5 challenges digital marketers need to overcome in 2017

Last yeas was a challenging one for CMOs trying to deliver compelling branding messages to web and mobile-oriented customers. Annual data shows consumers constantly shifting between various digital platforms, causing problems with unexpected dispersions in previously focused advertising channels.

Content delivery algorithms underwent significant changes last year too. Notably, Facebook upgraded its algorithm to hide so-called “click bait” headlines. Media organisations that rely on Facebook to deliver content will now need a brand new game plan. Marketing executives should expect an even more trying environment in the upcoming year. Here are several challenges that CMOs can most likely expect to tackle in 2017:

Challenge #1: Advertising for wearables

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) estimates that one out of every four consumers in the U.S. will own a wearable device, like the Apple Watch, by the end of this year. Other comparable markets, such as in Australia, can expect a similar trend. Marketers can anticipate that wearable devices will present the next major disruption in adtech. It’s not possible to advertise on tiny wearable screens as on a desktop or a smartphone. Coming up with innovative approaches to distribute suitable content on wearables will be a testing challenge in 2017.

Challenge #2: Data quality

Modern marketers collect huge amounts of data on customer preferences and behaviour patterns – both online and offline. However, most businesses do not know which tools to adopt to make sense of all this data. Close to one-third of marketing executives highlight a lack of talented analysts to interpret the big data being collected. In 2016, the hottest hires for the marketing industry weren’t in the web design and app development fields, but in the maths or statistics fields. Marketers who want to implement targeted ad campaigns backed by data this year will need to find ways to invest heavily in the necessary technical and analytical skills.

Challenge #3: Overcoming the early-stage pains of VR

The tech industry has big plans for virtual reality gadgets. Google, Apple and Amazon recently announced rollout plans for sophisticated VR devices. VR is intended to be an advertising channel that marketers can almost certainly penetrate this year. However, advertising for VR is going to be a hurdle unlike any other. Imagine explaining television advertising to someone who has never seen a TV before. Most CMOs do not understand what VR is. Is it an isolating technology? What kind of media would users consume? Finding definitive answers to questions like this will be integral for expanding existing marketing campaigns to reach the VR marketplace.

Challenge #4: Adapting to the proliferation of communication channels

The average consumer now communicates through close to five devices. The proliferation of communication channels certainly generates more opportunities to reach consumers. On the other hand, it also presents new problems for advertising across varied but connected channels. Cross-device marketing, therefore, is expected to be one of the toughest challenges digital marketers will face this year.

Challenge #5: Finding workarounds against ad blocking

Ad blocking is a real headache-inducing issue. Online advertising, especially for media organisations, has been severely limited thanks to ad-blocking browser extensions. Consumers are now using similar ad-blocks on mobile devices as well. The debacle has reached such heights, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the World Federation of Advertisers even warned advertisers to prioritise user experience above all else. In 2017, marketers will have to find middle-ground between delivering digital ads and keeping browsing experiences free of distracting advertisements.

2016 was hailed as the year to be creative in marketing. In all likelihood, 2017 will be the year to produce unique and tech-friendly content to keep attracting specific and gadget-oriented consumers.