We have entered a new era in which digital innovations are more individually relevant than ever before. Technology has always been people-centric, but it has transcended from task-driven tools to discovery mechanisms that fuel our motivations and lifestyles.
Many of the changes we’re seeing come to fruition this year are born from the idea of the “Internet of Self” (IoS), which Mike Elgan of Computerworld defines as the convergence of connected devices and biometrics. This connection allows marketers to gain access to more precise data and leverage a deeper understanding of exactly who their customers are, their authentic habits, desires, and relationships and, in turn, learn how to reshape business models to their preferences in a highly personalized, diverse, and predictive fashion.
Here are Laughlin Constable’s top ten digital marketing and advertising trends to look out for in 2015 and beyond:
01 THE INTERNET OF SELF
What it is: According to Elgan, IoS is the blend of the “Quantified Self,” the concept that biometric sensors track health and behaviors, and the “Internet of Things,” the concept that connected objects communicate with each other without conscious human involvement. Data is collected from your body and sends information and commands to objects in your life to create an individually tailored experience.
How it’s being used: According to Autoweek, Volvo is creating in-car sensors that monitor driver alertness and distractions that could prevent them from focusing on the road. The technology also recognizes the driver’s dimensions and automatically adjusts seats and mirrors as soon as they get behind the wheel.
Wearables are another example – clothing and accessories that connect sensors with devices and advanced electronic technologies. They will be the ultimate form of integration to transparently monitor health, location, and behavioral information.
02 BIOMETRIC MARKETING
What it is: Unique human traits and behaviors are being used to authenticate identity through the science of biometrics. With sensors being embedded into everyday objects, and the use of these objects growing rapidly, the ways in which customers can experience and interact with brands are transforming.
How it’s being used: Instead of typing, clicking and swiping on computers, smartphones and tablets and requiring the traditional username and password credentials, we are seeing forms of interaction through embedded voice recognition, fingerprint sensors, expression, and movement and gesture systems. These are now being used to access confidential information, enter buildings, and make payments. As customers become more comfortable using their hands, voices, eyes, or movements to converse with technology, the IoS will continue to evolve.
03 BEACONS + THE ADVENT OF HYPERLOCALITY
What it is: Beacons are a geo-targeting game-changer. They are small, low-priced pieces of hardware that use a low-energy Bluetooth connection. The technology detects customer location and pushes relevant and useful information to nearby mobile devices.
How it’s being used: Beacons are renovating the ways in which retailers, restaurants, sports stadiums, transit systems, airports, museums, and educational institutions connect with people indoors by giving them the ability to send hyperlocal messages and content based on a person’s exact location. For instance, someone may be at a museum looking at a specific exhibit and receive a push notification with additional information about the artist or specific pieces they’re looking at.
04 CONCIERGE TECHNOLOGY
What it is: Virtual concierge technology is the idea of leveraging advanced customer data in order to customize and enhance services and experiences offered to customers. It’s really all about making users’ lives easier by using data to better serve and support them.
How it’s being used: For example, tools and services that suggest what items you should buy for your home based on where you live, what you own, your personal style and members of your household. Through IoS, these types of recommendations are getting significantly more intelligent (and automatic).
05 ENHANCED FILTERING + SMALLER NETWORKS
What it is: People are becoming less focused on the mass broadcast ideology and more focused on intimate, private networks. As people refine their social networks, they seek out users and brands that add value to their lives. Users are seeking targeted, group-focused communication and information exchanges. Brands will start to have more individually significant propositions to get their customers’ attention by means of their common interests, lifestyles, and ways of enhancing intimate conversations.
How it’s being used: Apple Watch has a feature in which users can send each other their heartbeats or a custom drawing. Ephemeral (display content for a short time then self-destruct) social networks, such as Snapchat, Skype Qik, and Vine, allow for a more confidential, low-risk exchange of content.
06 TRUE OMNICHANNEL MARKETING
What it is: Omnichannel is a multichannel marketing approach that provides customers with a seamless experience across all touchpoints on- and off-line. The term has been thrown around as a buzzword for cross-channel done well, but it’s more than that. Due to our incomplete and fragmented data, it hasn’t truly come to fruition. IoS is changing this, as digital and traditional channels and CRM databases are merging into one tracking structure to touch users across the entire decision journey.
How it’s being used: Examples are often that the mobile app should match the responsive design of the website, which should thematically reflect the look-and-feel inside the store. However, true omnichannel is when data is collected and leveraged across channels and brands in order to create seamless continuity.
07 THE COLLABORATIVE ECONOMY
What it is: The Collaborative Economy is a socio-economic system built around the sharing of human and physical resources. It involves the shared creation, distribution, trade, and consumption of goods and services by multitudes of people and organizations. Great brands of the Collaborative Economy have proven to consumers that, with the right structure, they can depend on shared services more than ever.
How it’s being used: From Airbnb to Zipcar, the newest generation of users realizes the cost-benefit of a sharing society when it comes to luxury items; thus, they are getting smarter with their money and sharing costs and responsibilities with others.
Crowdsourcing has become intertwined into marketing strategies across industries. Brands are empowering customers by allowing them to dictate how the business evolves and expands. When information about products and services is shared, the value of those goods and services may increase for the business, individuals, and the community. Access to startup capital is becoming simpler with the success of crowdfunding for business services such as crowdSPRING and donation sites for entrepreneurs and those in need, such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and GoFundMe.
08 THE ASCENT OF THE SOCIAL SUPERAGENT
What it is: Today, we are all about sharing advice, experiences, tips, and personal stories. Bloggers, YouTube and Instagram stars, and digital producers are becoming more influential than celebrity endorsers. It’s about those who have fans with the most loyalty more than those who have the most fans. Their influence (and fees) continue to rise as they realize their power to shift brands.
How it’s being used: Visual storytelling from real people will be employed by brands to strongly communicate engrained philosophies while engaging and cultivating consumer communities and amplifying equity. With an increased use of rich content and media, visual stories crafted for marketing purposes will be able to spark a customer-driven movement, inspire emotions, and send a clear message about the brand to its evangelizing communities.
09 ENGAGEMENT AT A PRICE
What it is: A few years ago, social was the cherished “free” platform for companies to inundate their target audiences with their advertising messages and attempt to “engage” with them in their communal space. With that notion, floods of brands added social to their increasingly complex marketing mixes. That day is gone, as 2015 marks the year when Facebook, the social network with the highest saturation of brands, is expecting their organic reach to drop near 0%. In turn, social will become true media as we know it – a place where brands pay to play.
How it’s being used: The result? Some brands will be forking over the money to get in front of users. But their strategies within social become less about “engaging” and more about getting their messages in front of their target audiences, in addition to using the space for transparently handling customer service needs. Other brands will be finding different places to play (e.g. owned branded platforms and communication channels and engagement in niche communities / groups).
10 DIGITAL CURRENCY + ePAYABLE TECHNOLOGIES
What it is: Digital currency is an internet-based form of currency or medium of exchange that allows for instantaneous transactions and open transfer-of-ownership. ePayable technologies are a form of virtual payment, where you can pay for a good or service without the need to physically use money or credit cards.
How it’s being used: Digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Amazon Coins are reinventing currency, including who holds the power and how that money moves around globally. Users can now work around banks to pay for and exchange goods. With ePayable technologies, wallets and cards will be used less as mobile apps will take their place. With the help of Google Wallet and Apple Pay, mobile transactions are about to become the new normal. People can now sync their credit and debit cards with Samsung Wallet or Passbook and make purchases by simply by placing their phone in front of a sensor at checkout.