How are Digital Trends Impacting Small and Large Businesses?

If you're involved with the Advertising industry, you've probably heard the following terms discussed by wide-eyed optimists with ambition in their eyes: native, co-creation, influencers, programmatic, content, cross-channel, content, content, content, retargeting, etc.

I'm one of those people that gets very excited just imagining the possibilities of new developments in the digital world. Sometimes, I feel like my impassioned speeches are falling on deaf ears- industry leaders hear these trending terms being thrown around recklessly all the time. One time, I was in a meeting with vendors presenting their services to us. After hearing the phrase 'digital' being referenced over and over, my boss asked one person 'What does the term 'digital' mean to you?' . The response was extremely vague. 

“Digital media are any media that are encoded in a machine-readable format. Digital media can be created, viewed, distributed, modified and preserved on computers.”

What is digital? Online, social, programmatic, email marketing, mobile, retargeting with search or video ads... that would be my answer. But to get more specific, the trends I'm excited about right now are Native, Co-Creation, & Content Marketing.

“Relying heavily on Mad Men style ‘spin’ and catchy one-liners alone isn't going to sell things these days”

Brands are paying to reach consumers where they're at. Based on your search activity, your social media profiles, etc, brands want to serve you the message you want to hear. Relying heavily on Mad Men style ‘spin’ and interruptive, catchy one-liners alone isn't going to sell things these days.

Native advertising is not interruptive- it reaches you when you're already engaged and interested in the sponsored message. The products, brands and content featured by social media accounts you follow are in line with your values and interests. Admins of these accounts, whether proprietary or corporate, work to only partner with brands that support their vision. You trust the brands they sponsor, feature and discover. Some social accounts may be just regular, unpaid people, that discovered your brand, and then interact with you, giving the brand organic content to leverage. Wait, is this Word of mouth advertising? The best type there is? I think so.

“Creative young people like these... are shaping culture and fueling up and coming brands.”

This ties into my thoughts on Co-Creation, as discussed in the Advertising Age article, Digital's Third Wave Is Coming: Don't Miss the Ride. What I'm excited about is that brands now spend on influencers to co-create content with them. These are independent, creative individuals. They can be, choosy about their price, what they feature, what they create, etc. Danielle Bernstein, @weworewhat on Instagram, works for herself. She works with another independent creative, a photographer, to snap her photos. There are countless fashion, food, & lifestyle bloggers making money like this. I love seeing creative young people like these that are shaping culture and fueling up and coming brands.

As far as brands creating their own content- this is huge as well. Brands may invest in in-house teams increasingly more. The message has to be highly crafted, engaging, consistent, and useful for the user. So the writers, photographers, designers, videographers etc. that are creating the content are much more integral to the brand. I recognize this is done through agencies many times and creative directors are determining the look and feel of the brand nationwide, but where I see opportunity for growth in the market is companies investing in in-house teams and freelancers.

It's becoming feasible for companies of all shapes and sizes to implement online/social marketing strategies. In a recent article by Elaine Pofeldt at Forbes, she notes that the digital economy is helping these smaller businesses and solo-preneurs spring up organically. I'm adding on to her statement to note that it's the accessibility of these digital marketing trends: content, native, co-creation, social, search, that's helping these small businesses. I really love this opportunity in the market for young creatives to contract out their services to fulfill the needs of small businesses and larger companies alike, as well as the possibility of self promoting with these tools.

A risk to this opportunity is the growing percentage of freelance and variable contract workers and the very nature of those contracts. With 15% of the workforce being contingent labor today, (as opposed to 7% in 1995) it's important for the workforce to be able to accommodate freelancers and for regulations to be passed to protect contingent labor.

This ties up my thoughts on the impact of digital trends in the workforce. Next week I'll explore a few reputable sources to talk about the implications of native, co-creation, and content marketing trends for brands.