By Gavin Lacey

Digital Trends For 2017 That You Need To Know

What a year 2016 was: David Bowie, Prince and Muhammad Ali, all gone; Leicester City winning the Premier League; Ireland beating the All-Blacks; Brexit and Donald Trump… who would have predicted all that – not us anyway!

Our crystal ball may not have anticipated such an unprecedented turn of events (unlike The Simpsons) but it was spot on in predicting many of the digital trends of 2016 – the rise of video, the growth of mobile ads and a more tailored, specific approach of advertising to customers.

Here, we take out our grubby dishcloth and windolene and give our ball a good rub to see what 2017 has in store for us.

Trend 1 - The rise of Micro-moments

Mobile has changed everything. From the way we shop and the way we obtain information to the way we find potential partners – everything. This is a direct correlation to the rise of smartphones, which allow us to act on any impulse at any time, ‘whether we want to learn, find, do or buy something’ (think with Google) which is exactly what micro-moments are; reaching your customer at the exact point that they may need your product or service.

Micro-moments will become more and more prominent as brands try to reach their customers at the right place, in the right moment, at the right time by understanding what a customer needs in the specific moment and tailoring their approach towards this need.

Trend 2 - The rise of Facebook advertisements (Native advertising)

Native advertising is a form of disguised advertising that matches the form and function of the platform upon which it appears. This helps brands to give their ads a more natural looking visibility that is familiar to a consumer.

One of the best places to spot native advertising is on Facebook where sponsored ads fit seamlessly into the newsfeed and look identical to all of the other organic content that populates the feed. We predict that this will only become more popular, with more and more brands trying to mould their paid content to replicate the natural surroundings of organic content. In fact, native advertising is already becoming so prominent that a recent report discovered that, ‘most students can’t tell the difference between sponsored content and real news’.

Image of a native, sponsored advertising post from Facebook

As you can see from this Facebook ad, it looks extremely similar to the normal posts one would see on Facebook – this is a good example of native advertising as it fits in seamlessly with the organic posts around it.

However, we also predict that a lot of brands will fail spectacularly in trying to do so, as it can be a challenge to make content that does not look out of place in an individual’s news feed and can be quite jarring for the user.

Trend 3 - Quality content

Not a massive step into the unknown as far as predictions go, but still, a prediction nonetheless. Content is king when it comes to digital, but quality content is God. Quality content is no longer a quickly constructed blog-post, or a semi-funny joke that slightly conveys to what a user might enjoy, it has to be relatable, encourage engagement and insightful– which is harder said than done.

The online sphere is quickly becoming overpopulated with brands trying to have their voices heard and only the true quality content makers will be heard through the wall of noise.

Trend 4 - Augmented reality

It was the Summer of 2016, the sun was shining, the beach was full of people with their picnic bags filled with homemade sambos (which were covered in layers of cling film to prevent sand getting in-between the two slices of slightly stale bread) – but something wasn’t quite as normal as it seemed.

For some reason, the people who were walking along the seafront were also glued to their phones, swiping frantically and gathering en masse at certain points of the promenade.

Was this the covert mobilisation of a new socialist revolution? No, it was the rise of Pokémon Go – the augmented reality game that took the world by storm.

The Pokémon Go phenomenon may have subsided somewhat, but what has remained is the incredible potential that augmented reality offers for companies and brands that are trying to engage with their customers on a whole new level.

If you are still unsure as to what augmented reality actually is, it’s a live direct view of a physical environment though a device. In other words, it’s when virtual elements come into your world through the use of a mobile.

View of augmented reality app Pokémon Go being played in a seafronth setting

Not only is augmented reality now a viable way to promote customer interaction, it’s also a viable way to make big bucks.

In Nintendo’s second quarter earnings report it was revealed that the augmented reality game made a whopping profit of $115 million in the space of 3 months and had a halo effect for the company, ‘driving the firm’s hardware sales up by 19% compared to a year earlier’.

All we can say is – can you point us to the nearest poké stop please?

Trend 5 - Live video streaming

Even at the tailend of 2016, the rise of live streaming is very noticeable and we predict it will only grow in popularity in 2017. But what is live streaming?

It’s pretty much what the name suggests – a live stream of whatever you are recording straight into the newsfeed of your friends and followers.

Many media outlets and technology industries are providing ‘live events’ on Facebook to try and engage Facebook users in a real time and interactive manner.

The reason for the predicted growth in live streaming is because the real time aspect of video streaming adds another dimension to the continuing growth of video as a means of quality content.

This is why we predict live video will only continue to grow in popularity as it ticks all the main elements that were mentioned about quality content beforehand – it is relatable (as the user already follows the page), it encourages engagement (by allowing users to ask questions in real-time) and is insightful as it gives users nuggets of information they may not have known about before.

If you feel like you or your business is falling behind these digital trends then get in touch and we can bring you right up to speed.

Micro-moments will become more and more prominent as brands try to reach their customers at the right place, in the right moment, at the right time by understanding what a customer needs in the specific moment and tailoring their approach towards this need

Red Man Media

4 Adelaide Street,

Dún Laoghaire,

Co. Dublin