6 Digital Trends in 2017 That Will Redefine Influence and Interaction for Marketers

Edelman Digital makes its annual predictions

In 2016, we've seen mobile completely redefine how people interact with one another as well as with brands. And while social and mobile have had an indisputable impact on marketing, communications and business, in 2017, we're going to see old dogs with new tricks in areas such as content mixed with new dogs who want to change the game all together. Here are a few areas we've identified as part of Edelman Digital's annual trends predictions for 2017.

Kevin King

Conversational experiences
Messaging apps are becoming the new second home screen. Why now? There's a chatbot revolution going on, and it's primarily being fueled by the adoption of chatbots by major social and messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, Google, Microsoft Skype, Salesforce, Slack, Twitter DM, WeChat, Kik and Line. Now that there are billions of daily users of messaging platforms who are accustomed to engaging with brands in the feeds, the platforms hope they will enable marketers with the ability to scale creative 1-to-1 engagement opportunities called "conversational experiences." These conversational experiences will bring together past revolutions in ecommerce and text services while highlighting the potential of artificial intelligence.

Immersive content
2017 is going to mark a turning point in the way audiences interact with and consume video content. Through the releases of the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PSVR and Niantic Labs' Pokemon Go on Unity, virtual reality and augmented reality became important technological breakthroughs in 2016. In 2017, we anticipate significant improvements in immersive devices as well as software. Also, look for efforts from brands with skin in the game to make using a headset culturally acceptable.

Influencer marketing
According to eMarketer, 2017 is predicted to mark a major milestone for digital advertising—for the first time, digital spending will surpass that of TV. So where will those dollars go? Considering the challenges marketers face with bot fraud, ad blocking, social algorithms and general skepticism, influencer marketing will play a renewed and central role in the marketing mix for 2017. Influencer marketing isn't new, but it will mature in 2017 as we see brands not only partnering with digital savvy Snapchatters and YouTubers but co-creating original content that can't be found anywhere else.

Blockchain
What Uber did for on-demand auto transformation Blockchain promises to do for financial transactions. And with $1.4 billion in venture-capital money in the past three years, 24 countries investing in Blockchain technology for government services, 90-plus central banks engaged in related discussions, and 10 percent of global GDP to be traded via Blockchain technology by 2025-2027, it is important that marketers understand the potential implications for their business. We believe Blockchain technology will be a part of The Next Great Flattening and removal of middle-layer institutions.

B2B
Under increasing pressure to demonstrate tangible ROI on marketing and communications investments, business-to-business brands continue to adopt techniques including account based marketing, or ABM, marketing automation and advanced targeting. In 2017, we see B2B marketers aggressively moving away from basic awareness metrics toward identity-based KPIs that attribute high funnel marketing activities to downstream sales engagements and revenue generation. While some B2B brands will continue to experiment with emerging consumer-oriented technologies and platforms, we believe ROI pressure will lead marketers to seize ownership of the overall customer experience and create strategic alignment across marketing, communications, sales and IT. 

Sizzle meets steak: balancing what works today with what will work tomorrow
There will be no shortage of steak or sizzle in 2017. As influencer marketing for example matures, brands will measure it with the same rigor applied to traditional, or "tradigital," media. Content that has largely become a commodity for brands and consumers will strive to dazzle us in multiple dimensions, seeking to stand apart from the crowd. For marketers and brand managers, our remit is clear—we must master both the shiny and the substantial as part of our everyday roles and responsibilities. 2017 will be a year when we are tested on both fronts: being able to execute what we know works today with what we believe will work tomorrow.

Kevin King (@KingKevin) is global practice chair of Edelman Digital.