We’re living in a time of blink-and-you’ll-miss it technological change – and this will affect content marketing trends.
Less than 30 years ago, web 1.0 users consumed information-based content mostly as passive recipients but by today’s Web 2.0, typified by social media, has increased user interaction and self-generated content.
Now, mobile-friendly content is king, smartphones are decisively our preferred choice for going online and video rules because it’s easy to watch, accessible, engaging. The most recent Cisco Visual Networking Index predicts that by 2021, video will make up 82 per cent of all consumer internet traffic.
Now, as we evolve – or hurtle – into Web 3.0, immersive formats are set to dominate. As Stefan Hall and Ryo Takhashi wrote in a recent article for the World Economic Forum:
“We are at the cusp of a major revolution… employing augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR), which define the two spectrums of immersive technology that could replace mobile computing.”
What are the future content marketing trends?
New technologies create new routes to capture consumers’ attention but time and attention spans are finite. With the amount of accessible content growing with incomprehensible speed, there’s no escaping the challenge of capturing audience attention with your content marketing, This is a challenge that isn’t going away any time soon.
The best content will still need to work across a variety of platforms to reflect the way users want to consume and engage with it.
So content automation or artificial intelligence-driven content (AI), voice activation, augmented and virtual reality will all be high on the agenda of content marketers and other creators.
We’ll be taking a closer look at each of these popular content marketing trends on our blog in the coming weeks, but here’s a quick overview.
Trend 1: Content automation and AI
Everyone is optimistic about AI. Almost two-thirds of consumers believe AI will help to solve society’s challenging problems and almost three-quarters of executives see it as the business advantage of the future.
It’s already playing an increasingly important role in future content marketing trends. AI meshes with automation tools to maximise content’s potential – distributing content (blogs, video, social channels) in the most effective ways, providing insight into user interactions, and generating leads in the process, then personalising content further to nurture and nurse those leads. All those things content marketers are having to laboriously do by hand and excel spreadsheet at the moment.
The content still has to be great – AI and automation just make it easier to deliver.
Trend 2: Voice activation
The rise and rise of voice activated assistants has made Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant and co part of millions of lives worldwide, and the number is growing.
Research carried out by UK market research and consulting firm Ovum suggests there will be more than 7.5 billion such devices by 2021, around the same as the current world population.
Such a dominant technology clearly has massive implications for content providers as it reshapes consumer behaviour, moving away from a command-driven approach to something more sophisticated.
Voice activation is a natural partner for search – so much easier to ask a question than type search terms – with a knock-on effect on SEO. Already, 20 per cent of Google searches on mobile are via voice and that could increase to make up half of all searches as soon as 2020, according to some estimates.
So SEO is evolving into AEO – Answer Engine Optimisation – with brands alert to its possibilities. One March 2018 study found that four in five advertisers and agencies saw reaching audiences through voice-activated routes over the next 12 months crucial.
Yet it’s starting to evolve in new ways: Alexa has now offered users the option of incorporating music, a podcast or radio programme into a routine, or sequence of actions. Spotify has been testing voice control and dance label Spinnin’ Records has rebranded playlists to reach more of its 20 million users through voice activation.
Trend 3: AR and VR
Firstly for clarification, virtual reality allows users to step into a completely artificial digital world normally through a digital headset; augmented reality enhances a real-world environment with virtual elements for example, like the mobile game Pokemon Go.
Brands are quickly recognising the vast potential of technologies to promote their products and engage with consumers. The new IKEA Place AR app allows users to ‘place’ and experience more than 2,000 items of true-to-scale furniture in their own homes. Porsche have also just launched a new AR app to showcase its pioneering Mission E all-electric sports car, allowing users to customise the vehicles down to the colour and even take the car for a virtual test drive.
AR and VR offer almost endless possibilities for future content marketing trends as they move beyond talking to customers to creating new, reality-plus worlds to engage with and explore – and where almost anything is possible.
What do these content marketing trends mean for brands?
The super-fast pace of technological evolution and the shiny newness of it all can be overwhelming. There’s a risk that brands can be so dazzled by the new technology and may lose sight of key principles – like being clear on who their audience is, which ideas will the audience engagae with and what the overall purpose of the content is.
The fundamentals remain the same, whatever the platforms: brands will need to entertain, inspire, educate, convince and sell.
Content marketers will continue to design content that enhances brand experiences in the best way – in other words, using AR or voice activation because it enhances the consumer experience, not simply because they can.
And regardless of how sophisticated the technology becomes, the quirkiness of the human brain will always have something to offer in terms of content marketing trends– adding the indefinable something that author, blogger and marketing guru Seth Godin summed up as “the poetry, the magic, a human being doing what no-one expects”.
Find out more about content marketing trends
We also have a report about brand communities and content, you can download our free report The Benefits of Brand Communities from our website.