Samantha Stark, Senior Vice President of Technology in Ketchum’s D.C. office, told Capitol Communicator that she predicts four trends for 2019.  They are:

Tech is leveraged by communicators to breakthrough: Early and unique uses of technology for brand communications offer major awareness returns because of the uniqueness of the content they create. In 2018, we saw brands engage a computer-generated influencer, even putting “her” at the center of a shoe advertising campaign. We also saw a brand use a new way of printing with malt to reproduce Twitter messages in beer foam seconds after they were live on the platform during the World Cup. On the journalist side, machine learning will continue to be used in new ways to augment shrinking newsrooms.

Brands build trust by being bold: This year we saw major brands take bold stands on issues important to their stakeholders and be rewarded with significant positive media and social coverage as a result. The success of these campaigns, alongside the growing movement of consumers wanting to align themselves with brands that represent their values, bodes well for this trend to continue into next year and beyond. We also live in complex times where value-based communications are more important than ever because they build trust with consumers.

Influencer marketing becomes more complex: There is no doubt that influencer marketing will continue to grow in adoption from brands of all sizes in 2019. From the emergence of computer-generated influencers, to the shift from mega-influencers to nano- and micro-influencers, this channel will continue to grow because of its ability to authentically connect brands to their audiences. However, we’ll continue to see an increase in skepticism and vetting around them due to issues such as fake followers, lack of authenticity, and influencer values conflicting with their sponsors.

Experiential marketing leans into tech innovations: Brands are craving more meaningful interactions with their audiences, which has led to a boom in pop-ups and experiential activations. I expect this trend to continue because of consumers desires to get the perfect image for their social channels, which pop-ups and experiential provide. The growing integration of technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality make for even more interesting and immersive experiences.

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