The evidence and industry expertise tells us that digital transformation will take a firmer grip on companies in the coming years, and it’s a trend we’re seeing among our own client base. Many organizations believe that by 2020, half of their revenue will be influenced by digital in some way. Meanwhile, studies suggest that digital transformation - across industry and society combined - has the potential to create up to $100 trillion by 2025. A failure to achieve digital change has also been marked as the number one reason why half of Fortune 500 companies have disappeared since the year 2000. The message for brands is clear: evolve or face extinction. As agencies, we can’t take a backseat during this evolution.
Three technologies will grab a larger share of influence during 2019 - those of Artificial Intelligence, The Internet of Things, and Blockchain.
Artificial Intelligence: Consumers have already embraced AI through the likes of Apple’s Siri, Amazon's Alexa and other variants, but in the coming year we will see AI being adopted for much more than finding a song and predicting the weather. Instead, we’ll see a greater focus on 'transactional' AI driven applications (like chatbots) being put to everyday commercial use, such as travel booking (like Mezi) or the screening of job applicants (such as Mya). The overlap of Big Data, Data Science and Analytics with AI is a major trend for us to follow in 2019.
Blockchain: Blockchain will also move forward beyond digital currency creation, which merely scratches the surface of its capability. More and more, we’ll see the technology bring greater operational efficiency by automating business processes or digitizing records. The applications that will soon be infused with blockchain technology have the potential to dramatically improve the security of shared information among known entities, while also improving opportunities for the tracking of physical and digital assets.
The Internet of Things: Meanwhile, IoT is influencing our lives in more ways than we likely realize. The number of connected devices, wearables, vehicles, and other applications is skyrocketing, and will only continue to rise. With the launch of 5G, these devices will become much more connected and influential in our lives, shaping more of our daily decisions, predictions, and behaviors. Brands will be forced to shape experiences accordingly. In that capacity, intelligent homes will go mainstream as more smart home products become available to customers. Smart cities will evolve from delivering solely cost reduction benefits, such as LED lights or better waste management, to better citizen engagement and revenue stream opportunities. For example, violation detection, information broadcasting, crime detection and analysis, and other opportunities from technologies like image recognition and machine learning. Further change will come from advances to IoT sensors, which will optimize the use of data collected via key equipment and processes, especially in sectors such as aerospace, defense, and others.
“The message for brands is clear: evolve or face extinction. As agencies, we can’t take a backseat during this evolution.”
Our main focus will be on digital communication that drives demonstrable impact to brands’ bottom-line.
With over a third of the world active on social media, global Internet penetration of over 50%, and mobile penetration of around 70%, there’s no question that the digital world has forever changed how brands communicate.
The real question is: are brands using digital channels to the best of their potential? To drive real impact that influences the bottom line of their business. The last few years saw growth in the number of digital communication capabilities, which when adopted correctly by brands, have had a massive impact. I see a number of capabilities continuing to have a significant influence in 2019.
For example, social activities that move away from fan and follower growth and driving brand engagement (which have low to no value) towards social programs that drive business impact and are built around effective KPIs.
We’ll also see a sharper focus on well-crafted social content that’s built for purpose and fueled with a constantly optimized and evolving paid media strategy. This content will need to push a compelling call-to-action and have the creativity to break through the clutter, driving users through the sales funnel from awareness all the way to loyalty. The re-targeting of customers across the stages of this funnel ensures that brand messages are communicated to those who show the highest interest in the product or service. Integrating such a highly targeted social approach with owned channels such as web and mobile ensures that the most engaged audiences are reached, guaranteeing higher conversion.
What’s more, 2019 will be a year where social drives more interactions based on key triggers such as birthdays, anniversaries, and specific audience actions (for example, content consumption or online purchases). These moments will trigger personalized messages for individual consumers, increasing interactions with the brand on the other end.
Social is also one channel that enables effective performance-based marketing. When combined with other channels such as paid search, programmatic, content syndication, and email - and everything is underpinned by a smart strategy that enables crossover between multiple channels – the results are significant. Real impact can be seen across B2B and B2C where content generates leads and drives greater conversion.
With exposure to over 5,000 brand messages per day, relevance and personalization have shifted from nice-to-haves to must-haves as personalization has proved effective. Businesses that use personalization technologies are reporting average sales uplift of 19%, and improved marketing ROI of 15 to 20%. 61% percent of consumers also feel more positive about a brand when marketing messages are personalized, while 53% are more likely to purchase when digital communications are personalized. With the advancement of web platforms, brands are now expected to provide a personalized experience that delivers the right message to the right user on the right device at the right time. The experience has to reflect the users' device-hopping behavior throughout the day, and underpin an omni-channel approach to marketing and communications.