Having recently shared my
top five priorities for 2017 I now want to take a look at some of the predictions made by the teams in terms of our core service areas – SEO, web development, social, paid search and digital media.

2016 witnessed some exciting developments and I believe the following themes should be on your radar as you plan for the year ahead.

Interactive Advertising

360 video, virtual and augmented reality (AR) is becoming more readily adopted by brands and publishers alike and as we move into 2017, this form of immersive storytelling is clearly coming into its own. The success of Pokemon Go has undoubtedly had some impact on this but there’s no doubt that the fully immersive experiences offered by these formats allow brands to develop deeper connections with their audiences and as a result has the potential to elicit action.

A great example of this in action is the ad campaign by the NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) which used an AR billboard to demonstrate the power of blood donations. Members of the public were given an iPhone which used AR to replicate the process of a needle going into their flesh. The smartphone appears to be taking the participant’s blood while virtually filling up a bag of blood on major ad screens in Birmingham and London. At the same time, the patient on-screen goes from looking unwell to a picture of health to help deliver this powerful message.

The Potential of Video

Video was the fastest growing ad format by 67% in the first half of 2016 according to the
IAB/PwC Digital Adspend H1 2016 report. And as people continue to consume video, TV and film on their smartphones, our prediction is that video will be at the forefront of many marketing strategies this year. It’s important to note that brands are being made to think outside of the traditional TV format since this doesn’t always lend itself to online viewing, where attention spans are typically limited and sound may be muted.

Not only can video tell a brand story more powerfully than other formats but it can also work extremely well among mobile audiences and aid in the conversion of sales.

A Change of Attribution Modelling

Towards the end of 2016 one of the biggest developments has been attribution modelling. Google have been pushing a new model into AdWords and Doubleclick – the idea of Data Driven Attribution.

We will see many companies begin to step away from the more traditional models such as last click, time decay or first interaction and instead look to DDA, which provides another way of looking at how important each interaction point is for post campaign analysis.

Hyper Local Search

As hyperlocal advertising becomes ever more prevalent, there has been an exciting development – one which is particularly relevant for any business on the high street. Google have launched ‘store visits’ which means there is now a way to tangibly measure when paid search activity results in a physical visit to the store.

As consumers increasingly come to expect content to be personalised to their particular needs, brands need to be able to track potential customers both on and offline.

The technology sitting behind hypertargeting is constantly improving so it may not be too long until we start to see Minority Report style advertising.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing was without doubt one of the buzzwords of 2016 and for good reason. Whether the influencer is a huge YouTube star such as Zoella or what is commonly known as a micro-influencer, who typically has a smaller following (between 10,000 – 100,000 followers), brands are able to tap into new audiences online and showcase their messaging in a more authentic way.

By working with influencers, brands can create authentic content while making a genuine connection with the audience.

While the laws around payment and disclosure are still considered to be grey areas, there are a number of influencer groups who already insist on payment in return for promoting a brand’s content. It’s therefore fair to say that just as you have to pay for social posts to be seen by the masses, the same will apply when it comes to influencers, especially those who are more established. It’s therefore become a channel in its own right, and brands will need to budget for this in their marketing strategies.

The Rise of the New (Virtual) World

Given that VR can be a significant investment for brands, and isn’t something to rush into, it’s key for brands to be clear about the story that they’re telling, and how it can be vital to users. Charities such as The National Autistic Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK have successfully used VR to generate awareness of their causes.

2016 also saw the launch of a number of devices, such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, which are now available to the population alongside the likes of Google Cardboard and HTC Vive highlighting the burst of VR technology.

Improved User Experience

Progressive web apps, better known in the industry as PWA’s are user experiences that Google classes as combining ‘the best of the web with the best of apps’. They are reliable and load instantly, are fast at responding to user interactions, and are ideal at engaging the user through a more immersive experience.

These PWA’s are entirely focused on the user experience and increasing conversions. Our Head of SEO, Jonathan Moore, believes that Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) will continue to grow, resulting in increased viewability and engagement and that this will be used in conjunction with PWA’s. Watch this space.

Subtle Pop-ups

Google is getting tough on intrusive pop ups that appear when you first load a page. These types of pop ups provide a poor user experience and can cause a real headache on mobiles and tablets, especially when it becomes difficult for the user to get rid of them and view the content that they were trying to access in the first place.

We expect there will be a noticeable decrease in the number of Newsletter sign-up popups, and a big reduction in terms of the space they occupy on screen.

Opting for HTML Over Native Mobile Apps

Now that HTML can perform many of the same functions that only an app downloaded in an app store could do, there is less of a case for choosing a mobile app over a webpage. In fact, there are standard APIs in mobile web browsers for accessing camera, speakers, vibration and so on.

HTML apps can be more cost effective while offering just as much functionality, plus your product is much more likely to be discovered via Google.

It’s important to remember that while the channels may have changed over the years – the way audiences consume your brand’s messaging will continue to be on screen. It is after all the oldest visual and audio content available to the masses, and while it can be easy to lose sight of this, the same principles of broadcast should apply – your messaging should serve a purpose, whether that’s to educate, inform or entertain.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick tour of what to look out for in the coming year. If you want to chat through any of our predictions, then please give us a call.