5 Smart Marketing Predictions for 2015 that All CMOs Should Know About

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You probably have at least a rough outline of your marketing plan for 2015; maybe you even have it all laid out. Sometimes when you’re planning for the coming year it’s easy to focus on scaling what worked well during the past 12 months and forget to brainstorm ways to explore new channels and technologies that are on the horizon.

CMOs and marketing directors need to have their eye on new opportunities if they want to be innovative.

Don’t worry; I’ve got your covered. I read through dozens of lists of predictions for marketing and advertising in 2015 and pulled out 5 ideas that I think all CMOs should be thinking about as they wrap up their planning and budgeting for next year.

While researching this post I noticed a lot of rehashing of ideas that we’ve heard a million times before––for example, brands will realize they need to be more authentic or companies will finally succumb to the fact that content marketing is here to stay.

Sure, these ideas are true and relevant, but when thinking about the future I like to think big: I looked for predictions about technologies and trends that will shift how we do marketing and advertising in 2015 in a significant way. Predictions that are thrilling, bold, and sometimes a little mind blowing.

Here are my top 5…

The 5 Top Marketing Trends to Watch in 2015

1. Major Brands Will Start to Buy Media Companies to Fulfill Their Content Marketing Needs

We all recognize the staying power of content marketing as a key channel for companies to connect with consumers. What does that mean for marketing in 2015? How will big brands create the teams they need to produce content that will actually build an audience?

Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute, says companies might bypass the hard part and simply buy a content powerhouse that already exists: “In 2015 we will see a large move among brands to buy media companies, flush with cash and short on patience to build loyal audiences.”

Contently’s Editor-in-Chief Joe Lazauskas agrees: “A major agency will make a high-profile acquisition of a content marketing platform. Without the technology and talent to power content marketing at scale, agencies are like New York Jets fans—totally f*cked, and completely aware of that fact.”

2. Brands Will Tap into the Power of Partnerships with Influential Content Creators

While researching this article I came across a number of marketers forecasting that video as a brand marketing channel will become bigger than ever in 2015.

Says Joe Lazauskas:

“Brands will finally embrace YouTube as a major network. Want to reach millennials? Create high-impact content with YouTube creators. It’s the biggest and most obvious opportunity brands aren’t taking advantage of.”

It’s helpful to know that brands are moving towards video as a key channel, but what should really spark your interest is Joe’s suggestion that there’s a lot of untapped potential in partnerships with influential content creators.

YouTube stars are achieving celebrity status, and brands are taking notice. Throughout the past year the popular beauty vlogger Bethany Mota, who was a recent finalist on the TV series Dancing With The Stars, has had her own fashion line with Aeropostale, and in mid 2014 Dr. Pepper partnered with Michelle Phan to create a commercial.

Recently, YouTube star Zoella sold more book copies in her first week than any debut novelist ever in the UK. Now that’s a loyal audience.

In 2014 I also noticed a boom in brands partnering with influential Instagram users that create content around niche topics like fashion, luxury lifestyle or travel. Brands pay influencers to publish a photograph of their product (or related to their product) and mention the brand in the caption below, or they pay them to take over their Instagram feed for a few posts or several days.

As a consumer, I enjoy this kind of advertising because there’s no rupture in me receiving the high-quality content I signed up for; it just happens to have a brand attached to it. And because these influencers only partner with brands that truly fit their style, I often actually respond to the advertisement and check out the product.

Sure, we’ve known for a while that influencer marketing is effective, but I think we’ll see much more sophisticated and creative collaborations in 2015, as content creators build audiences that rival those of pop stars and brands grasp just how powerful a marketing tool this can be.

3. Content Marketing Personalization and Recommendation Tools Will Become More Widespread

The business of finding ways to deliver highly-relevant content to consumers is still in its infancy. Smart Insights points out that this kind of technology has been used by Ecommerce sites for a while, but new tools are making it possible for a wider range of businesses, including B2B, to implement more sophisticated personalization and retargeting strategies.

I can imagine how data from wearable technology like Google Glass or proximity technology like iBeacon will merge nicely with content marketers’ need to reach consumers at just the right time. Maybe, in addition to receiving notifications about discounts or reward incentives, we’ll also be sent cool videos or articles relevant to what we’re doing or walking past at any given moment.

4. Your Stories Will Be Everywhere

This one comes from Bryan Kramer; he predicts that in 2015 there will be a big push towards transmedia storytelling.

Rather than crafting a story for an isolated viewing experience, like a blog post, a billboard or a Tweet, marketers will design stories that are pieced together across different media. Bryan says the movie industry is already quite good at this:

“Watch how the upcoming Star Wars movie surrounds you, making you feel like the movie is just a small piece of the experience they’ve conceived for you to have.”

The notion of transmedia storytelling is linked to a general shift towards holistic marketing campaigns that span many channels. Marketing departments will become less siloed as companies realize that treating channels like content, SEO and social media as separate areas of marketing doesn’t make sense at all; they’re actually completely intertwined.

5. Marketers Will Begin to Experiment With Wearable Technology as a Marketing Channel

Throughout 2014 marketers mused on how wearable technology will change the industry. Because wearable technology focuses on gathering personal data to either enhance user experience or deliver specific information, marketers and advertisers see a big opportunity to leverage this industry.

Google Glass could offer advertisers the chance to display their ads to users with a “pay-per-gaze” advertising model, and it could even help bridge the gap between on- and offline advertising; companies could use Google Glass to monitor impressions for non-digital ads, like billboards and magazine spreads.

Apple’s iBeacon, an example of proximity technology, is a step towards companies being able to deliver highly-relevant, timely messaging to consumers based on their location or activity at any given time. Right now proximity technology is being explored within the realm of mobile, but it’s easy to imagine how this could translate to wearable products.

This might be the year that our reveries about marketing through wearable technology data come true: Mark Schaefer says that by the end of 2015, “wearable technology should be gathering enough steam that we will begin to see some early marketing applications.”

Wrapping Up

Consumers are bombarded with an astonishing volume of brand messages each day, meaning that delivering innovative, exciting experiences is key if a brand wants to capture people’s attention.

One of the best ways for a brand to stand out from the crowd is to be an early adopter of new tactics and technologies; CMOs and Marketing Directors should have their eye on what’s about to happen so that they get there when it counts. So take some time to study the marketing trends for 2015 and think about how you can integrate them into your strategy.

Now I’d like to hear from you. What other marketing trends will take off in 2015?

About the Author: Chloe Mason Gray specializes in digital marketing and growth strategy for small businesses and solopreneurs. Be sure to say hi to her on Twitter. You can also follow her on Google+.

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