7 Key Trends of Advertising
There was a time, not long ago, in advertising when you knew who your competition was when promoting your product or service .
They offered the same services more or less, charged in around the same as you and looked and talked pretty much like you did.
Now however, advertising changed.
There are changes happening all around PR firms. Media buying agencies have hired creative folk, digital experts, content generators and sponsorship strategists.
Traditional below the line agencies are now offering social media and digital, some consumer PR and influencer engagement, while Creative agencies have hired PR experts, social media experts and more.
PR agencies on the other hand are now delving deeper into brand strategy as well as offering new services such as creative, video, digital and design.
In addition, the more traditional corporate and Public Affairs agencies in many cases own the relationship with the CEO and are guardians of the reputation and strategy, and are now in competition somewhat with management consultancies in some places.
Your competition set is now far more complex and diverse.
This isn’t going to go away in the next 12 months so you need to think differently about who you are competing with and how you differentiate yourself.
Convergence of a different kind is also a threat to PR agencies. As companies expand their service offerings, especially in technology, clients and potential clients start moving into a conflict space.
Reputation is Key
“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” – Benjamin Franklin.
Reputation management will become even more important on the list as a primary PR service in 2017.
It has been there already, but in a very fluid and volatile world, its importance is ever-increasing. From media coverage to political changes to cyber-attacks to social media to online reviews, businesses, governments, organisations and individuals will rely on communicators to build, protect and enhance their reputations.
As one commentator put it, these issues need emotional intelligence and skill and cannot be solved with one-click algorithms from firms who send out generic responses to complaints.
This new dawn requires thoughtful consideration from communications professionals.
PR firms need to look to enhance their skill set to provide deeper and more accurate reputation auditing, reputation management and reputation recovery services, in a coherent and sellable way.
The opportunity is significant.
Data is Everything
The key for 2017 and beyond, is to show the insights that led to that idea via research and to illustrate through data the impact this idea may have.
An idea on its own is simply that. An idea. A standalone tactic. It is easier now than ever to collate data, especially from the internet to back up an idea or concept or tactic.
You will need to use data to drive your PR campaign including getting to know your audience based on the stats you know about it, figuring out which type of content you have created, disseminated or posted is most popular and determining the best time to post based on when your audience is online.
This seems obvious and some have been doing to for several years.
Data is essential for measurement too. Measuring the impact of your PR campaigns has continued to evolve with the digital landscape, and today we are able to more accurately measure the engagement, reach and results of PR efforts.
As consumer trust in advertising weakens and even trust in traditional media is showing signs of decline, some reports now say we trust so-called “influencers” as much as close friends.
This seems particularly true in those age groups that have not embraced traditional media and have grown up in a mobile first world.
Recommendations from strangers and social media stars dominated much of 2016 and is likely to get more sophisticated as brands move away from throwing freebies at over exposed social media influencers who jump from brand to brand, adding little value to the brand or their own brand outside of guaranteeing eyeballs.
Seeking those who will really resonate with their target audience and who are really aligned to the product or service and values.
A partnership approach can be agreed, whereby the influencer can leverage the brand for their own career purposes and the brand leverage the influencer for authenticity.
Finding authentic advocates who actually connect with their followers and your target audience is the new guide. …not just numbers and not just ticking a box.
Authentic voices will take the spotlight and deliver results for brands and this needs to be embraced and not scorned. Influencer marketing rules will be tightened up and this particular form of engagement with target audiences will become a firm part of most consumer and social activation plans.
Influencer marketing is entering the difficult teenage years but is here to stay. If done correctly, then everyone can benefit.
Video is now the star. However, how public’s consume media and stories has changed. As our day-to-day living becomes more and more visual, video has been a top trend for a few years.
Recent research shows that the average person watches at least one video every day and so it’s success, especially on social media comes as no surprise
One report even optimistically suggests that by 2020, 75% of mobile traffic will be video.
What is a fact, is that live video is racking up billions of views on Facebook, Periscope and other platforms.
Live video exploded in 2016 and will continue to dominate conversations next year. It will continue to be a key asset in reaching your target audiences.
With that comes its own challenges. Such is the level of video content consumers are now saturated with, some hold the view that you now have a window of just three seconds to grip your audience.
This is an even greater challenge for brands in 2017. The content must be eye-catching and snappy.
There is obvious evidence available to start using video and other visual tools – such as infographics, images and slide shows – in your advertising campaign.
It used to be press releases, statements, opinion articles, blogs, speeches and photography captions. The rise of sponsored and “bought” content provides a massive opportunity.
Sponsored content, paid for content and advertiser generated content is something that is not going to go away, especially as ad blocking continues to rise and revenue streams are open to accepting content from a trusted third-party.
Instead of fearing this, there is a need to embrace this. Buying media space is one thing. Writing and creating content that readers will actually want to read is another. The ability to bridge this gap between what is commercial and readable is critical to attracting loyal followers and subscribers you actually buy stuff.
Good commercial content can and should be valuable and readable. Advertisers and media buyers simply cannot provide this function. This gap can and should be filled by good content generators.
SEO and Advertising
The missing link to bolster ad campaigns and optimized content may be the search knowledge behind content. SEO and advertisements will continue to align more closely in 2017 so all content published addresses the key messaging, is of high quality and optimized for search.
Real Time Response
You now have hours and sometimes minutes, and you have to be prepared. Real-time responses will be among the big trends next year.
Good social media experts have been doing it for years. This will now become less the exceptional and more than norm. Consumers are now getting used to getting instant responses from brands and seeing them react quickly to events, and you will have to live up to their expectations and be ready to pounce in a way that doesn’t jar or look too corporate.
If you are on social, you need to be “on”.
Real time PR and “news jumping” is here to stay. The same applies to crisis management. The first “holding” response needs to be early and needs to be on message and tone, even in the absence of all the information.
Empty vacuums filled with inaccurate voices and misinformation can have a disastrous impact in a crisis making the need for a real-time response even greater.
Employer Brand and Thought Leadership
What differentiates one company over another when the basics of salary and hard financial benefits are similar?
The days of free food and fancy table tennis tables attracting young talent are on the way out. Companies are looking to tangible CSR programs, value based propositions and even treats and experiences via sponsorship properties to attract talent and retain.
A relatively new PR trend I envisage coming more to the fore involves companies and their key executives becoming thought leaders.
The need to earn the attention and trust of your audience by showing that you are an authority on a particular subject is important.
Expect to see more authoritative articles, blog posts, email newsletters and videos that educate clients and potential clients. You will likely witness thought leadership pieces that are created on behalf of clients being driven by data and analytics.
The content will engage audiences and articles should be optimized and promoted for search to grow traffic.