Your 7 content mega- giga- uber- supra- monster trends for 2017

Ryan Skinner

It’s Groundhog’s Day, when a sleepy landpig emerges from his little mancave and entertains questions from the press about astronomical phenomena!
As good a day as any to share a few content trends where we at Forrester expect to see considerable acceleration this year.

Here are your 6 content trends and one wannabe-trend that won’t trend in 2017.

The first megatrend
Direct-to-consumer pushes CPG out of the brand advertising comfort zone

Direct-to-consumer plays by the CPG giants, and even more so the CPG small guys, will put substantial pressure on brand marketers to invest in content and experiences that drive action. That means more content for richer websites, email programs, product documentation, and paid and unpaid executions. Mondelez’s made a $10 billion bet on this, and Unilever’s acquisition of Dollar Shave Club signals their interest in more direct subscription-driven sales.

What does it mean?
Digital agencies with strong content chops and some ecommerce nous will be the winners, as brand teams ramp up their direct marketing capabilities.

The second gigatrend
Stunts and experiential executions set higher bars for hero and community content

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The Data Digest: Online Video Ad Spending Is Set To Make A Splash In 2017

Brandon Verblow

Up until now, paid services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO have dominated US online video viewing, particularly for long-form, TV-style content. Uptake of ad-supported, TV-style online video has been slower; traditional TV providers control much of this content, and they’ve been cautious about making their programming available outside the lucrative TV bundle. Even if many viewers want to cut the cord, they may not follow through as they realize they cannot get all the content they want. YouTube, of course, has a massive ad-supported online video business that has been growing healthily according to our calculations. However, even YouTube falls short of Netflix in terms of downstream bandwidth consumption, and its estimated ad revenue is only a small fraction of traditional TV ad revenue. For online video ad spend to show meaningful growth, consumer-generated or web-only content won’t be enough. A truly robust online video ad market will require the migration of traditional TV content to digital platforms.

This migration appears to be gathering momentum. Recently, we have seen a number of developments that could drive the uptake of ad-supported online video and that indicate that 2017 could be the year when ad-supported online video starts to make a splash.

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Game Over: Don’t Let Twitter’s NFL Ads Dazzle You

Jessica Liu

Last April, we blogged about Twitter’s marquee agreement with the National Football League (NFL). The industry was abuzz: The two joining forces meant a marrying of live programming with social commentary. In its inaugural season, Twitter-NFL’s powerful partnership presented an enticing live streaming package for marketers because:

  • Marketers view social media as an attractive marketing channel. In our Forrester Data: US Social Media Forecast, 2016 To 2021 (US), social ad spend is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17% in the next five years. 
  • Live streaming captures younger eyeballs in particular. Millennials are the first to embrace streaming in all of its forms, appealing to marketers trying to capture fragmented audiences. Forrester’s Consumer Technographics(R) data reveals that 63% percent of Millennials (age 18-36) watch 5 or more hours of TV shows, films or video online. This is a significant percentage of their TV time so marketers must learn how to reach this audience outside of linear TV types of viewing. 
  • The NFL’s proven content sweetens the package. NFL games garner high viewership and in a typical week dominate the top 10 most-watched shows, especially among the coveted 18-49 age demographic. And primetime programming, especially sports content, is one of the most popular conversation topics on Twitter. 
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Want to Bridge Company Divisions? Just Say No To Silos.

Erna Alfred Liousas
Well fellow marketers, the beginning of 2017 has been fast and furious! I’m sure I’m amongst friends when I share my year-end was a combination of: wrapping up projects, supporting last minute revenue efforts, reviewing predictions for 2017, and saying goodbye to 2016 actions that should never be repeated. I'm proud to say,  now that 2017 is finally here, I’m doubling down on my “dismantle the silo” charge. And the reason is simple: customers.  We are running out of time and opportunities to grab and keep their attention.  They don’t have time or the desire to entertain disjointed experiences. Let’s face it, as customers ourselves, we feel the same. Now is the time to act, which means business units within organizations must join forces to create differentiated brand experiences.
 
My latest report written with my colleagues Ian Jacobs and Laura Naparstek , “Use Social To Bridge The Gap Between Marketing and Customer Service,” discusses the benefits a marketing and customer service pairing creates for customers and the brand.  Legacy silos prevent innovation and the cultivation of new internal connections. If we let these silos stand, we end up contributing to the negative customer experiences that happen when marketing and servicing don’t work together. So, keep the following in mind:
 
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Kicking Off 2017 With A State Of The Union

Collin Colburn

Just like a US President gives Congress information on the "state of our union", Forrester has just released a state of the union on the search marketing world. But instead of constant interruptions for applause or the opposition's response to the state of the union, let's cut to the chase.

The state of search marketing is strong. But there are cracks forming in its foundation. That's not to say that search marketing is under immediate seige from foreign adversaries, but it is to say that there will be challenges and opportunities for agencies, vendors, and marketers that are tasked with owning SEO and/or paid search.

Change is nothing new in the search world -- especially when you consider how often Google updates it's ranking algorithm. And 2016 was no different. There were a few major highlights in my eyes:

  • Google nixed right-hand rail ads. Back in February, Google confirmed that all ads (except PLAs and some knowledge graph ads) would no longer appear on the right hand side of desktop search results. The reason Google did this was to provide a more consistent experience across devices, which it did. The good news for marketers though? The decrease in total inventory didn't increase CPCs. In fact, CPCs on Google declined 5% since Q3 2015.
  • Organic search is still top of mind for marketers...and customers. Let's face it: SEO is not the sexiest digital marketing topic. But it works: according to Forrester's Consumer Technographics data, natural search engine results are the top way customers find websites. So it should be no surprise that my top inquiry topic in 2016 was on all things SEO.
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Blind Pursuit Of Engagement Is Hurting Marketers

Samantha Merlivat

Intuitively, it makes sense that if a consumer engages with a brand’s ad or marketing message, this should count as a positive outcome. Yet, we’ve spoken to a number of marketers and measurement companies that found that optimizing for engagement ultimately did not help them drive positive business outcomes – instead leading them to waste time and media dollars on the wrong users.

 

The issue we keep encountering in discussions around engagement is that advertisers count interactions – clicks, shares, likes, comments, views – as proxies for engagement. There’s no clear link between these individual actions and what they are really trying to measure: are their messages moving consumers along their path to purchase, by driving either brand preference or sales?

 

Tina Moffett and I decided to investigate:

 

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Marketers Are Measuring Engagement All Wrong

Tina Moffett

Over the course of my career as a marketing analytics practitioner and as a Forrester analyst, I’ve tried to tackle some of the most pressing questions around measuring marketing’s effectiveness. I’ve seen a recent surge in marketers using the metric “engagement” as a way to measure marketing success. When I start to question what they mean by the term “engagement” and how they measure it, I’m often met with a flurry of answers, including a running list of metrics, such as likes, shares, or time spent on the site, that marketers Read more

Adtech & Martech or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Convergence

Joe Stanhope

Few topics get more air time in marketing circles than adtech and martech convergence. The commentary spans a spectrum ranging from attempts to agree upon the deceptively simple semantics of adtech and martech (which usually ends when everyone throws up their hands and concedes that it is simply madtech) to existential examinations of the future of marketing itself. 

Some reactions to looming convergence approach satire, sometimes even intentionally. Like the war room bound leaders in Dr. Strangelove, we wonder: Are we heading for mutually assured destruction? Is somebody harboring a doomsday device? Have our deterrents been rendered useless? Which side will strike first? Who’s really in charge?

 Source: IMDB

Yet these questions are surprisingly apt in the context of convergence. It should surprise no-one that adtech and martech convergence evokes strong feelings. Modern marketing is a technology-driven discipline, and any widespread change will reverberate throughout the ecosystem. Convergence impacts the future of thousands of vendors (and their investors). It affects day-to-day marketing operations for tens of thousands of brands (and their agencies). The excitement, mystery, and controversy surrounding convergence speaks volumes about the marketing industry’s collective aspirations and fears. 

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US Digital Marketing Spend Will Near $120 Billion By 2021

Shar VanBoskirk

Hot off the press: Forrester’s US Digital Marketing Forecast 2016 To 2021.  I’m proud to say that Forrester has been sizing spend on online and digital media for nearly twenty years.  My colleague Jim Nail launched this research in 1998, and I have been authoring our forecast reports since 2004.  Good thing neither Jim nor I has aged a day!  This time, the key finding from our research is that over the next five years, marketers will invest in quality over quantity.  What does this mean specifically for digital marketing budgets?

  • US digital marketing spend will near $120 billion by 2021.  Investment in paid search, display advertising, social media advertising, online video advertising and email marketing will pace to 46% of all advertising in five years. 
  • Working budgets will give ground to non-working ones.  Overall, digital marketing is pacing at a healthy 11% compound annual growth rate between now and 2021.  But this is not the experimental “spend on anything to see what works” investment that we saw between 2008-2012.  Marketers are more mature now with capable measurement practices. This means they will spend judiciously on just what works for their goals.  And many are dialing back pure digital advertising investment, prioritizing instead non-working investments in data, technology and customer experience.
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Case Study: Increasing Customers’ Loyalty With Social CRM

Xiaofeng Wang

It’s increasingly challenging for marketers to earn loyalty as empowered consumers become entitled customers with more options than ever before. My latest report, Case Study: Max Factor China Rejuvenates Customers’ Loyalty With Social CRM, tells marketers how to leverage social CRM to define an effective loyalty strategy that spans the entire customer life cycle, across channels.

The US cosmetics brand Max Factor has been growing its business steadily since it entered the Chinese market in 2009. However, Max Factor has faced growing challenges in recent years:

  • An increase in competition from incumbent and new competitors.
  • A decline in new members and average member value.
  • An incomplete understanding of customers’ purchasing and engagement behaviors.
  • A confusing loyalty program unfit for the digital age.
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