Marketing in 2017: A look back at what worked in an ever-evolving landscape

by | Dec 27, 2017 | JFG News

2017 has been an interesting year in the world of marketing. The shifting of priorities for marketers was a consistent theme throughout nearly all aspects of the brand promotion and advertising realm, and businesses had to be vigilant to stay ahead of the curve. Let’s take a look at a few highlights that stood out as important trends for the year.

The battle for short attention spans

In the age of the smartphone, the human attention span has decreased. This has had a profound impact on the marketing approaches of many brands, who now only have about eight seconds to hook their audience. In turn, this has led to an increase in hyper-creative campaigns that integrate innovations of art, science and social values to gain as much focus in as little time as possible to have the greatest impact.

This year has also seen an increase in the use of emotional appeals as brands attempt to elicit strong feelings that will grab ahold of their target viewers. With fewer people reading articles or paying attention to commercials, targeting an emotional connection gives campaigns an opportunity to stand out and attract lasting attention. Look for these kinds of personal approaches to become more prevalent as we move into the new year.

The expansion of social media marketing

 Social media has continued to change the way that marketers operate by providing new platforms in the digital marketplace where people spend most of their time. This has required new approaches and ideas, and in 2017, an increased level of ad customization based on user interests, particularly as artificial intelligence software becomes more advanced. In addition to this higher level of consumer understanding by marketers, there is also a greater demand for product placement on social media platforms as nearly 50 percent of millennials reported they look to social sites for products to purchase.

Emergence of digital marketing over linear television

 For the first time in 2017, digital marketing has eclipsed linear television marketing as the top form of advertising. Digital marketing’s 41 percent of the market share – compared to television’s 35 percent – is the continued growth of a trend that has been developing for years and that shows no sign of slowing down.

The FCC’s recent decision to end net neutrality also leaves a grey area for marketing. With the elimination of some previous regulations, it is possible that premium content or access restrictions may effectively redraw the map for marketers. Net neutrality is still being contested broadly at state levels, as well, so it may be late in 2018 or even beyond that the impact of these changes may come into play.

Google’s mobile-first indexing

 A little over a year ago, Google announced their plan to introduce mobile-first indexing due to the high rate of searches being conducted on mobile devices. Since the mobile and desktop versions of websites do not always share all the same content, relevant search results may not be getting the attention they should because the engine still indexes desktop-optimized pages first. That made 2017 a development year for the mobile-first indexing, and many marketing agencies and web firms spent the year updating client websites in preparation of this switchover.

While the timeline is still vague and undefined – as is often the case with updates from Big G – Google came out with a post at the end of the year letting domain holders know the proper ways to prepare for the switch, showing that it’s still a major priority as we move into the new year.

Best practice example: Own your mistakes

 Despite the number of well-executed marketing campaigns in 2017, a few major brands did flounder a bit here and there, and with the advent of instant feedback via social media, people were quick to realize and point it out. Yet, despite mishaps, a few major brands were quick to admit their mistakes and even poke fun at themselves, effectively owning their blunders.

One prime example came from McDonald’s, which posted on Twitter a strange, incomplete tweet during the Thanksgiving season that read “Black Friday **** Need copy and link****.” Clearly this was meant as a reminder for the social team, but it inadvertently went live instead. The fast food chain quickly corrected its mistake, however, and took the opportunity to poke fun at itself – all while promoting one of its products – responding to the original tweet with “When you tweet before your first cup of McCafé… Nothing comes before coffee.”

This quick response to their own flub went over well with the audience, but didn’t stop Wendy’s from issuing its own humorous response: “When the tweets are as broken as the ice cream machine.” This example shows that in the wake of a marketing mistake, both the brand at fault and their competition have the opportunity to capitalize if they don’t take it too seriously. As you’ve always been taught, learn from your mistakes, own them, and use them as an opportunity to do better – as true in 2017 as it was in 1917 and will be still in the new year.

 Final Thoughts

 The eclipsing of traditional media by digital channels is no more than the punctuation mark on a sentence that has long been written, yet with these expanding frontiers come expanding challenges for marketers. How will brands prepare for Google’s mobile-first standard? Will the end of net neutrality pose lofty challenges for marketers in the coming years? How will ads continue to grab their audience with attention spans now shorter than ever?

At JFG, we’ve watched, grown and adapted alongside these changes, and helped our clients do the same for their campaigns. From television and radio on through websites and social media marketing, we’ve helped small and large businesses alike navigate the complex landscape of marketing campaigns and worked to carry them throughout traditional and modern media platforms. We live marketing, and look forward to a 2018 full of new challenges and new opportunities.

Looking for help to carry your brand into the new year? Give us a call. Let’s grab some coffee, discuss your concerns, and come up with a comprehensive strategy to help your brand stand out from the competition and respond to any challenges that come your way in 2018.