Updated: May 21, 2019
It’s no secret that U.S. consumers spend much of their day engaging with digital content across various platforms, devices and channels. That level of online engagement is expected to continue to rise, especially with the explosion of emerging technologies, which paints a picture of a world where digital content is everywhere. The upshot? Companies will need to completely redefine what qualifies as content and evolve their content marketing strategies accordingly.
1. IoT for utility and ease
Gartner predicts 20 billion IoT devices in use by 2020. This signals an opportunity for brands to serve up utilitarian and entertaining content and experiences to consumers across an array of devices, some of which haven’t been created yet. Imagine your refrigerator keeping record of what it contains and recommending what to prepare for dinner. AI behind the scenes will remember your selections and optimize recommendations. Retail and fashion brands also will reap IoT benefits, particularly as Wi-Fi-enabled smart mirrors grow in popularity. We’ve already seen early tests with smart mirrors in stores. Consider the “wow” factor of consumers owning their own smart mirrors and the opportunities for brands (think: personalized recommendations) that are invited into their homes.
2. Multi-surface screens will redefine engagement
This year’s Consumer Electronics Show highlighted that multi-surface screens will be a big trend. The immediate opportunity will be in cars. IHS forecasts the cockpit electronics market will hit $62 billion by 2022. Early examples of brand integrations enable customers to place orders for pickup, make reservations, and even purchase gas from their dashboard screens. Starbucks, Shell and others are testing this functionality. With nearly 10 million self-driving cars expected to hit the road by 2020, drivers will become more like passengers, giving rise to an era of in-car entertainment and on-demand services. Digital screens are also appearing in unconventional places, such as purses and coffee tables. These advancements will breathe new life into out-of-home advertising and influencer marketing. Screens everywhere will mean new opportunities for hyper-local, personalized experiences that can cut through all the online noise when coupled with mobile. For retail, it will mean getting closer to blending the physical and digital worlds, providing insight into a more dynamic customer journey.
3. Intelligent UI to assist with tasks and understand context
While we will see more screens popping up, technology such as voice also points to a future of devices with no user interface—i.e., touchscreen, mouse—at all. Zero UI devices in the form of smart speakers and voice assistants are already here, and their use for purchasing is rising. The opportunities for advertisers in the financial space will be especially tremendous. For example, if you were out shopping and were considering a purchase that seemed expensive, imagine asking your watch, “Can I afford this $200 item right now?” and having your financial institution respond on the spot with an answer. Understanding emotion will be key in delivering personalized and relevant content and experiences. Healthcare brand MetLife has been doing some early tests in understanding consumer voice patterns using artificial intelligence and machine learning to assist call center workers. By recognizing words and emotions, it coaches workers to pep up their tone or respond to caller distress.
4. Biometrics will take personalization to the next level
Traditionally, biometrics the technical term for measurements and calculations of human characteristics have been used for identification. But as consumers become more comfortable sharing this very personal data, customer experience and personalization opportunities will abound. Brands are already testing the possibilities. Expedia tapped into facial recognition during a partnership with the Hawaii Tourism Authority. The campaign featured a microsite with images and videos of different activities. With the viewer’s permission, facial recognition software identified which footage evoked the best reactions by detecting emotion. Viewers were then offered a vacation package based on their biometric feedback.
I expect major developments ahead, especially with smart billboards and other signage that pull in high-level information about the people passing by to serve up relevant content. Additionally, sensor technology, which is already in use in smartwatches and fitness bands, has the potential to enable insight into heart rate, blood glucose levels and more. Think of the opportunities for a retailer in using biometrics to measure how customers feel in-flight or in-store. Retail personnel could receive an alert when a customer is feeling nervous or frustrated so that they could react in real-time. Emotional intelligence is already top-of-mind for marketers today. As consumers become more comfortable with sharing this information, the opportunities to apply emotional intelligence to customer experiences will be what sets them apart.