Digital Marketing Trends to Watch Out for in 2015

As 2015 approaches, we all begin to look forward to the new opportunities that might await us in the months ahead. What can digital marketers expect to see in the new year?

To answer this question, ClickZ spoke with industry leaders from Havas Worldwide, J. Walter Thompson (JWT), and Tribal Worldwide, as well as LinkedIn, Tumblr, and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) to learn their thoughts on the largest trends we can look forward to in 2015.

2014-matt-weiss-heroMatt Weiss, Global Chief Marketing Officer, Havas Worldwide

If I have to suggest what digital marketers should focus on in 2015, I’d say one word: “ideas.” First- and third-party data, personalization, omni-channel, multi-channel, collaboration, platform infrastructure, dark digital, connectivity, mobile, and on and on. The list of buzzwords and subject matter will no doubt relate to the rapid adoption of mobile and how we connect with consumers in an age of personalization. But I’d like to point to something entirely different, something that may or may not make headlines that are buzzworthy. One word: Ideas.

Regardless of the who, what, why, or how of marketing, there will always be “ideas.” Powerful. Motivating. Insightful. Brilliant. Expansive. Without a platform-level idea to drive unification across marketing activity, marketers are left with tactics, tricks, and one-offs. For me, 2015 will be the year of the idea-powering activity across paid, owned and earned channels. “Ideas” will motivate consumers to action and create a competitive durable advantage for those marketers who understand what lies at the center of a buzzword-driven marketplace.

jinalshahJinal Shah, Global Digital Strategy Director, J. Walter Thompson

I think we’ll see a few critical conversations climax in 2015.

First, regarding content. the last two years saw the shift from clients asking “why should we do content?” to “how can we do it?” 2015 will see an accelerated continuation of the “how” with newer models of operationalizing content programs and ventures. We will also see a positive shift toward high-quality content. I think both brands and agencies will demand that from one another. Mediocrity is simply not going to cut it anymore.

Video will continue to gain momentum, both long forms and microformats. Instagram is already hinting at introducing more visual communication tools and features. As a result, we will see brands rethink and polish their own visual vocabularies. SiSoMo (sight, sound, and motion) is going to replace SoLoMo (social, local, and mobile)!

The second, close on the heels of the first, is the return on investment (ROI) in content. Brands are, and rightfully so, eager to convert their fan bases into active customers. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest are all platforms of influence and brands will look to activating these toward transactions. I think budgets are going to move from brand teams to digital or tech teams to program transaction-driven campaigns and drive sales.

Marketing automation is also going to gain stronger interest. More brand marketers will be involved in technology investment discussions with their IT and analytics teams. Marketing technologies such as Adobe Analytics, Marketo, and Gigya should see higher investment and also broader understanding and usage across the clients. Brands will make a stronger push toward developing a single-profile view of their customers across devices, channels of shopping, and social platforms to engage in better one-on-one personalized communication.

rich-guestRich Guest, President of North American Operations, Tribal Worldwide

I think there are a number of things we can expect in 2015.

First, due to the abundance of data and benefits of technology – dynamic creative and programmatic – large marketers who viewed themselves as “brand marketers” will infuse more and more “direct marketing” thinking into their efforts.

In addition, the combination of exponentially increasing needs for digital content and flat budgets will result in an agency inventing a new model to fund content production. Because of the proliferation of social media platforms, brands have to produce more content and ad formats on a daily basis. And although there’s a crossover between your fan community on Facebook, your fan community on Twitter, and your fan community on Pinterest, you don’t necessarily want to push out the same piece of content across these three platforms on the same day. So you need to produce almost the same amount of content now to be really relevant in the digital world. Unfortunately our clients’ advertising budgets are not increasing exponentially. Instead, most clients’ budgets are flat year over year. So the question becomes how to produce relevant content with the same amount of money? The traditional content production model where agencies and production companies get paid upfront fees regardless of how a piece of content performs, is an increasingly unsustainable model. So I believe that lots of agencies will be looking at how to produce content differently and how to help clients produce content more efficiently with the same amount of money. In the future, they may test more performance-based models with their clients, such as cost-per-share, or cost-per-like.

The third point I want to talk about is as Facebook shifts itself toward more of a traditional media property, marketers will seriously question their investments in both social media and community management. Facebook has changed its algorithms, and its organic reach (free posts, essentially) is going down nearly 4 percent. So the value of those posts are shrinking. Also, when you think about paid media on Facebook, the company is encouraging marketers to think more about how to play video ads or more high-value produced static pieces. Obviously with that increase of cost per production, some marketers may spend less on their social media communities.

penry-price-headshot-colorPenry Price, Vice President of Marketing Solutions, LinkedIn

This year has been about social and content coming together to become a truly integrated marketing strategy. Brands ramped up their content marketing efforts in a big way, and I expect 2015 will be about quantifying and benchmarking their efforts. Depending on their goals, marketers should be prepared to assess and reassess their content strategy to make sure it maps back to their original goals. For some, it’s about the sheer quantity of followers, and for others, it’s the quality of the conversation they are driving. Some may evaluate it as a lead generation source, while others are assessing it in terms of pipeline contribution and revenue won. Whatever the mission, it’s important to have a long-term view that evolves into results.

maxsebelaheadshotMax Sebela, Creative Strategy Manager, Tumblr

I think in 2015, we will see two major trends in terms of content creation. First, brands will change the way of how they partner with others to produce content. Brands are so increasingly in need of not just content, but content that comes with impact alongside of it, both from a consumer level and from a point of influence level. If we look back to 2014, this subject was so big. And next year, I think we will see more resonance in brand content which is produced in conjunction with both platforms and a point of influence.

There has been a pressure of publishing content constantly in the last few years. I think now brands are moving from being a content publishing arm, being making content all the time, to being more selective and working with the right people to produce beautiful and impactful stuff. Because consumers cannot just get enough content that they can resonate with. For example, some brands have worked with social celebrities to build engagement into their content.

The second major trend is we are going to see a big increase in different kinds of video production that brands are able to do. Obviously in the past few years, video has made itself the most precious asset to brands. I think it’s because different content creation apps exist. And because of various lines of video content, such as short-form video, looping video, and video exclusive to mobile, brands can finally be able to step in and play in that space. In the new year, video will have to figure itself out: What is the video mechanism that is big to the Internet? It’s not just pre-roll video, and it’s not just commercial. I think we will finally see video find itself, through the loop, through the play and through all the things that technology has brought this year.

annaAnna Bager, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Mobile and Video, IAB

I’m looking forward to a few things in 2015. In the mobile space, 2015 will be a key year for gaining a better understanding of measurement in mobile as well as cross-screen. We will be able to get a clearer picture of growing mobile media consumption among consumers, potentially shifting buyer perceptions and behaviors in the process. In addition, there will be increased interest in the areas of mobile programmatic and mobile data.

In terms of video, I think we will be focused on providing meaningful guidance around video creative and delivering, including frequency capping and ad skipping best practices. Meanwhile, there will be a rise in original content production – often from unexpected sources. This uptick will help solve for the current “lack of inventory” problem and potentially drive the industry ahead in creating better business models and further increase monetization opportunities.

Are you working on your 2015 digital marketing plan? If so, we hope this roundup can help you prepare for the year ahead.

Homepage image via Shutterstock.

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