1. Character Counts
If Ron Burgundy has taught us anything, it’s that giving your brand a voice, and bringing that voice to life with a fictional character, can pay dividends. Popping up on everything from Dodge Durango ads to ESPN segments, it’s nearly impossible to escape his legendary charm—and finding new and creative ways to introduce this character in unexpected ways only serves to surprise and delight us further. Brands like Dos Equis, Dollar Shave Club, Reebok, and Old Spice have unlocked this value and, in the coming year, I not only expect to see more character-based advertising, but cross pollination of message, medium and context to bring these spokes-folks to life in new and memorable ways.
2. This time, it’s Personal
The promise of one-to-one marketing is fast becoming a reality. With online retailers logging our every purchase, brick and mortars pushing rewards programs and social media constantly capturing our likes, hobbies and life events, the convergence of data collection, audience segmentation and target messaging is getting very granular, very quickly. Insert offers at (or near) the point of sale by leveraging mobile or augmented reality, and the promise of one-to-one marketing, begins to take shape quickly. It’s not only the Holy Grail for advertisers, but if handled properly can be of incredible value to customers as well.
3. The Classic Tagline is Dead
Our short attention spans are getting shorter as evidenced by the 24-hour news cycle, 6-second Vine videos, 140-character tweets and taglines with a much shorter duration than was previously the norm. In fact, we’re seeing the longstanding, commit-for-a-decade “brand line” being replaced by the “campaign line” which lasts approximately two years as companies shift gears to seize new opportunities, evolve to deal with competitive threats or target new audiences—all of which fuel the need for nimble messaging.
4. It’s Time to Get Emotional
Emotionally-driven advertising is making a comeback. Recognizing that we are primarily emotional vs. rational creatures is a step in the right direction. Think of the best ads you’ve seen or experienced in recent memory. Chances are, they spoke to your emotions in some way. A few great, recent examples include the British Airways billboards that show a child pointing to departing planes. This really activates our sense of wonder and curiosity. Or look at the new spot from Pantene that is running in the Philippines. It is a brilliant play to our sense of fairness and equality. Or how about the immensely successful Ron Burgundy campaign for Dodge? Make me laugh and I’ll listen to anything you have to say. Feed me a bulleted list of features and benefits and I’ll be snoozing before you’re halfway finished.
5. Short is Sweet
Micro videos like Vine and Instagram :15s made a huge splash in 2013. But how will brands take this sub-medium and turn it into compelling storytelling? In a world where consumers’ attention spans keep dwindling, these short bursts of creativity hold a ton of promise. Some brands have started to scratch the surface, like Doritos and General Electric. But can 2014 be the year these videos feel less like a gimmick and more like a legitimate advertising channel? Time will tell, but rest assured, our creative teams are already on the case. Stay tuned…
6. Augmented Reality Check
Augmented Reality—is this the year we finally start to see a widespread use of this absurdly cool technology? We’ve certainly seen some awesome applications, from the whimsical (Starbucks) to the fantastical (Lynx Angels) to the practical (Jenn Air). But there is still the lingering sense that this is all a lot of work for not a lot of payoff. Can Google Glass be the link that turns AR into a mainstream technology? The promise of Google Glass is a nearly seamless experience—less pointing and waiting and more experiencing. Bringing the wonder of AR right up to our eyes may be the key to making it a part of our normal, everyday experience.
7. The Social Premium
With nearly 25% of the world’s population in registered users on monetized social media platforms in 2013, the value of a social media strategy has gone from questionable to undeniable. Due to the inherent virality of interactions with brands though social media, fan pages are quickly becoming the most effective way to learn anything about a brand, from reviews to product information and judge consumer relations. Wanting to ensure a positive experience, fans are not being answered by interns of that department, but rather upper management. Social media is quickly blazing a trail for consumers to have a higher quality interaction, and potential for habitual interaction more so than ever before. This is what I like to call the “Social Premium” or enhanced resource allocation put toward social media interactions.
8. Go Mobile
25% of people aged 18-44 cannot remember the last time they did not have a smart mobile device by their side. 79% report never being more than 2 hours without their smart phone per day. 983 million smart phones were sold in 2013 alone. Additionally,it is estimated that over half of all social media interactions are now solely done on mobile devices. With mobile-centric platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest said to be the fastest growing social media networks, it’s hard to believe that this trend will not continue. For 2014, the sprint will be for brands to identify the strengths in activating on mobile devices verses on traditional PCs. This mobile device windfall also promotes another fascinating insight: people are electing to interact with brands as a source of entertainment. This phenomenon really has never been experienced before in any traditional media. With talk of major U.S. cities, such as Los Angeles, adopting the idea of municipal Wi-Fi, this connection will grow to another dimension with time.
9. Straight to Video
While supposed to be launched in 2013, Facebook still plans to roll out auto-play video advertisement in 2014. Despite inherent risks of alienating users, Facebook stands to net $1B from this introduction. More than additional advertising, the instant play video capability could stand to change the entire way that we consume social media. While the initial idea may be only for “Jo-Blow Brand” to put up a 0:15 second spot that can be exited in 5 seconds, the implications are profound. Embedded instant play videos in the newsfeed could allow video content to be exponentially more accessible for casual users. Video views could be more aligned with general reach numbers that are, on average, 10-15x the amount of what we see in current video plays.
10. Content is Still King
The other big topic right now is content marketing. Yes, content. The importance of content isn’t changing and will be bigger than ever in 2014. According to Social Media B2B, companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those who don’t. Expect it to continue to be the most effective way of establishing authority and gaining trust with your customers. You’ll need to make sure you have a solid content marketing strategy that will ensure that you are continually creating valuable content through a variety of channels.