The new year is almost upon us and it is important to note that trends and behaviors aren’t committed to calendar years.
Behaviors don’t know when the new year is ending and when a new one begins. But in a world where we write for algorithms and news feeds more than real people, I have to title this piece appropriately so it gets enough engagement to be seen by real human beings. Human beings are habitual creatures by design. We learn when we are able to compartmentalize information so it stews in our hippocampus. So, what awaits brands this upcoming year? What should you plan for or at least have on your radar? Here are five emerging areas I’m tracking that will have a major effect on how brands operate in 2017.
1. Headphones as the new user interface for advertising: This is an area we know exists because of podcasting but apps which have always been built on a visual interface will now be built around audio with instructions telling you what to do or interactions. This opens the door for brand voiceovers in this new landscape that will be designed by those entering the emerging field of audio UX. This is a field that understands linguistics, language, how people speak (think the recent film “Arrival”) and also has a background in audio engineering. While you may think people wearing headphones in your open floor office are simply anti-social, brands realize that is untapped space that no banner ad can reach.
2. Content marketing that places emphasis on more questions than answers: Most content marketing usually is actionable by design. It tells the user what to do and even gives three actionable items. Most blog posts are written this way and most presenters at conferences are asked to always present actions for the audience. But in 2017 we are reaching a new era where we need to ask more questions about what we’re doing and how that changes very quickly due to technological changes. As a result, many pieces of content in 2017 should have brands asking more questions about what people do and why they do it. It will be to inspire others more than to tell people what to do. That type of learning is best left to the 19th century where it was first created. In the 21st century the Socratic method will roar back and help all of us answer our own queries. Brands will simply be the catalyst.
3. Conversation bots as a platform: Bots are here. They changed the game in the U.S. election and they are rampant on platforms like Twitter. So why should brands care? Because let’s say I’m Brand X and I have Brand Y as a competitor. Would it be easier for me to spread disinformation about Brand Y using influencers who are real people that I need to pay or by amassing and launching a bot attack where I am spreading disinformation? Software eats the world in this scenario and bots can become an army that feels human even if it is programmed. We’ve seen how this works and it may be why we see some brands no one has heard of take over legacy brands in a matter of months and not years.
4. The death of the CMO: Chief Marketing Officers were supposed to be the voice of the customer who sat at the board table and made sure the CEO, the COO and others in the C-Suite understood the customer. Now most of them drink the brand Kool-Aid and simply act as advocates who act vindictively on behalf of the brand instead of on behalf of the customer. Sure the title may be around for some time in the near future but CMOs that don’t understand what motivates their customers using a combination of small data insights and actions rooted in emotions hold zero power because they are too embedded and blinded by their own brand. The CMOs that act on behalf of their customers will be rebirthed as Chief Experience Officers since experience and not marketing is at the core of everything that matters in business moving forward in the 21st Century.
5. Fake news will destroy “Too Big to Fail” brands: Many brands who think fake news is an issue of politics that only is relegated to a platform like Facebook don’t understand the power in cyber-attacks. Brands have been so busy trying to act human that they don’t realize real humans will bring them harm in the form of libel, slander, stolen data and misinformation. All it takes is for some fake news to circulate about how a brand product is deficient to bring that company to its knees. Forget what the perpetrators motivations are since many may do it simply to see if it can be done. The question is have you thought about what your reaction plan is in this scenario?
Written by Geoffrey Colon at Branding Strategy Insider