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Digital Trends To Watch

Industry Notes from our Digital Account Manager Sean McCrudden

When it comes to trends, there are a few headliners that are informing our digital strategies this quarter. From streaming to short form, socials to live TV, video content and how we consume it is at the forefront.

The battle for viewers

In recent years, (aside from an upswing during Covid) we’ve seen traditional TV struggling to maintain audience numbers and to retain a stronghold when it comes to advertising spend and strategy.  Admittedly there have been chinks of light. We’ve seen episodic shows like Big Brother set to return to screens, and Love Island recommissioned (surely no coincidence that the last series main sponsor was social media platform Reddit?). These anchor heavy-weights of live TV give advertisers hope that viewers are still engaging and that broadcasters are  doing their best to stimulate  their return  to the community of live TV.

But at the same time, the fight for viewers is ramping up. Paramount have launched a full streaming service and Netflix have introduced an ad-funded platform. With ITV launching its new streaming platform – ITV X –  the battle for audience attention and potentially advertising spend will be even more heated. At every level the viewing horizon is shifting and it’s understandable that advertisers and brands feel confused about where to direct their ad budgets and strategy.

Consumer choice

For our part, we’ll be carefully observing the consumer choice response to all of this. Are viewers content to follow content wherever it’s available regardless of the subscription fee?  Or is cost king? Are views motivated by finance, opting for free services? Will viewers accept the value exchange of watching ad breaks to get free or discounted subscription? This is truly the litmus test and what advertisers should be watching out for. With Netflix launching their ad-based service here in NI, we are glued to see what happens next. Streaming and local TV broadcasters services will surely be paying just as close attention.

It’s all about short form

Our other video focus is a much shorter one. It’s the move away from long form video content entirely. Not that it’s happened over night: VidYard (video hosting company) reports that already in 2020, 60% of all videos published online were under 2 minutes. Since then the stats have only exploded further. From the launch of TikTok to Instagram Reels, gone are the rewards for long form video. Instead engagement is only expected in the short, sharp delivery of micro content. Remember when YouTube rewarded videos over 10 minutes in length?  Now it’s all YouTube Shorts and niche content clips.

Real authenticity

Linking into short form video and social content, we’re also driving strategy and planning around the importance of authenticity. It’s seen in the boom of unfiltered, real life social media community BeReal (the photo-sharing app that prompts users to post an unfiltered observational image at the same time as other community users every day). And then there’s the move towards smaller, niche influencers. Authenticity is where it’s at. Reddit (and its 330 million users) attest to that, suggesting their platform is the most honest and useful. It dispenses with personal information, prioritises user feedback and objectively ranks content through moderation and up-and-down votes (rather than the over inflated ‘like’ culture of Twitter and Instagram).

Niche is now

When it comes to influencer collaboration, we’ve been seeing a clear shift away from mega influencers. Instead attention is focused on smaller, expert influencers. Those who have a real community attached. Influencers who can offer brands more than just visibility, who lean into learning, content creation, and specific brand collaborations.

Social commerce

Our final trend note that links through everything else is the rise of social commerce and how that can and should inform digital strategy.  Most often creeping into video content, users have moved from researching purchases through social media to expecting to be able to complete on purchases all in the same platform. For brands looking to collaborate through social media and video, these opportunities could represent exciting new customer funnels.

From authenticity to video in all its forms, huge streaming services to micro influencers and everything in between, our signposts for the next few months of digital strategy are set. We’ll be watching how things move and shape with interest.

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