Forget NFC. Think BLE
The year 2013 was declared – and spectacularly failed – to be “the year of NFC”. Fewer than one in ten (9 per cent) of UK smartphone owners know their device is NFC-enabled and just over a fifth (22 per cent) of those ever use it to make payments, according to a report published this month by YouGov.
So far the mobile industry has failed to offer a compelling argument as to why consumers would want to use the technology, available in the majority of smartphones. The value exchange when swiping over a payment terminal or a bus stop for the most part is heavily weighted towards the merchant or advertiser, rather than offering a consumer anything compelling.
But now there’s some new technology on the block in the form of Apple’s iBeacons and Bluetooth low energy (BLE), which is already in almost every single mobile phone manufactured in the last two years.
Both technologies do not require merchants or advertisers to install expensive terminals and allow companies to target or serve customers via payment, loyalty programmes, coupons or push notification advertising based on their location.
WPP agencies Joule, Kinetic and Mindshare plus mobile specialist independent Somo are all currently trialling iBeacons software with several retailers to use as an in-store marketing tool, with the outcomes likely to go live in the new year.
The internet of things/customers/people?
Marketers are leading the “third wave of computing”, a new world where everything from the toothbrush to the aircraft engine will soon be connected, a shift Salesforce coined at its annual Dreamforce conference in San Francisco last month as “the internet of customers”.
While it could be easy to pour scorn on a buzzword/sentence designed to capture a theme across the many keynotes and break-out sessions taking place at a computing conference, recent evidence points towards this trend.
Gartner predicts that by 2017 the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO. Meanwhile, consumer appetite for wearable devices such as the Nike+ Fuelband, Jawbone Up, Samsung Galaxy Gear, Sony Smartwatch 2 and excitement around not-yet-released products like Google Glass and Apple’s rumoured iWatch continues to grow apace. Juniper Research estimates retail revenue for smart wearable devices will reach $19bn by 2018, up from $1.4bn this year.
Native Advertising becomes more naked advertising
The term native advertising has gone through many iterations: advertorial, sponsored content and content marketing to name but a few.
About 20p in every advertising pound was spent on content marketing this year, according to market research agency TNS. Looking forward, the Content Marketing Institute in partnership with the Direct Marketing Association found more than half (56 per cent) of UK marketers plan to increase their content marketing budget over the next 12 months.
But as more marketers assemble their teams to publish ever more content across digital channels in particular, the likelihood of a fallout increased too.
Earlier this month The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) advisory panel, which writes ad rules on behalf of the Advertising Standards Authority, issued a note to brands underlining its opinion that while commercial messaging may “look at home” when placed beside editorial content marketers must make clear that such content has been commercially funded.
Just last week the US Federal Trade Commission held a conference entitled “Blurred Lines: Advertising or Content” – an event it used to warn several hundred advertisers, academics and media executives against dressing up sponsored content as neutral editorial.
It is likely 2014 will be the year the industry sees the first major sanctions against brands masquerading as editors as regulatory bodies step up their crusade.
Marketers learn to code
Understanding computer programming language has been a “nice to have” in the toolbox of the modern marketer, but with CMOs set to spend even more of their budgets on IT and digital marketing next year, it has become crucial they understand what they are paying for.
In 2013 more marketers positioned their companies as “digital-first” and “mobile-first” and the year saw digital natives break through the ranks into the top marketing positions.
Dozens of new initiatives have sprung up over the past few months, looking to teach everyone from school children to c-suite executives how to code – and they can choose a course that lasts just a day (like the now well-established Decoded) to training programmes that are far more labour intensive, meaning there has never been a better time for marketers to “embrace their inner geek”.
Programmatic ad buying rockets
It ain’t always pretty, but it’s certainly big. Emarketer estimated ads purchased via real-time bidding (RTB) accounted for 19 per cent of all total online display advertising spend in the US in 2013.
RTB has hit the headlines on numerous occasions over the past 12 months, moving the topic from the media agency water cooler conversations to client boardroom decisions.
In September Twitter acquired mobile ad network MoPub for $350m, Facebook launched a new retargeting tool to work alongside its own ad exchange in October and this month Google launched a social ad format for brands to turn their Google+ posts into display ads across its display ad network.
IPG Mediabrands’ Magna Global forecast says programmatic technology will come to embrace more types of inventory and that an increasing number of premium publishers are set to become involved in the programmatic ecosystem – making the area far more attractive to brand marketers.
It is not just the types of publishers getting involved in the space but also the type of inventory that is increasing. With consumer adoption of 4G on the rise, – all four major operators now offering the superfast internet connection – mobile and video RTB has become more prevalent.
And as the number of formats grow, so has use. To date, RTB may have been seen as the folly of a direct marketer looking for a cheap impression with a call-to-action, but as more marketers understand the true value of the discipline, expect to see more brand campaigns delivered via programmatic buying.