Ashwin Saddul, managing director at Better than Paper, highlights the key changes we’ll be seeing across the fast-changing digital marketing landscape – to cater for consumers’ increasing demand for a personalised, on-demand content

 New video formats

This year, there will be marked increase in the use of video – with live video being the favoured route. Although live video is proving a great way to connect with audiences, they now demand a professional finish– so the shaky, holding-a-phone-in-your-hand style – won’t be acceptable anymore.

With good video content proving highly popular on social media, to achieve better results, every platform is focusing on live video and adding new features and formats – such as 360. Social video engagement, especially on mobile devices – will also be sky high in 2018. With stats showing that YouTube viewers watch a billion hours of video daily, 82% of Twitter’s audience view videos and Facebook users consume over 8 billion videos daily – will ensure that marketers focus even more on these channels.

We’ll also see the increased use of programmatic video – where marketers can instantly target and purchase any video inventory on the Internet. Google will continue to evolve the YouTube proposition, so brands can more easily curate and promote this content. In fact, I expect to see more brands seize the opportunity to become content creators or be lead sponsors of digital-only content, while others will start to more accurately target individuals online – based on engagement.

New technology

As mobile devices become more powerful and social apps integrate better with augmented reality (AR), brands will use it to more effectively engage with consumers. For example, using a customer’s location, brands could trigger sponsored AR content, which can only be accessed at that spot, and at that time.

Other new technologies such as machine-learning algorithms, natural language processing and artificial intelligence (AI) are all coming of age. This will enable marketers to better predict spend, to optimize their overall budget and remove entrenched biases in their existing methodologies. However, marketers will need to better understand how AI and other types of software developments – from the likes of Google, Apple and Amazon – will impact on how consumers make decisions.

Social media “stories” will be highly popular with marketers this year and the “stories” format pioneered by Snapchat has now inspired alternative offerings. With Instagram’s ‘Stories’ and YouTube’s “Reels” format, they both offer unique features and presentation – but follow the same concept. Most of these stories vanish after a set period of time – to create a sense of fear of missing out for users and they’re also a fun, bite-sized way to present video content.

Greater personalisation and compliance

Our recent market research revealed that personalising content remains the biggest challenge and by doing this activity better – will play a role in achieving GDPR compliance in 2018. The majority surveyed believe that better content personalisation will help deliver quality and timely content – and by understanding audience preferences – will help ensure compliance, and improve engagement and retention too.

Attention is a currency, and by getting the right message, to the right person, at the right time – building a personalised connection with prospects will be critical for successful digital marketing. This objective will only be achieved by understanding that audiences also represent different personas, and different personas respond to varying content types – in differing ways. So there’s an increasing need to segment the demographic and psychographic market of audiences by assessing their different personality traits, values, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles – so tailored, relevant content can be delivered.

More engaging content

The biggest challenge of creating content is generating an experience and narrative that people truly want to engage with. This means to capture an audience’s attention the quality of copywriting will dramatically increase and become more objective and educative in style. We’ll see more great stories that combine with user-generated content, which is particularly helpful as prospects are more likely to be swayed by the word-of-mouth opinion of a micro-influencer – than solely by brand-owned content.

We’re also going to see a much greater focus on long-form, evergreen content – specifically articles around the 1,500-word mark or longer – that tackle themes or subjects, instead of short to mid-length blogs, featuring various iterations of a key search term. Although long-form pieces may not hit as many high-volume keywords, they should prove more helpful to audiences – which mean better engagement metrics and more shares.

Multi-channel publishing

Marketers will increasingly use cutting-edge, fully integrated content and publishing platforms that can help them experience faster, more customer-centric, brand communications. These will enable marketing teams to deliver personalised customer experiences, simplify their digital content production processes, reduce costs and rapidly increase higher value output – all in one go.

The best platform features enable marketers to instantly create content-rich platforms, by effortlessly consolidating their own content – alongside curated web and social content – that is published across mobile, tablet and desktop devices.

Platforms that have integrated tools will be particularly sought after to help marketers create a meaningful and interactive dialogue with target audiences through highly targeted, personalised content – at the right time, anywhere – based on customer insight from analytics functions. Greater customer stickiness and feedback will also be achieved with functions that include; location based services, social network integration and push notifications, to survey’s and polls to capture consumer feedback and insight.

Ashwin Saddul

Ashwin Saddul


Ashwin Saddul, managing director of Better Than Paper.