey, storytelling, social media that’s even more embedded in our lives, improved voice recognition technology, the continued rise of chat bots and blockchain technology – these are some of the major trends in the digital space in 2019.
With a consolidated approach across all media types over the past two years, The MediaShop has seen a significant increase in digital spend.
Across its network of agencies, digital advertising spend accounts for about 15% of total spend, as clients allocate a higher percentage of their marketing budgets towards digital efforts.
Some of the biggest trends coming through include the mapping of the consumer’s journey, storytelling, social media that’s even more embedded in our lives, improved voice recognition technology, the continued rise of chat bots, and blockchain technology, which will ultimately mean we’ll know more about a consumer than ever before.
With digital education on the rise and clients open to learning, the digital piece of the pie can grow. With the fragmentation of linear viewing, players have the ability to start allocating higher proportions of budget towards digital advertising to counter second screening and users going online to stream audio.
More mobiles than running water
By 2020 more people will have mobile phones than running water or electricity at home, but an interesting fact is that the new generation will connect solely through mobile devices. Mobile currently has a 97.1% smartphone penetration among South African internet users (GWI 2018).
But the cost of data is still a big detractor for the man on the street. Above-the-line still has the lion’s share when it comes to mass reach for the average South African, specifically in the retail, financial and telecommunications sectors, even though there’s 155% mobile penetration in SA.
In a third world country, there’s still no certainty how the majority of consumers engage with mobile. Digital is another media channel, it’s not an ‘either or’. No consumer just views television or just listens to the radio. It’s largely platform agnostic, which is why being intelligence led is key. Being clear about who you’re talking to, when to reach your target market and how is crucial, and digital, traditional and face to face interactions have a massive role to play here.
It’s an absolute non-negotiable that you fully understand the consumer’s journey – how they spend their day, what platforms they are engaging with, and what information they want. Agencies cannot continue to assume that a person living in Johannesburg is the same as a person living in Cape Town or Pretoria. They’re not. Each person is a unique individual with his or her own worries, aspirations, goals, dreams and desires; that’s what big data will help to understand.
The correct utilisation of data needs to be perfected as does adding more value to clients in the form of bespoke consumer insights, so that media buying practices are a lot more scientific, no matter the channel.
The consumer connection
As marketers you also need to be cognisant of making real connections with consumers, who are using around 150 ‘micro moment’ decisions every day. These decisions are made on the go on their mobile devices in terms of what to eat, where to meet, the best route to take etc. This is why location-based media owners and advertising is growing so aggressively.
Social media is another big one, having become truly embedded into people’s everyday lives. Research shows that 9 in 10 South African internet users logged onto social platforms in 2018 with a staggering average of three hours spent per day (GWI 2018)!
Artificial intelligence (AI) has also become key, and even though South African consumers still prefer humans over chat bots, there is a significant move towards marketing automation. AI will continue to move mainstream as it offers a capability, which humans cannot deliver on. This ‘machine learning’ will continue to drive marketing automation by simplifying the communication process for brands and removing any barriers to the interaction journey for the consumer.
Storytelling through video and personalised content experiences is another big trend on the rise. As digital allows for the building of data, a roadmap should be developed, based on the available information, which can be used to your advantage to define your audience, understanding how they move through the customer lifecycle and look at how they engage with touchpoints that brands have created – those all-important micro moments. Good content builds attention and great content drives behaviour change. Content will continue to remain king and storytellers will rule the creative world.
Micro influencer marketing growing
Micro influencer marketing is on a massive growth trajectory, which talks directly back to creating great content that’s unique and authentic, and resonates with fans and followers – again tying back to storytelling.
Creating and building memory structures is vital for brands. Being thought of in a buying situation and creating emotional connections with brands will drive lasting relationships, according to the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute.
Big data, automation, AI and AR are the main trends. The amount of consumer data being produced on a daily basis is increasing with every single action ranging from a simple swipe and click through to an engagement and purchase. But brands and agencies around the world are all grappling with the question, ‘how do we best use this data?’ Businesses must adjust their models to gear themselves for communication that is far more tailored, customised and effective.
Consumers are always looking to simplify their lives and so it will become increasingly important for tech companies to start developing and building on visual and voice recognition technology, which will ultimately disrupt the algorithms of some of the major search-related platforms.
Blockchain has been around for some time now, but how does it add value to digital marketing and how will it affect the industry? The benefit for advertisers will be that agencies can start excluding empty bot clicks and other threats that may saturate a campaign. Advertisers need to know that it’s real people engaging with their ads to protect the integrity of their campaign data and prevent wasted money in the long run. If we get this right, consumers may then have an opportunity to start selling their data to brands – talk about the tables being turned!
Anything is possible and what a time to be alive in a tech-driven world, constantly being challenged to think outside the box!.
The best advice for marketers: think, slow down and future proof yourself. Understand what is going on around you and become adept to rapid changes. Pick your battles, but educate yourself to challenge your agency to ask more pertinent questions, and ask for the consumer insights.
Although digital innovation, tech and trends happen at a rapid pace, the crucial thing is adapting. To reiterate, storytelling is a big trend to engage with consumers – great content drives behaviour change, along with the use of using micro influencers, and the introduction of blockchain means guaranteed views with tech that’s being trialled overseas at the moment. I anticipate it to start filtering in throughout 2019.
Jarred Mailer-Lyons is head of digital at The MediaShop and Kgaugelo Maphai is managing director of the Johannesburg branch.
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