AdTech has been on the rise in recent years, and it’s been developing in multiple directions, so the task of deciphering trends and directions is far from easy.  AdTech, in its essence, is on the verge of inter-connections by various industries and we can pin-point the trends of 2017 only by examining a cross-cut of industries such as FinTech, Telecom and more.

Big data

Big Data for Smart Predictions

This trend includes market and customer insights as well as predictive analytics. We need to take into account that it is not a continuation of a trend, but it is rather new. Sometimes marketers are too caught up in the old ways of doing business, in the patting of each other on the shoulder, and fail to see the new and improved ways and what consumers prefer to see.

The old ways of doing things were to use hardly predictable online marketing by means of trial and error approach. For instance, you chose to market on the BBC website and spent $100 on banners. Only then were you able to calculate the efficiency of your campaign. Of course, there are instruments to somewhat predict the efficiency and the end-result in real time through Google AdWords.  But it is clear that these tools only show the potential of your marketing efforts. You invest and only then can you analyze and find ways to improve. You’ll have to turn to Google AdWords on a constant basis and put in extra dollars every time you need to improve or figure out your precise target audience. To avoid the extra costs and waste of time, companies, in general, now switch to the predictable advertisement.

In fact, all you have to do is find the big data provider that offers you to buy qualified leads. There are companies that know how to do it and companies that come to them and request precise leads. A taxi company can say “We need female customers 25-35 years of age, living in Kiev and using taxis.” And at the end of the day, this taxi company doesn’t need to acquire information about thousands of unknown people for a cent per person but is ready to get smart predictions and pay $5-10 per customer who actually uses taxis regularly. And if this company invests $200 into Google AdWords, they are not guaranteed that out of these thousands of potential leads they will get a comparable number of qualified leads that turn into paying customers.

The ease of access to big data lets companies make smarter predictions and increase the ability to target customers more precisely. But the data on its own does mean much. It’s the way you use it makes these predictions smart. If you know that I bought the latest Harry Potter book, marketing it to me makes no sense, as I’ve already bought it. But if you know the genre and type of literature I tend to buy, then you can target me with precise offers in this segment being informed by the collected data. This is the missing piece of the puzzle.

Augmented Reality in Marketing

Based on our browsing & buying habits we are used to seeing various pop-ups while searching the web. Advanced marketing techniques ensure carefully targeted advertising that displays similar items to what you’ve bought before or looked at. Actually, the same is true for marketing efforts in augmented reality advertising. The only major difference is the way the advertising information is communicated: graphical images are overlaid on real objects. This can be done via a number of technologies available in most developed countries: display boards in a mall advertising holiday shopping, promotions for newest gadgets as you are looking through a shop window, advertising of famous brands while you are walking through the city searching for Pokémons and so on. These images can be viewed on a number of displays and companies are gearing up to recognize your ‘digital signature’ and buying habits to grab your attention.

Augmented Reality marketing is in its infancy right now, but the public and marketers are fascinated alike. And the options for its use are unlimited as everyone has a smartphone and there is no need for special glasses like in Virtual Reality. Shops can easily pre-install AR tools and get/send the info about/to customers when they pass by to increase the likelihood of them making a purchase. When Pokémon GO was released, it became an instant hit, and with over 100 million downloads so far, marketing prospects of this app alone have been endless.

Many people don’t even realize that they use AR, like when they use Snapchat filters to augment reality, and this is also a type of AR. Advertisers have found a fresh ground to plough through and innovate to improve their marketing efforts.

In 2017 you are likely to get to know about any product by simply scanning it with your phone. Then a message will pop-up on your phone screen overlaying the item telling you more about it. You can also, for example, download an app to overlay a projection of a chair you’ve seen in a store today on your living room before buying it. All of this opens up endless options for creative and engaging ads. This is definitely a trend of AdTech to follow closely in the years to come.

Connectivity and Real-time interaction. iBeacon tech in Amazon Go

Increased connectivity is a tool through which you can boost your advertising options. More specifically, let’s say that you are going to a store and stop near a screen and have a look at a new TV set. The system then detects that you’re currently standing in front of this particular TV, taking note of its brand, screen size and price. And within a couple of seconds, you get a push notification on your phone with additional information on the item, a promotional offer, you name it!

The global trend is real-time interactions with users, instantaneous connectivity and personalization. So how can you accurately identify this guy that is currently standing in front of that TV set? And how can you, in general, understand if this person is genuinely interested in buying something you are selling? iBeacon is an example of how such interface can be implemented. Beacon technology employs sensors to communicate the messages you want to share with customers via smartphones, specifically via a pre-installed app. This offers retailers limitless options to digitally connect with shoppers while they are physically in their store.

The easiest way to communicate with a phone is through Bluetooth connectivity (Wi-Fi, Edge and similar don’t allow for the desired pin-pointing of customers) and apps that come handy as marketers need to lift some privacy restrictions. This can be done by a clear consent of users willing to sacrifice a part of their privacy for special offers they get when using an app. You can make people install the app by promising coupons and so on, but that incentive may turn sour if you start spamming your users. The primary goal of this tool is to get more in-depth information about you as a potential buyer, and this is at the core of these types of applications.

In a nutshell, Amazon Go showed us in 2016 the most successful application of connectivity via the Beacon in its first grocery store based entirely on the latest technology. Amazon’s ‘Just Walk Out’ tech lets customers simply pick up the items they want and walk out the store while the checkout process happens in a virtual cart.

Overall, creating an app to offer real-time connections with users and show them highly relevant promotions creates a rewarding omni-channel experience that makes people loyal and satisfied with their purchases. Therefore, by and large, real-time interactions are a global trend that will hit the market in 2017.

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Hyper-personalization and Programmatic

On the basis of the previous trends in AdTech, we can state that data collection and its analysis to improve targeting of consumers and optimizing yields is on the rise. There have been improvements on personalization, but overall the efforts were by and large unsuccessful.

Presently we have a plethora of data to create hyper-personalized adds for our consumers, but the process is slow to pick up. In 2016 we saw the rise of the on-the-fly marketing where ads changed according to the user’s unique characteristics instead of the usual mass-distributed fixed messages. We believe that in 2017 smart programmatic will become the industry standard in AdTech.

With Programmatic you can bring in and analyze a wide number of data points and reach customers on an unparalleled scale. Being able to leverage data programmatic lets you boost your advertising efforts to deliver your messages to the target audience you need. Programmatic in its essence is an industry standard tool to improve personification, which is based not on a simple idea that if a customer clicked on a link, then he would by this item. The analysis and personification are based on a detailed analysis of conversions and user history, both desktop and mobile.

Offering hyper-personalization requires companies not only to know if an individual opened a link, entered the App Store, bought and downloaded the app, used it for a fortnight, and purchased some extra services (in the case with games this can be virtual coins). Hyper-personalization takes care of such issues as how many times the user bought coins to improve their gaming experience, what cause them to make a purchase, when did the user stop playing the game and deleted it from their device, etc. All of this information is used to provide precise forecasts when displaying advertising. And this will become more common in 2017.

Conversational Interface: AI & Chatbots

Chatbots have been serving customer for many years. They’ve been mostly imperfect and caused a lot of frustration for users. But in 2017, we should expect a creation of a new level of conversational interface and chatbots are going to improve significantly. Users will be able to chat not only in writing. Oral communication with bots is becoming standard as well. In the end of 2016 Amazon launched “Amazon Lex” service for building conversational interfaces into any application using voice and text. With the advance of voice recognition software, new ways of communication are arising.

With the help of Artificial Intelligence chatbots can read data and make decisions. But depending on the questions asked, interests in the dialogue migrate. With each additional user question, the system has to change the positioning criteria of the customer in a particular social group. This lets it show exactly the items the customer may want to buy. The main question remains: how to construct such high-quality models of communication?

There is an answer to that. Analysis of speech has been on a fairly good level for a while. And now Amazon has launched its new assistant service Alexa that outperforms Siri on many levels. This is a cloud solution for speech recognition and construction of models of communication. In this regard, we are sure to see some failures. The most recent one happened in 2016 when Microsoft’s chatbot ran a-wall and had to be taken down from Twitter. The future mostly depends on how artificial intelligence and chatbots can be adapted to provide life-like experiences without users making allowances for the bot’s imperfection.

It doesn’t really matter if you write or speak, the conversational interface is pretty similar. So in 2017 we are likely to continue to move in the direction of more advanced AI & Chatbots. The technical ability is already there. We can identify speech, analyze, simulate, build, provide answers and guide you through a conversation. But we still need to form and perfect the model of interaction.

When we look at the overall picture, the common point in every trend mentioned above is personalization through a number of advertising tools. Big Data, Augmented Reality, iBeacon technology, Programmatic and Chatbots all have a single common goal – make advertising more appealing to every single individual in a special way. And in 2017 technological advances and shared expertise of advertising specialists will create new trends and promote the ones mentioned in this article.

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