With the first work week of 2017 in the books, top executives at social media advertising agency Adaptly shared their thoughts on what the rest of the year will bring.
The rise of social disruptors and importance of differentiation
Vice president of strategic accounts Ruth Arber:
New platforms like Snapchat are changing the way we talk to friends and share content. Snapchat has altered the user experience and disrupted the social sphere by changing the way users relate to each other on social, and now Snap Inc. has the potential to disrupt the product sphere. Spectacles could be one of the more tangible and realistic internet of things products, and they have already begun changing the purchasing experience with their pop-up vending machines.
Co-founder and CEO Nikhil Sethi:
More of these companies that were pure platforms will begin to build hardware. We’ve already seen this with Spectacles and Oculus. Pursuing hardware creates new formats and more types of experiences for people, which will ultimately create more advertising opportunities for the platforms.
Apple is a huge underdog in this space because people don’t necessarily include it when they talk about Facebook and Snapchat, but Apple has something that competes with them at every level. It has iMessage, one of the biggest messaging applications with features similar to Facebook Messenger; it has one of the biggest camera apps with filters like Instagram and Snapchat; it has iTunes with capabilities that rival YouTube. The only challenge is that there isn’t a network in place for sharing those things, but that’s only one step away. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them enter the VR/augmented reality space in the next year, as well.
Something that has less obvious marketing implications is the evolution of the car. As cars become more autonomous, it frees up so much time that will go into using walled gardens instead. If you have an hour commute and you’re no longer doing the driving yourself, you’ll start spending that time on Facebook. There will be more ad loading, more consumption, more data creation. The amount of time the average American spends in a car is huge. Collectively, if you remove the amount of time spent actively engaged in transit and give it to something else, that creates a huge uptick in platform usage, which further compresses out-of-home television, print, radio. It moves all of that time into walled gardens.
Walled gardens will continue to take a bigger share of advertising budgets. In particular, they will steal dollars away from traditional mediums. The loser in 2016 was print, and the loser in 2017 is shaping up to be television. Especially with formats like Stories emerging, which are linear distribution channels similar to television, ad dollars that would be devoted to TV ads will increasingly go into walled gardens.
Client partner, Europe, Middle East and Africa Emily Huff:
Increasingly, brands are realizing that the days of solely relying on organic social are over, with recent reports showing lower-than-ever reach figures on both Facebook (2 percent) and Twitter (3 percent). As a result, digital marketers are likely to increase their focus on paid social initiatives while continuing to explore platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat. As more brands begin to understand the unprecedented potential to connect with and engage consumers through social, I expect to see a correlating increase in spend on paid social; not only on Facebook (which so far has been the dominating platform) but also on the more recently established channels.
The opportunity to own live TV streaming on social is up for grabs, and we can expect to see every major social player compete for it. Cord-cutters have created an opening on mobile that platforms can fill if they are able to dominate TV networks looking to reach unplugged viewers. So far, Twitter seems to have the best handle on livestreaming, with deals with every major sports league and several networks. Snapchat moving to a licensing model with its Discover publishers suggests that it has an eye on becoming a content media channel.
Account director, Europe, Middle East and Africa Milana Saric:
2016 was the year when Facebook made its live broadcasting feature available to all users. Next year, I expect we will see a significant increase in advertising spend on boosting livestream coverage on the platform. Video has long been one of the vital elements of social media marketing, especially for building brand awareness, and we will see brands utilize Facebook Live for branding purposes by engaging users in current happenings and events. Moreover, Snapchat has proved to be an enormous hit with U.K. users and businesses alike, and it is set to keep on thriving as a new and exciting advertising platform next year. Real-time communication focused on in-the-moment and live content is likely to see an increase in advertising spend across all verticals, ranging from filters to video ads within the Snapchat user feed.
Senior VP of media operations Matt Burgoon:
87 percent of consumer use second screens while watching TV, often to participate in a larger conversation around a live TV event. This behavior has created an exciting opportunity for social platforms to provide a full viewing experience through livestreaming. Twitter in particular, the go-to platform for live events, has the ability to bring user content together with live video to give viewers comprehensive coverage without forcing them to split time between screens. Keeping an eye on social conversations about a favorite team can distract users from watching the game itself, but by placing related tweets and trending content alongside the action, Twitter is able to put all relevant game-time content in one place. While sports livestreaming on the platform is still in its early stages, there is potential for Twitter to integrate with any sports league app through smart TV apps to provide the fullest viewing experience to fans and bring them closer to the heart of real-time content.
Privacy will be a key focus for messaging apps in 2017. Facebook is building out capabilities for brands to reach out to customers via Messenger, but there may be friction there with users actually welcoming unsolicited contact. There is a lot of potential in that medium, but the challenge will be scaling up those products based on user adoption.
Messenger will be a key opportunity for businesses looking to increase customer service. Using bots instead of customer-service centers would be extremely cost-efficient.
VP of partnerships Kyle Benedetti:
Messenger represents one of Facebook’s biggest opportunities for 2017. It will be interesting to see bots’ presences grow and how advertisers will use them to interact with customers in a way that is not intrusive.
Brands can’t afford to ignore that fact that an increasing number of consumers are migrating to messenger apps such as Facebook Messenger, Slack and WhatsApp. Therefore, I expect to see marketing and advertising opportunities arise in this space. 2017 will be the year of greater paid social platform diversity and also the rise of messenger app marketing.
Virtual reality will continue to evolve, but not necessarily to practical purposes yet. Eventually, Facebook Workplace and Oculus have the potential to intersect and connect businesses by getting people more or less in the same room, but for now, Oculus is just a fun way to explore a new medium. All of the big players are moving into VR, so we can expect to see bigger and more practical advances take shape in 2017.
VP of product Kristen Donnino:
Of all the walled gardens, Pinterest has truly carved out a definitive and unique niche for itself as a search and discovery platform, and I see its trajectory as really nailing down the best way to approach the consumer purchasing journey. People come to the platform searching for something, so Pinterest’s greatest value is making that something–be it a sweater, a lamp, a hotel stay or a recipe–easy to attain.
Privacy and security are going to continue to be big concerns in 2017, primarily because we can expect to see the number of hacks to increase. It seems like every day, a new site is hacked and the credentials of millions of users are leaked. This uncertainty may lead to people to fear their behavior being tracked online. If users start opting out of letting advertisers understand their full purchase journey, which is the holy grail for advertisers, that will affect their ability to provide full-funnel marketing solutions.
There is a lot of fraud going on at the moment, and we can expect to see the government get involved to start cracking down on this because it does hurt the consumer in many ways. This fraud will ultimately have a positive effect on the world of paid social as it will move dollars toward environments that are more transparent. Transparency will win at the end of the day.
A potential benefit to President-elect Donald Trump getting his way with moving foreign capital back to the U.S. will be that companies could suddenly potentially have billions more dollars to spend, and that will put a lot of the juice and muscle back into marketing. That juice could also change the initial-public-offering market for these companies and potentially create a better market than the current, lackluster ad tech IPO market. There is a new wave of companies getting ready to go public that represent stronger, more profitable businesses. If they do go public next year and do well, that will change the whole investment cycle in ad tech and hopefully push more money in, which means more innovation, more startups, more jobs–better solutions for marketers, basically.
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