Ljubica Vukčević, Insight Manager at DIRECT MEDIA United Solutions
Six key trends at The Next Web 2019
“The Next Web is definitely one of the most important European conferences focusing on marketing, technology, and innovation. This year, the event took place for the 14th time in Amsterdam, and I was lucky enough to visit the festival for the second time. In the 21 talks I attended over two days I witnessed the latest trends and predictions in our industry. This article presents the six key trends from the conference,” Ljubica said.
M-commerce is the future of retail
Today, already two thirds of all online purchases are made on mobile phones. The trend is also significantly driven by social media, which — in addition to increasing the desire to own items by displaying them to users — they now offer the option of instant purchase. The thing that will further change shopping on mobile phones is the increasingly easier and faster checkout based on simplifying the payment process, according to Harley Finkelstein, Shopify’s Chief Operating Officer. He also pointed out another major change in the world of online shopping — many brands are leaving big shopping websites (such as Amazon) out of the need to keep in closer touch with their customers. (This is the approach that Shopify used to build its entire business model.) Finkelstein also noted that brick-and-mortar stores will have to offer customers much greater value when shopping because their prices will generally not be able to compete with those of online stores. In a discussion about m-commerce, I also learned an interesting insight from more developed markets suggesting that the growth of online food shopping affects the growth of online shopping of other types of items because customers are forming the habit of more frequent shopping.
AI is just a tool
Touching on the general public’s suspicions and fears around the rapid development of AI, Google’s Chief Decision Scientist Cassie Kozyrkov pointed to the fact that the idea of automation is as old as man because man always has the need to do things in easier ways, as well as that tools have a purpose only if they are more effective than a person in performing tasks. Of course, she emphasized that the ethical issues around the use of AI will be a key focus in the foreseeable future. Buzzfeed’s Vice President/Head of Data Science Gilad Lotan agreed and, in addition, explained how Buzzfeed uses machine learning to speed up processes (categorizing content, optimizing the website itself, predicting virality…), which in turn enables the company to grow more and faster.
Marketing to machines
Based on the growth of podcasts — discussed at TNW 2019 by Blendle’s Founder & CEO Alexander Klöpping — and the increasing presence and use of home and other voice assistants — tackled in the talk given by President of Adobe EMEA Paul Robson, who appeared at TNW 2019 to introduce voice commands for working in Adobe software — significant developments are expected in the foreseeable future in the audio arena, which struggled to keep up with video in the last decade. Advertising and communication professionals will be especially interested in the new type of marketing that this trend will bring about — marketing to machines. This is an area whose growth is suggested by research insights that reveal that the majority of people sending commands to voice assistants uses generic terms. For example: “Order beer” instead of “Order a Jelen beer can,” which means that the assistant’s algorithm actually determines the brand that will be ordered. Our main objective will be to communicate with voice assistants and steer their algorithms towards choosing our clients’ brands.
Where is Gen Z?
Although the wide spread opinion is that the target audience between 13 and 17 years of age — which is one of the most difficult to reach — fled from Facebook to Instagram, Kepios’ Chief Executive Officer Simon Kemp, the author of We Are Social’s Global Digital, showed data demonstrating that Instagram lost 4% of the target audience in the last quarter of 2018 alone. After dispelling this myth, Kemp put another one to rest — the one that says that this target audience migrated to TikTok. TikTok indeed gained nearly 200 million users in the first three months of 2019, but the numbers are already in decline, especially among younger target audiences. Kemp’s key insight for this target audience is that they are swarming from social media to social community platforms, which is a huge challenge for advertisers because the social community arena has no advertising, but instead the audience can be reached only through carefully selected content (only if we approach them as part of the conversation, rather than passive recipients of content).
Every company is a tech company today
Nike’s Global Head of Digital Products Michael Martin used a vivid example to illustrate a company that take digitization seriously. Explaining how their offline experience helped them to better understand people, he made it clear that Nike was now a tech company. Today, people expect every experience to be digital, looking for experiences in the offline world that are digital like those online. That’s why last year Nike started to launch custom brand stores, only to raise the bar to another level this year, when they enabled the Nike Fit app users to scan their feet and determine the exact size of the sneakers they want, taking into account the shoe model, feet length, width, and volume, and many more factors.
How is the target audience identified in 2019?
Although it’s clear to everyone that there hasn’t been such a thing as the average consumer for quite some time, Cut.out’s Founder and CEO Michael Gaston reminded us that it’s also no longer possible to use several descriptions for the consumer because consumers don’t like it when brands place them in roles, often even deliberately behaving contrary to the categories that brands put them in. Microsoft’s Senior Manager of Global Engagement Purna Virji also talked about how we should think about the target audience, explaining that the approach driven by the average consumer is dead, and that the key is inclusive approach and more dedicated consideration of the consumer. As an example of inclusive approach, she cited a scenario in which a solution designed for just 26,000 consumers with one hand is, in fact, something that could be bought by 13 million people with a broken arm, as well as 8 million parents of small children who mostly use only one arm.