Almost every area of our life is being changed by advances in technology. From wearable gadgets and more powerful mobile phones to medical treatments and electric cars, the constant battle for progress is creating new opportunities and forcing people to adapt.
It should come as no surprise that the shifting of the technological sands is also being felt in the fields of marketing and PR. This was readily apparent during Techweek 2019 (20-26 May), where events around New Zealand aimed at showcasing some of the most exciting, unusual and quirky marketing and PR tools that are gaining in popularity.
Four that are poised to really take off over the coming 12 months are gamification of experiences, data-driven storytelling, automated marketing and virtual reality shopping.
Gaming is now well and truly mainstream. In the wake of wildly successful games like Fortnite, it doesn’t take a genius to see the potential for well-designed games to engage people with a message or as part of a social marketing campaign.
A prime example, scheduled to be profiled during Techweek, is the series of Business Tycoon games being developed by the Ministry of Social Development in partnership with games developers and private industry partners. These games teach students about the construction, hospitality and technology sectors through business simulations and gamified experiences.
Gamification can also be done at a more basic level by allowing people to earn “badges” or to “level up” when they achieve certain milestones, such as engaging with your website or social media account regularly or purchasing enough of your products.
In coming years, we will see even more organisations seizing on the power of gamification to promote their products or messages.
The digital world has given us access to vast amounts of data. This is providing myriad opportunities to tell stories based on empirical evidence and quantifiable trends, and it will be the source of an increasing number of news stories in the future.
In recent years, Vodafone has told some great stories about the most popular holiday hotspots in New Zealand based on the amount of data it sees being used across its mobile network over the summer. This has created newsworthy stories that have been covered by national and regional newspapers across the country. In doing this, Vodafone has positioned itself as being easily accessible in all parts of the country and further enhanced its position as one of the leading telecommunications providers in New Zealand.
Expect to see a whole lot more of this as companies dream up creative ways to analyse and use the data they gather in their daily business.
Automation and artificial intelligence
Whether it’s a chatbot that responds to customer inquiries or an automated email that prompts people for a review after they purchase a product, tools that automate the marketing process are becoming more and more prevalent.
The use of automation and artificial intelligence will continue to grow in popularity as marketing tools as more businesses realise their potential to drive sales and save staff time.
Virtual reality shopping
The move to online shopping means many shopping experiences are two dimensional and impersonal, done on a mobile phone screen, laptop or desktop computer. But what if you could walk through a shop browsing the shelves and making purchases in a virtual environment?
A host of companies are developing platforms that allow businesses to set up virtual shops, complete with product branding, product displays and even virtual shopping trolleys that can be “pushed around” by customers wearing virtual reality headsets. Not only do these provide the possibility of a more immersive experience, but some of these platforms also allow companies to measure which products in their virtual store are drawing the gaze of their customers while they enjoy their virtual reality shopping experience.
There are even some companies working on virtual reality websites offering immersive 3D browsing experiences. Could the internet as we know it be set for a VR shakeup?
With such a selection of new technology becoming available to marketers, the challenge is in knowing which opportunities to chase, and which to ignore. There will always be an element of experimentation and risk-taking involved, but with some sound thinking and expert advice it’s possible to improve your chances of backing the right horse.