5 Must-Know Marketing Trends for 2014

As the year draws to a conclusion, we glide serenely into ‘prediction season’. This year, as last, we thought we may as well throw our hat into the ring and come up with what we think the trends to watch will be in 2014. Our 5 ‘crystal ball’ moments are below.Pictures Will Speak (Even) Louder Than WordsThis year has seen the launch of Vine and the emergence into the mainstream of Instagram and Pinterest. Even the 140-character dominated Twitter has put more emphasis on visuals. In short, it’s been the year that pictures spoke louder than words.Marketers will need to adapt to the fact that their world is becoming more visual. Of course, this is good news for luxury brands as they have beautiful things to showcase. And luxury brands know how to create great visuals, and visuals that tell a story rather than ones that just showcase a product.But the challenge will come from the sheer volume of visual content that brands will need to create.  An annual photo shoot for the Christmas ad campaign is not going to be enough to sate consumers. So the challenge is not one of ability, but resource. How will luxury brands overcome this? How far can quality fall as a trade off for quantity without impacting the brand? And will brands take the approach of Coca-Cola and look to recruit marketing staff with photographic or film-making skills into their teams?We’re All Going to Become More AgileThat’s not an allusion to the situation we’ll all be in on New Year’s Day – contemplating fitness strategies to shed those Christmas pounds – but more of a need to become more agile in our approach to marketing.The approach of planning a campaign in minute detail and then executing it to the letter, irrespective of customer-reaction, has always had its limitations. But in these days of real-time data and instantaneous customer feedback, it’s never looked like greater folly.The agile approach is all about interpreting data – whether it be internal or external – and reacting to it in real time to the brand’s advantage.For example, it could involve reacting intelligently and creatively to events that are impacting your customers, like Audi’s reaction to the SuperBowl blackout. Or it could mean constantly monitoring the effectiveness of your online advertising campaign and optimising it in real time.But in general it’s about planning in shorter cycles and taking a ‘test and learn’ approach. And it’s a great way to make sure your (increasingly stretched) marketing funds are working as hard as they can.Everyone’s Going to Go NativeNative advertising, a term only coined in 2011, has been on the rise.It’s advertising designed to fit into its context both in terms of form and function.  In terms of form, it’s designed to blend in to its editorial surroundings rather than scream for consumers’ attention.  In terms of function, it’s not designed to interrupt consumers from the task they’re trying to achieve, either online or offline, but to help inform them and move them onto the next stage of their journey.Why is it one of our trends of 2014? Because it works – both from our own experience and from empirical studies. Native ad formats are better liked by customers, attract much more attention than banner ads (and as much attention as the content itself) and have double the impact of banner ads on purchase intent.Publishers will release more native ad formats and smart advertisers will snap them up. But both parties will need to appreciate why the concept works – because ads are aligned with the needs of consumers – and not be tempted to just align form without functionality.Digital and Real World Are Becoming as OneWe see the digital and real worlds continuing to merge on many levels.Take good old outdoor advertising – how does this stalwart traditional interruptive advertising adapt itself to the digital age? It adds facial recognition to serve relevant ads to relevant consumers (by sex at least), it reacts to its location and temperature (when it’s been driven about on the top of taxis) and/or it allows someone who’s tapped their NFC-enabled phone to it to access content to take them on to the next stage of their purchase journey.What about the retail experience?  We’re seeing more blending of the best of real world and online. Now consumers can access more information on products in store  using their smartphones and tablets and can browse and order colours and sizes not available in store. Smart retailers are enabling them to do this via in store wifi, shopping apps, QR codes and kiosks.The next stage of this development may already be here with the Apple Store’s iBeacons – designed to send relevant information to shoppers in Apple’s Stores dependent on their location in that store.We see further developments in 2014 as traditional media and traditional retail tries to blend the best of offline and online to take on their internet only rivals.2014 Will Be The Year of Mobile AdvertisingMobile has long since arrived as a key marketing vehicle but mobile advertising has remained the poor relation in the digital advertising family.  In 2014, this is set to change.eMarketer predicts that mobile adspend in the UK will exceed £1bn this year, an increase of 126% over last year, and they predict it will at least double again next year to £2.26bn. ZenithOptimedia, in their new Advertising Expenditure Forecasts, are predicting that mobile will become a key driver, accounting for 36% of global advertising spend growth between 2013 and 2016 – and without significantly cannibalizing other marketing spends.We think this will be the year that mobile advertising goes mainstream.  And although we expect further growth from mobile search – the discipline that makes up the majority of mobile adspend – we expect mobile online display to become the driving force. That’s  because, as superfast 4G continues its rollout, interactive formats such as video will come to the fore.The challenge for publishers will be to deliver more holistic cross platform advertising offerings to meet this demand. The challenge for marketers will be to produce advertising that reflects the specific role that mobile devices play in their customers’ journey to purchase.