1digitalAs expected, marketing will mainly be affected by digital developments in 2017, whether considering data management, predictive analytics, AI, IoT, Dark Social, VR or AR. That’s why Asian eMarketing will give you an outlook of the digital marketing industry for the year ahead this month.

Of course, our industry will continue to focus on mobile with smartphone usage spreading further around the world and in the Asian markets respectively. With regards to online trade and commerce, businesses must react and optimize their digital marketing activities In particular for mobile applications. Not to mention that after "mobile first", the cross-device optimization must come to the fore. Companies must work on optimizing their content for other channels than mobile to make sure that the brand and service experience is the same across all devices and a consistent customer journey is guaranteed.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) finds its way into the sales pitch

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will as well remain one of the most important topics in 2017. According to a study conducted by Deloitte and the advertising service provider WARC, 55% of global market leaders believe that AI has a greater impact on marketing and communication than social media.

To some extent, AI is already used impressively by search engines and in the field of customer service. For instance, Google uses AI to properly resolve semantic queries and hotels started to utilize autonomous information robots for their guests.

In 2017, AI will for sure also increasingly be used in digital marketing to save resources as well as to respond to large-scale queries in a targeted way. For instance, Pegasystems, a provider of strategic software solutions for sales, marketing, service and operations, is convinced that AI will continue to drive automation in 2017 as the methods of artificial intelligence, such as those implemented in Siri or Echo, will be more and more used in CRM, such as automated chats. What’s for sure is that the boundary between personal and automated contacts will gradually blur. The service design consultancy Fjord, a subsidiary of Accenture, even sees the technology in the mainstream since AI-supported chatbots run on messaging platforms like Facebook messengers.

Although for most companies introducing artificial intelligence is still too expensive, experts foresee the spread of intelligent and natural language agents this year. With Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana and Apple Siri their predecessors are already on the smartphone and Amazon Echo shows with voice-controlled personal assistant Alexa how fast it is possible to penetrate the living rooms.

Content remains King, but needs to perform

Content Marketing will continue its rapid growth in 2017 and companies will use the new capabilities, especially mobile devices, to deliver content that is both useful and entertaining. Video, artificial intelligence (AI) or augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) will be the drivers of change while the focus will be on measuring the effectiveness of these formats.

While it has always been the motto to distribute as much content as possible via digital channels, no matter the costs, in the future, companies will aim to identify its ROI and try to find a reasonable balance of content quantity, frequency of publication, and topicality.

"Pokémon GO" has shown the enormous potential in the consumer market and now B2B business models are in the pipeline, which means that a AR breakthrough in the B2B industry is expected in 2017. Anyone who thinks the issue of digitalization is largely exhausted in the mobile sector with today's highly developed smartphones and mobile services is mistaken. It is quite the opposite, as AR especially enables brands in the retail sector to experiment more with the new technology trends in the future.

Advertising opportunities for messaging apps arise

Users are increasingly communicating via messaging apps, like WhatsApp in particular. Up to now there are no suitable advertising opportunities for these channels, but this is likely to change in 2017 - essentially driven by the takeover of WhatsApp by Facebook.

With the rise of chat- or mobile-focused messenger apps (like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or WeChat), "Dark Social" conversions that cannot be traced by marketers increase as well, so that companies are losing out on precious information.

Marketing Clouds will continue to spread

In 2017, companies will increasingly deploy complete suites from the cloud for digital marketing, such as Adobe, Salesforce and SAP Hybris. The reason for this is, on the one hand, the consolidation on the supply market, which has led to the fact that special solutions are increasingly being integrated into such complete systems. On the other hand, the companies benefit from the reduced complexity and simpler operation process of the suites.

Today's businesses must deal with a growing number of marketing technologies provided by different providers, which generate very large amounts of fragmented customer data. In trying to combine these diverse solutions, some companies turn to universal "one-size-fits-all-stacks" of the major cloud vendors, experts say, but reconsider their decision when realizing the solutions currently available on the market are not ideal. In 2017, it is therefore expected that more and more companies will seize the opportunity to create their own marketing clouds tailored to their specific needs. Furthermore, it can be expected that companies continue to focus on mixed approaches for their cloud strategies, which means choosing both Public and Private Clouds, both Hosted Services and On-Premise environments, and use the services of different cloud providers. In addition, vendors are constantly developing new features for cloud infrastructures, that way reducing vendor dependency.

Based on complete suites, companies will be able to collect and evaluate customer data more convenient on a uniform platform. This enables them to anticipate future interests with Predictive Analytics and to automatically display a corresponding digital advertisement at the right time.

The Internet of Things (IoT) will also play a more important role in 2017

According to a survey, conducted by the IT network Spiceworks, IoT devices will have the greatest impact on the IT workplace just like AI, not only because the data flows from the Internet of Things (IoT) will be significantly strengthening the marketing industry. For a long time, it was more a playing than business field, but by now the benefits that companies can derive from the data generated by networked devices and machines are starting to be overwhelming, since companies already link their CRM data with sensor data.

We will see, how messaging apps will open up new advertising opportunities this year, how artificial intelligence will change customer engagement and the "mobile first" era will continue to impact the digital marketing industry. New channels and new technologies will definitely bring some change. So, put your measures constantly to the test and calculate costs more comprehensively and in detail.

By Daniela La Marca