Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Editorialised content leads to deeper customer engagement with brands and the creation of those all-important emotional connections, the result of which is proven return of investment. This is why the importance of a content marketing, or branded journalism, strategy cannot be underestimated. MD of John Brown Media, Lani Carstens, says providing consumers with content that matters to them on a personal level, on the platform of their choosing, will be the trend in 2017.

She points out that companies are increasingly using data to improve customer experiences, which allows brands to tailor their communications, offers and products at an individual level based on what they have purchased online or in-store. “Based on this information, we can also send relevant content such as recipes and health tips or simply continue to engage in conversations with customers,” she says.

Content intelligence is pivotal to the success of any content marketing programme, and investment in the best editorial talent a brand can afford is vital, says Carstens. It’s about working with top designers and editors to ensure the translation of single-minded brand messaging into engaging editorial content regardless of the platform, she says, and crafted storytelling is key.

She believes augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) will be huge in 2017. She points out that AR will take up where quick response codes failed, releasing additional content and information across all types of media. Towards the end of 2017, she predicts, consumers will, for example, be able to hold their phones up to a new restaurant and see data on reviews, signature dishes and the like.

As a result of companies such as Google, Apple, IBM and many others competing to acquire private AI companies, personalisation will become the norm, says Carstsens, which will enhance brands’ abilities to plug into existing technology to help them reach the right markets.

Social media continue to play a vital role in the branded content space; Instagram and Snapchat are occupying more and more of Generation Z’s time, says Carstens, and brands that are not already using these channels are planning to add them to 2017’s strategy. Disappearing content and live video are key trends for the year, she adds, while Facebook and Twitter will be offering new tech such as chatbots, Facebook Live and Twitter Scratch Reels.

Geolocation on mobile phones allows brands to determine consumers’ whereabouts, and serve them relevant content in real time, Carstens points out. She says that in the UK, 75% of traffic to a brand’s site comes from mobile devices, which allow brands to use social links to have a real-time chat with consumers. This will become one of the key ways content agencies and brands work together to achieve meaningful cut-through at key points, she says.

Finally, Carstens highlights the growth of mobile. She points out that 85% of SA’s 14m Facebook users get access to the site from their mobile phones. In the case of many local websites, mobile traffic has overtaken desktop in the past year. The advantage for brands is that a mobile audience is a highly targetable one.

The big take-out: John Brown Media’s Lani Carstens talks about the tech trends that will be enhancing custom media and content marketing in 2017.

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