Trends — the big 17 for 2017

Matt Whiting @mattwhiting, Head of Insights, Bite

We’re still in Happy New Year mode at Bite so want to share our 17 trends for 2017. From tech breakthroughs, to a new consumer hunger for connecting in the real world, the Bite insight team have it covered.

1. Personalisation — It’s been here for a while but it will continue to be the must-do for brands when it comes to ensuring they engage meaningfully with their customers. More than 200 million people are now using Adblocker, so sick are they of being spammed by companies they may or may not have shown an interest in, so it’s a wake-up call for brands to invest in data-driven and programmatic solutions. One size never really fitted all and it definitely won’t in 2017.

2. Immersive visualisations — Nothing new here you may think but if this month’s CES is anything to go by, expect bigger and better technology to give brands new ways of engaging via a unique experience that gets them remembered and talked about. Research firm CCS Insight believes that AR and VR devices will surpass 10 million users by 2020. Driven by a raft of new headsets set to flood the market, it is all about immersion in every sense with creatives able to let their imaginations run riot to transport people to fantastic worlds. With new VR platforms, expect to see a multitude of games created not just by traditional gaming brands, but by others that want you to inhabit their world… and buy their stuff. Analysts Forrester agrees that AR/VR will change the game, and 2017 will see further experimentation and important niche applications to provide design beacons.

3. AI — As Big Data becomes even bigger in 2017, thanks to an ever-growing range of IoT-integrated sensors, sites and apps tracking behaviour, companies will increasingly turn to computers to make the most of that data. Machine learning and deep learning, subsets of artificial intelligence, will make sense of this data to come up with recommendations — from serving ads to making health recommendations like never before in the next twelve months. Analysts IDC says that by 2019, 40% of all digital transformation initiatives — and 100% of all effective IoT efforts — will be supported by Cognitive/AI capabilities and that this year, 30% of consumer-facing G2000 companies will experiment with AR/VR as part of their marketing efforts.

4. Getting to know you — 2017 is the year of customer experience. Brands will continue to do everything technologically and legally within their power to better understand what will actually attract and retain customers. Companies will mine public and private data all in the name of serving more relevant ads, developing more engaging videos and creating more compelling products. Digital analytics will go into hyperdrive and customer journeys will take centre stage.

5. Make it snappy — Short-lived content is here to stay and while some marketers feel a need to make their mark with content that can gather dust, it is the rise in content that disappears after a short period of time that is satisfying the fickle moods of consumers. Even the biggest, most traditional brands need to think short and sharp, using platforms like Snapchat if they are to remain relevant.

6. Video — With Facebook announcing its video-first strategy, it seems the world is waking up to the power of imagery, moving and otherwise. Dovetailing with the rise in innovative 360 film techniques, from brands such as Jaunt, it is set to be everywhere. We know attention spans are shrinking among consumers, and not just the go-getting trailing millennials. Experts say we’ll now give brands an average of 37 seconds of our time when it comes to viewing static content. How much better to get the same message delivered in less time via film, in a more dynamic way.

7. Social-first — While social media certainly gets a huge share of blame in the rise of fake news and political decisions that are related, if not the cause in many cases, it’s importance will continue to grow in the coming year. We have already seen increasing budgets being allocated across all social media, particularly in the more conventional B2B arena. In short, 2017 will see this gather further pace, with brands expected to up their game in the way they present themselves in the social sphere. Expect to see individuals too upping their game when it comes to marketing themselves on the likes of LinkedIn. IDC believes that in 2017, the average user of social and messaging services will spend more than 20 hours per week engaged across various screens.

8. The new authenticity — Authenticity has long been important in social media activity, but in 2017 experts predict there will be a hunger for more unfiltered truth. Given the unpredictability of 2016, where many of us were quoted as saying “you couldn’t make it up”, 2017 could see a move away from lyrical storytelling and instead a focus on cold, hard truths. Jonny Geller, joint CEO of publisher Curtis Brown, says: “I think people will want undiluted stories that reflect their lives, experiences and emotions — unfiltered.”

9. Spurning the superficial — Patience with over-inflated claims and products that aren’t that great has been growing thin in recent months (read: This $1,500 Toaster Oven Is Everything That’s Wrong With Silicon Valley Design). This will only increase in the new year. People are sick of overconfidence and gimmicks in gimmicks that don’t actually improve their lives. Look for more outrage against the hype machine to come.

10. Spot the bot — While some claim that bots will only ever be able to help with the basics, an increasing sophistication in their development should see the number rise dramatically in 2017. Analysts at IDC say that by 2020, 40% of e-commerce transactions will be enabled by cognitive/AI personal shoppers and conversational commerce.

11. Content to get involved with — Static content is so last year. Now it’s about content that invites interaction. Think of a high-tech version of the old Cosmo quizzes. Well, BuzzFeed has done very well out of creating this type of infotainment. Getting people involved can lead to challenging their peers via social networks, so you have shareable content that works harder.

12. Bait and switch be gone — Clickbait has long infuriated internet users and has even, arguably, spawned the exponential rise of fake news. People are no longer clicking on headlines just because they look appealing. Clear headlines that deliver and don’t deceive will help to regain that lost trust.

13. Who you know not just what you know — The rise of the influential blogger/vlogger/instagrammer shows no sign of abating in 2017. Celebrities may feel old hat for product or service endorsement, but it’s often the power of their established social channels that can help spread advocacy, and quickly. Be warned, these guys don’t come cheap, but get the right fit with what you are trying to achieve and they are worth their weight in gold. It’s all about getting their buy-in so their trust is passed on.

14. Getting out of your bubble — Zuck’s not the only one who wants to know what people around the world are actually thinking and feeling. After the dismal state of social and political affairs in 2016, people want to come out from behind screens and spend more time getting to truly know their friends, neighbours and beyond.

15. Dial-up dinner — A talking fridge that can decide what to cook for dinner because it sends you an image of what’s lurking in the chiller section. Just one of the IoT ideas shown at this month’s CES among a myriad of nifty ideas. The IoT machine shows no sign of slowing and it will give brands an opportunity to be more closely involved in the way consumers run their lives.

16. Live it large — Live-streaming will continue to be an important tool for marketers building their brands in 2017. While Periscope was the pioneer, the arrival of Instagram’s live stream option shows it is becoming something we now expect rather than a nice-to-have. This also plays into the unfiltered authenticity that everyone seems to want more of this year.

17. Social good is good for you — Brands that align themselves with social enterprise — not for profits or charities — will continue to be seen as the good guys. With a world seemingly more divided than ever, acts of kindness from a corporate perspective will shine bright in the eyes of consumers. Lots are already stitching social good into their operations and there is a very real hunger among the hottest tech start-ups, in particular, to leave a legacy above and beyond what they do for a day job.

Missed anything? Let us know what you think 2017 holds in store @BiteGlobal