Five digital marketing trends for 2017

Picture of Iris Daly, Head of Digital at eir Business

Iris Daly

Head of Digital, eir Business


Digital marketing has become a lightning fast world where changes and innovation happen at the speed of light. It’s exhilarating, and a little overwhelming. Iris Daly, Head of Digital at eir Business gives you the lowdown on the trends brands can expect to see in 2017, plus an old favourite that isn’t going anywhere soon.

Targeted, niche content

Using content to connect with customers has been used successfully by brands over the past couple of years. In fact, so much content has been created that there is now the danger that any new content that brands create gets lost in the crush. With that in mind we’re going to see brands developing content marketing strategies that are increasingly targeted and increasingly niche. Content marketing expert Andrew Davis sums it up with his quote: “paradoxically, the more information sources available to the consumer, the more niche-focused content creators must become and the more successful they’ll be.” We expect to see brands identifying niche areas that they can create dedicated, relevant content for. By targeting underserved niches brands will be able to elevate themselves in the conversation, gain more visibility and build a more loyal customer base.

Live video

You’d have to have been blindfolded last year to not have noticed the impact video has made on the world of content. Video content has been around for a while now and its effectiveness is backed up by some impressive statistics (take a look at this infographic from HubSpot ). What we’re seeing now though is the introduction of live video, which many see as more authentic content. There’s nowhere to hide with live video, and that’s become more important in this era of fake news. We first saw live video a couple of years ago with Periscope, and while Periscope itself didn’t necessarily take off it did ignite massive interest in live video streaming. Live streaming goes hand in hand with social media so naturally we’re seeing the big social media players rolling out live streaming capabilities – YouTube Live, Facebook Live and Instagram Live. Last year we saw events like the US Presidential debates being live streamed on various social media platforms. We also saw news sources quoting Facebook Live videos in their coverage of major events. All of this is setting the scene nicely for significant adoption of live video by brands in 2017.

Augmented and virtual reality

In the congested digital world where brands are vying for consumer eyeballs and attention we’re going to see a jump in highly creative, immersive marketing. Ushered in by the massive success of Pokemon Go, we’ve already seen some great examples of augmented reality last year: Pepsi’s amazing reality bus stop in London which turned the wall of a bus stop into a fake window through which people could see anything from aliens landing to a roaming tiger on the street. On a smaller scale we’ve seen Facebook and YouTube introduce 360 degree video; this technology is already being used successfully by companies in the travel and real estate to give consumers virtual tours of places or houses and its use is poised to expand this year. We’re also seeing brands making use of virtual reality technology, and it’s no wonder, 73% of Millennials said they are interested in virtual reality, 70% of Gen Xers and 64% of baby boomers according to eMarketer. One interesting example of using virtual reality to appeal to a specific demographic is General Mills, which used the technology to give prospective recruits a virtual tour of its main campus. Expect to see a shift towards immersive marketing this year, where more of our senses are being engaged.

Native advertising – like advertorials, sponsored content

Adblocking was a big trend in 2016. Globally, adblocking use has jumped 700% since 2010 and a Business Insider Intelligence Report showed that around 200 million people use adblocking software. Naturally this is having a major impact on digital ads and their effectiveness. As adblocking usage continues to grow, brands will increasingly turn to native advertising or sponsored content as they try to get their advertising message under the radar and appear more ‘naturally’ in general web content. Business Insider estimates that spending on native advertising will reach $21 billion by 2018. All of this will mean that we will likely see the development of cleverer forms of native advertising. Here are some of the best examples of native advertising in 2016 as curated by News Whip. We expect plenty more where they came from in 2017.

Email marketing

Ok, this trend might seem out of place, but bear with me. I was interested to read in an article on Brand Driven Digital, which sought experts’ views of the digital trends for 2017, that there will be an email marketing resurgence. Justine Jordan, Vice President of Marketing at Litmus said email marketing is poised for “a comeback of epic proportions”. While Michael Smith, Art Director at AWeber predicts that “email marketing is going to have an ’email origins resurgence'”. While many commentators have long said email is dead, it’s effectiveness at reaching the right people, with the right message at the right time, makes it an invaluable tool. Smith suggests that in 2017 we will see mass email communications becoming more and more personalised, to the point where the mail feels less like a mass communication and more like a one-to-one message. And according to Jordan, because email marketing and marketing automation platforms now integrate with most other marketing platforms, brands now have access to social, content, and behavioural insights that can be used to create more personalised messages.

(Always on the list) mobile

Mobile has been on our trends to watch list for several years now, but it’s worth re-iterating its power and influence. We expect its pervasiveness to continue and we will see more and more brands creating mobile first strategies. From local search to ‘showrooming’ to connecting with customers at a time and place that’s convenient to them, there is every reason for brands to develop a mobile strategy, and no reason not to.



Iris Daly is the Head of Digital at eir Business. Connect with Iris on Linkedin