It’s that time of year when everyone is highlighting trends and sharing predictions for 2017. For those of us working in advertising and media, the disruption continues unabated. I want to highlight a handful of digital and social trends for 2017 that we are paying close attention to – and have been experimenting with at the Ad Council.
It’s all about the bots
Artificial intelligence has arrived – even though it’s been in the popular culture for what seems like forever. CP30 has become Alexa and the messaging that AOL popularized with AIM is now full of bots that will remind you to buy things, serve as your personal assistant or even as we learned this past fall, help you vote. There is still some debate over when and where bots should replace human interaction or whether they ever fully will. Some non-profits are already experimenting with fundraising through bots. A question we are starting to ask with some of our campaigns is whether bots could be helpful in providing resources on different issues or even emotional support.
AR, VR and 360 video
The drumbeat on virtual reality has been loud and constant throughout 2016 –- and the tipping point on adoption is being predicted for 2017. I tend to be in the skeptical camp on VR and still feel like the hardware needs more work before any sort of mass adoption. That said, 360 videos are where most VR experiences will play out for non-gamers (and most of us without headsets). We have been quietly experimenting with VR for one of our campaigns and will have a 360 video launching in the new year as part of Facebook’s VR for Good program. The key for non-profits is that VR’s strength is creating empathy, so creating content that could be used to attract funders on a smaller scale may be worth the investment vs. creating content to change hearts and minds on a large scale – at least for now.
With the success of Pokemon Go, augmented reality is back on the table – it’s been around for a while, but Ninendo’s surprise hit got everyone’s attention. Look to Snap (formerly Snapchat) to also lead in this space with Spectacles and other AR consumer experiences. More important than investing in AR and VR is just making sure that your video strategy includes vertical video, soundless video and video optimized for mobile and social. Do that first.
Digital and social have become an integral part of our lives – some say too integral, even borderline addictive. I discovered Tristan Harris in this piece published by the Atlantic. You can watch his TED Talk, too. His argument that these technologies have been designed to be addictive is compelling and slightly disturbing. As more people look for ways to unplug, there may be a shift in how engineers and product managers approach creating new tech and new features, helping people to moderate their tech use instead of chaining them to their devices. Combine that with Facebook and Google committing to help weed out “fake news,” and we may see Silicon Valley beginning to address some of the real consequences of so much technology.
We can’t wait to see what 2017 holds and how we can improve our campaigns using the latest technology.