What to Look for in 2017: Mobile, Video, AI

Predicting is a notoriously foolish undertaking, but here’s an easy call: That mobile device you’re reading this on (or is at least within arm’s length right now) will be the center of the media universe.

Predicting is a notoriously foolish undertaking, but here’s an easy call: That mobile device you’re reading this on (or is at least within arm’s length right now) will be the center of the media universe.

2017 is the year, after all, when mobile ad revenues are projected to eclipse their counterpart on desktop. Mobile is also expected to consume about three hours per day of the average consumer’s time.

There are other things happening in the advertising world, of course, but mobile will continue to be the focal point of all the action. As tools and data improve, marketers will aim to capitalize on the intimate nature of mobile as a medium. With a much closer read on consumers’ activities and desires, this will be a new landscape for marketers. Here are five ways marketing will evolve in 2017:

Social video ads will become the prime format

That’s not the same as making viral ads, though. Even mega successes like Evian’s Roller Babies and Old Spice’s Isaiah Mustafa didn’t do much for sales, anyway.

That’s why smart brands are designing videos that are created with social platforms in mind, while engaging consumers in more dimensions than just a cheap gimmick. Look for social video ads to take greater advantage of the platforms they run on, with features like custom challenges, promoted hashtags and influencer tie-ins. Video content is expected to drive 85 percent of search traffic by 2019.

Video is also projected to become 24 percent of the digital ad spending pie by 2020, up from 15 percent in 2016. Ubiquitous broadband and fast wireless networks are driving the trend, as are phones with ultra-fast processors, like the iPhone 7, and the popularity of Facebook, Snapchat, musical.ly and Instagram, where video has become the lingua franca.

AI and machine learning will enhance personalization

The nature of machine learning and artificial intelligence is that improvement doesn’t occur incrementally, but exponentially. Futurist Ray Kurzweil has predicted that we’ll see 20,000 years of progress in the 21st century rather than the standard 100.

For instance, the most consumer-facing component of AI–voice recognitiongets better and better because it is able to learn from millions of consumers at once.

Applying this horsepower to marketing personalization, we can expect to quickly see improvements there, as well. No more retargeted ads for things you’ve already bought, for instance, and ads will become so smart that consumers will find them helpful, rather than creepy.

Vertical video will challenge horizontal for dominance

Way back in June 2015, Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel made a case at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for vertical video. His reasoning was solid: Most people are viewing video on their smartphones these days and smartphones are designed to be held vertically.

While this makes intuitive sense, desktop and TV have a horizontal orientation. That said, recent research has shown that vertical videos have a 90 percent completion rate, versus 14 percent for horizontal. Stats like that will convince more marketers to try vertical.

In 2017, vertical will become more of an alternative format than a curiosity–a trend that will continue throughout the decade. Combine these vertical videos with the social horsepower of point No. 1, and you’ve got a hit.

Influencer marketing will get smart

Influencer marketing jumped the shark in 2016 as public fails like Scott Disick’s inept Instagram promotion and Naomi Campbell’s variation on the same convinced many that throwing money at celebrities with large followings but no affinity for the brand was a dumb idea. The Federal Trade Commission’s and Facebook’s sudden interest in influencer marketing was also evidence that the jig was up.

That’s why marketers will usher in a smarter version of influencer marketing in 2017 that relies on “micro-influencers” who might have just a few thousand followers, but greater credibility and engagement with their niche audiences. This long-tail data-driven strategy will outperform the “spray and pray” types of influencer marketing.

‘Continuous context’ will become a reality

Did you see that ad on desktop or your phone? For a consumer, the likely answer is, “Who cares?”

Cross-device tracking may still be a hairball for marketers to untangle, but from a consumer’s point of view, there’s no real delineation between screens. With the proliferation of smart devices in our lives (watches, glasses, voice-activated speakers, etc.), the best marketers will use multiple signals to understand customer context and the purchase process.

As cross-device targeting improves, expect marketers’ messages to evolve to become nuanced in their frequency and sequential in their messaging. If a multi-screen campaign isn’t moving the consumer through the purchase funnel, then you’re doing it wrong.

Josh Ong is director of global marketing and communications at mobile tools provider Cheetah Mobile.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.