In today’s world, content is king. As consumers, we look to it for our information, entertainment, and guidance. Whether it’s a BuzzFeed listicle on the top 21 ways to eat a custard cream, or a product review for the latest high-end fridge with an IQ higher than yours — content shapes our decisions and behavior every single day.
As the potency of traditional advertising continues to come under scrutiny, our relationship with content presents brands with an unmissable opportunity to connect with audiences like never before. At the same time, new and exciting consumer technologies are emerging, which create the ability to connect with consumers in a truly meaningful and lucrative way.
So what will the future of content look like? After collating and analyzing the predictions and evidence found in 4.6 million research papers, white papers, articles, and thought leadership pieces on the topic at hand, we discovered the future of branded content, and identified four key trends that will define how the most successful brands will use content in years to come.
The era of affordable virtual reality is upon us, which means being able to do anything from watch once-in-a-lifetime concerts in your living room, or drive the latest luxury sports car around Monte Carlo from the comfort of your sofa. Once limited to two-dimensional screens — our experience with all media will become increasingly immersive.
Brands have the opportunity to envelope audiences in rich and compelling environments, and let shoppers try before they buy without leaving their home. By 2020, we can anticipate over 200 million virtual reality headsets to be sold — creating a global market worth $40 billion.
In the not-too-distant future, even shiny touch interfaces will even begin to look archaic. MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory is developing interactive dynamic video (IDV), a technology which would allow consumers to instantaneously purchase products they see featured in virtual reality ads or films with just a flick of the wrist.
Content will quickly become a two-way street. With the ability to recognize facial expressions and emotions, content will adapt and react in real-time to create engaging and interactive experiences.
Today, our online experiences are only partly personalized. Advertisements are often based on our interests, and correspondences address us by name rather than the vague “valued customer.” But we can soon expect content to understand much more about who we are as individuals.
Content will adapt to create an ultra-personalized experience for us as individuals — factoring in everything from personality to location. Deep learning engines will carefully calculate and present content that appeals most to audiences, maximising its effectiveness and engagement for those who publish or promote it.
In 2020, consumers will be able to interact with their favorite brands through almost any device. Brands will focus on crafting and sharing quality content to “pull” consumers in, rather than shoving “annoying” advertisements in the face of audiences.
The Internet of Things will grow to greatly influence content curation. With an entire constellation of devices communicating with each other, analytics platforms will use vast amounts of user data to identify our behavior patterns — based on everything from our weekly grocery shop, daily exercise activity, and favorite movies. As our environments grow to become more intelligent than our individual devices, we will create seamless streams of rich data by simply by walking down the street. Patterns, trends, and unique insight about us will emerge from this data, and will be used to ensure content is personalized to every person, in every possible way.
As we edge closer to 2020, we can only expect content to play more of an integral role in the lives of consumers and brands alike. Coupled with emerging technologies and an ever-growing pool of consumer data to draw from, the opportunity for brands and publishers to capitalize on content is huge. Ultimately, the brands who can leverage these content trends in a smart and effective way will be the most successful as we enter a new decade.
To find out more about how your brand can drive revenue through making meaningful connections with relevant audiences, download our free white paper, Forecasting the Future of Branded Content.