2016 – the year marketing goes virtual

2016 – the year marketing goes virtual

Brands looking to bridge emotion and fact will start turning to Virtual Reality, says Hotwire in its 2016 Communications Trends Report

Virtual Reality (VR), the growth of third-party channels and campaigns that deliver useful experiences are set to be the major trends for the world’s marketers in 2016, according to Hotwire’s seventh annual Communications Trends Report.

Launched at an event for clients and partners at Auckland’s Generator space last night, Hotwire’s report predicts VR will become a key trend in 2016 as people demand a perfect marriage between experience and data.

VR lends itself perfectly to brands looking to bridge emotion and fact – it’s ideal for the travel industry as a means of delivering virtual holiday experiences. VR has also been used by Amnesty International to give a sense of what life is like for people living in war-torn Syria. Marketers need to get on board now and ensure they understand the impact the technology can make on strategy, when it can be used and who to call upon to make it work.

Next year will also see brands relinquishing control over content, publishing on third-party channels such as LinkedIn Pulse which also offers the advantage of a built-in distribution network – instead of their own websites. Why bother forcing people to your website when they’d much prefer to find content on the sites they’re already at?

Brands will then go a step further, focusing far less on selling a product or service, and instead connecting with audiences through branded experiences that bring real benefit to consumers. Recent examples include IBM billboards doubling as rain shelters, and Samsung trucks with large screens mounted on the back to give following motorists a view of the road ahead.

Hamish Anderson, Hotwire New Zealand Managing Director, says: “2016 will be the year of setting content free. Savvy marketers will publish content where the audience already is, rather than sharing a link and expecting them to follow it.

“We’ll focus on actual experiences rather than selling a product or service. The campaigns which succeed will either solve a problem for consumers or provide a great experience, whether through physical or virtual reality.”

Hotwire’s top 10 communications trends for 2016:

1. Platform wars – embracing third-party mediums

Websites will become a channel rather than an end-point. While they will still be a place for us to publish, we’ll increasingly see information spread across the web as publishing channels like Medium and LinkedIn Pulse, which have built in distribution services, become a staple of marketing campaigns.

2. Funnel reversal: marketing in the Age of Amazon

The traditional funnel model for purchases has been flipped; consumers now go straight to the source for purchases. But where Amazon goes for breadth, brands can go for depth, targeting content and campaigns that create a brand experience will keep customers coming back for more – building a stronger connection with the customer and reversing the funnel at the same time.

3. Our audience is killing advertising

iOS9 has enabled ad blocking – but the industry isn’t ready to respond. In 2016, marketers will absolutely need to get better at native advertising as well as explore new ways of generating top of the funnel awareness – from sponsored podcasts and influencer partnerships with bloggers, vloggers and Instagrammers through to a renewed commitment to experiential activity.

4. Age! What is it good for?

2016 will be the year we finally stop targeting ‘millennials’ as one whole demographic. Instead, brands will look to target audiences based on a specific mind-set and certain values. We’ll see increasingly sophisticated content, targeting different groups of this younger audience and that targeting will be age agnostic. We may even forget about age in general – it’s just a number – and focus marketing on what really motivates our audience: their passions and the life they choose to live.

5. Living in the moment

Next year will be about living in the moment. Marketers will rely less on content calendars and more on gut instincts and guidelines. Those that can free up their teams to create content in the moment and embrace the lack of perfection this moment implies, will help their brand communications feel a lot more natural.

6. Go big. Go hyperlocal.

In 2016, marketers need to go granular – creating individual messages for every section of our target audience and tying these to their distinguishing feature. In this new hyper-granular world, four or five pieces of copy are no longer enough – we’ll need to create 10, 15 or even 20 messages, each of which targets a specific subsection of our audience.

7. Be relevant. Be useful. Be heard.

The great marketing campaigns of the coming year won’t be about making noise, they’ll be about providing a service. We’ll learn from the big boys who have cottoned on to this already: IBM providing shelter from the rain with their outdoor adverts, and Samsung streaming a live traffic-cam on the front of the truck to giant screens mounted on the tailgate to show drivers when it was safe to overtake. Marketing campaigns will increasingly become an active, not passive, part of daily life.

8. Virtual Reality as your channel of choice

As consumers demand more experiences and less linear communication, VR will become a key trend for 2016. The hardware will become pervasive as a result of the gaming and entertainment community, but it will be the content creators and communicators who ensure the platform bleeds into all walks of life, not just gamers. Marketers need to not just understand the impact the technology can make on our strategy, but know when it can be used and who to call upon to make it work.

9. Brands as the new activists

Values hold communities together, but they must be lived and seen in action. With consumers increasingly forming judgements based on a brand’s social and economic policies, we will continue to see brands putting further weight behind social and political issues that people care about – placing values at the core of their communication strategy.

10. Cutting the cord

2016 is the year the industry gets its act together on online video – combining experts in video production, planners and account teams with a deep understanding of the channels video works best on.

“Hotwire’s Communications Trends Report reveals a bold new world for communicators, powered by immense advances in the power and affordability of marketing technologies. Brands have never been able to be more human, more personal and more meaningful in the way they communicate. 2016 looks set to be a ground-breaking year for our industry,” says Anderson.


Notes to editors:

Hotwire’s Communications Trends Report is crowdsourced from 400 communications professionals, in 22 countries, across five continents.

About Hotwire

Hotwire is a global PR and communications agency dedicated to helping ambitious companies change their game, build their reputation, and stand out from the crowd. From Sydney to San Francisco we’re a team with a ‘one office’ mentality. Our international team works across our 22 locations, including the UK, US, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Australia and New Zealand, together with affiliate partners. We bring the best of our knowledge, skills and experience to all of our clients wherever they are in the world. www.hotwirepr.co.nz

Hotwire is wholly owned by Enero Group Limited, a company listed on the Australian Securities Exchange. The Enero Group is a boutique network of marketing and communications businesses that include BMF, Corporate Edge, CPR, Dark Blue Sea, Frank PR, Hotwire, Jigsaw, Naked Communications, OB Media, Precinct, The Digital Edge and The Leading Edge.

For more information please contact Amy Hacon, 021 156 4321 or amy.hacon@hotwirepr.com

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