As technologies become increasingly advanced, the digital marketing landscape is in a constant state of evolution and we move one step closer to what was once deemed “science-fiction”. If you consider the recent rise of Artificial Intelligence, you will agree that the winds of change are certainly blowing. It is therefore crucial for marketers to be aware of the latest trends in this fiercely competitive industry and assess whether they can leverage any unique opportunities. As always, we are here to help and have chosen five hot trends that could shape this summer.
This is an emerging trend which allows consumers to search by using the image as the query and aims for search engines to not only recognise the image, but also to understand it.
We have already seen a number of big brands such as Pinterest, Google and Amazon invest in visual search technology and there have been favourable results. One notable example is Pinterest Lens, which uses machine vision to detect objects in pictures and return related photos. Last year, it was said to be receiving over 600 million searches a month. ASOS was also keen to flex its muscle in this market and released its own visual search tool called Style Match, which worked in a similar way to Pinterest Lens. It allows users to snap an item or upload an image from their photo library and receive instant product recommendations.
Although this technology is still in its infancy and text-based search currently remains the main way in which consumers find information online, we could see further increases in visual searches over time due to the lure of instant gratification and effortless discovery. A picture could actually be worth a thousand words in the eyes of the consumer.
The video streaming industry is estimated to be worth $70 billion by 2021 and live video could play a pivotal role. We have seen a clear shift towards this type of content and as a result, a number of live streaming platforms such as Instagram Live, YouTube Live, Facebook Live and Twitch are all now available to consumers and brands.
If used strategically, live video is still able to benefit brands in a plethora of ways such as creating content that oozes authenticity or providing a unique opportunity of real-time engagement with your target audience. One strong example of effective use of live video is National Geographic’s partnership with AirBnb, which involved providing viewers with exclusively live coverage of the Great American Eclipse. The campaign was a huge success and received millions of impressions across social.
Whether you want to use live video streaming for expert advice, a Q&A session, webinar or something completely different, it is set to remain a strong form of communication for brands.
If you are not already familiar, augmented reality (AR) involves using technology to superimpose interactive digital elements on a real world environment – are you still with us? Although it is not a completely new trend, it allows brands to provide their target audience with something that is unique, personalised and interactive and as we all know, just creating something that is personalised for a consumer in this noisy world is crucial.
One popular example of AR in action is Timberland’s virtual fitting room, which aimed to help customers who dislike the inconvenience of trying on clothes in the dressing room. Another notable example is the one and only Pokémon GO. Although it is safe to say the craze has generally cooled – unless you are still searching for Pikachu at your local Tesco – one of the game’s greatest achievements was arguably its power to immerse millions of players into an online experience and lead them about the world, which provided a treasure chest of commercial opportunities for brands.
AR remains a potentially lucrative option for brands and one key reason why it could outpace VR is the mobile phone that you are most likely using right now, if you’re a millennial that is! VR could be seen as being limited as it requires a headset for use, whereas AR is able to be deployed on mobile phones or tablets, thus offering an experience that is arguably far more accessible. This year, it will be exciting to see which brands can effectively leverage AR and build on the success of Niantic’s Pokémon GO.
With so many of us surfing the web on a daily basis, it would not be surprising if you have already interacted with a chatbot, or read that spooky story about Facebook’s chatbots communicating with each other in another language. But if you’re unsure of what a chatbot actually is, it is a virtual assistant that simulates conversations with humans, which can help a business in many ways such as saving time and most importantly, money.
Although they are not completely new to the digital marketing space, advances in artificial intelligence and in particular, Natural Language Processing (NLP), mean they are becoming increasingly smart at working out what users need and delivering a more interactive, human-like experience. NLP could be described as the secret ingredient for putting the “chat” in “chatbot” and allows a virtual assistant to comprehend what you are saying and how to respond to it.
We could see more businesses adopt this technology and Gartner’s prediction that “25% of customer service operations will use virtual customer assistants by 2020” is certainly possible.
Yes, it is unlikely that 50% of all queries will be voice-based by 2020, but the increasing popularity and usage of voice-enabled devices mean this type of search should not be ignored.
Talking directly to your device can seem strange but this behaviour has been adopted by more consumers due to its sheer convenience. Brands have also been testing the water and notable examples include people being able to order a pizza or an Uber via Amazon’s Alexa. Just like visual search, changes in search habits do not happen overnight, but as more consumers become more accustomed to using voice search, we could start to see real signs of a search evolution.
It will certainly be interesting to see how marketers leverage voice search opportunities and if you are wondering how to optimise for voice search, please take a look at our article which includes three useful tips!
As we can see, communication channels such as live streaming, chatbots and AR are still highly relevant and could increase in importance depending on consumer behavior or technological advances. Another key takeaway is to closely monitor the development of visual and voice search technology, which are both in their early stages but could soon start to have an impact on the way in which customers interact with your product or service.