It is no secret that in 2014 consumers will be more dependent on smart applications than ever, and that the success of brands will depend on their ability to advertise effectively on mobile devices. Users are currently ahead of marketers in their omni-channel behavior: mobile usage has skyrocketed, but mobile advertising spend has not kept up with usage rates.
For brands there is a tremendous opportunity to engage with their targeted audience with not only mobile but also the latest technologies available to mobile, especially artificial intelligence (AI). Doing so would present new possibilities for you to create more complex and targeted digital campaigns.
In 2014 and beyond it is crucial for you to reach and entice potential customers cutting across all channels.
We are already hyper-aware that consumers are becoming increasingly discerning when choosing products or services. Mobile devices and digital mediums have nevertheless offered us the opportunity to engage and retain our customers.
The capabilities of mobile applications and cutting-edge platforms are continuing to expand beyond using simple rich-media ads to analyzing digital content and harnessing ambient data such as temperature, location, user movements, schedule, user habits and engagement. Accordingly, we are presented with the opportunity to create more advanced and targeted marketing campaigns.
I've outlined three key trends that you should make use of this year to make the most of the evolving marketing and advertising landscape—and ultimately take advantage of the opportunity to foster better brand awareness and growth by creating loyal customers.
1. Quantified Self Goes Social: Social Tracking and Personalized Advertising
As consumers, we've all certainly become aware of the trend of the quantified self: It's likely that we know someone who wears a Jawbone bracelet, tracks workouts with mobile apps such as Strava, or shares on Facebook the details of their daily activities from their Fitbits. It's no longer a trend merely for early adopters; it has caught on among the wider population.
As a result, a massive amount of interesting data is available for brands. You can take advantage of the data that consumers have willingly shared via their tracking hardware or social media to offer highly targeted and personalized products and services.
For example, by using shared data from a Nike+ band, you would have the insight to know about a particular user's physical activity preferences. If the user practices yoga three times a week, you could present them with promotions for yoga gear or apparel; if the user prefers jogging, you would present them with advertisements for running shoes and apparel.
2. Second Wave of Wearable Devices and New Virtual Assistants
Starting in 2012, we saw first editions and prototypes of wearable devices. From Google Glass-like devices to Samsung's Galaxy Gear smartwatch, consumers were introduced to multiple prototypes of wearable smart devices. As we began to see at CES this year, wearables in 2014 will offer massive improvements in usability, purpose, and design—with specialized virtual assistant apps designed to work with the new ecosystem of wearables.
Those apps will work with the limited user interfaces by using more ambient data and will likely have a large voice component. As these devices can aggregate a greater variety of information from their users, they can provide a more bespoke and personalized experience for users.
Specialized virtual assistant applications will be designed to work with this new ecosystem of highly intelligent devices, and they will become more widely available. For example, Siri as we know it will quickly become an antiquated technology as new AI-powered assistants will proactively be assisting and offering recommendations for users.
You will need to be prepared to offer these types of services for your customers. For example, retailers will launch applications that integrate with these devices; and by using ambient data to inform recommendations, virtual assistants will create truly loyal customers for retailers on entirely new mediums.
3. Facebook Will Mature Into a Marketing Machine With AI
Though Facebook has recently undergone a drop in usage and popularity, it is undoubtedly still the most wide-reaching social network in the world. Facebook's greatest advantage is the opportunity it has to become "smarter"—via analysis of the massive amount of user data—to become a highly advanced marketing machine. Facebook will use that opportunity to monetize via more intelligent and extremely targeted advertisements.
Recently, Facebook announced high-profile hires for its AI-driven project, signaling that it is investing significant amounts of resources into machine learning. Clearly that's an indicator that in 2014 Facebook may finally be able to harness all of the data that its users share through artificial intelligence—data that goes well beyond classifiers such as location or Likes, and delves into a unique wide array of personal preferences through decoding wall post texts, shared articles, and browsing.
As end-users, we will notice the amount of targeted ads within our feeds, possibly even outnumbering the amount of relevant friend updates. If Facebook successfully uses it AI resources, those ads will be specially selected for each user and will be much more welcomed than the ads we see today. Thus, you should begin looking to Facebook as a more serious avenue for ad spend.
Reaching Consumers With Mobile
Today's consumers are more discerning than ever before. Luckily, for brands, mobile technology has come a long way in the past few years, and mobile devices now have extensive capabilities.
In addition to analyzing digital content, mobile devices can harness ambient data such as temperature, location, user movements, schedule, user habits, and engagement. You need to be able to harness those new capabilities and sources of data to create more advanced and targeted marketing campaigns to reach potential customers.
You must also note that you have the opportunity to take advantage of the massive amounts of data on customers that the mobile and digital world presents. AI technologies offer a great opportunity to capitalize on this data and create truly targeted, relevant campaigns and advertisements.