# 1: Data Rocks the Socks Off Comms.
The year 2014 will be the year when communications and public relations truly come of age as data-endorsed disciplines. It will be the year in which the application of performance-based analytics and data to mine real-time, predictive insights fuel content development and brand storytelling. Brand communications, shaped by data and insight, will sit at the table alongside the art of brand storytelling – across platforms.
# 2: If Content Is King, then Contextual Content Is King Kong.
Content has always been a key driver of brand marketing and corporate communications. What will change in 2014 is that content will begin to exist in a more meaningful planning ecosystem – one that is fueled by data-driven insights to provide context to communications and brand stories.
Rich content will be at the heart of digital communications with three core pillars: Creativity, Context and Care.
In 2014 branded content will be more creative, more contextual, and more targeted.
We will see the continued rise of visual storytelling. Micro-videos will gain momentum and infographics will become the norm for brands to share ideas and concepts, internally and externally.
# 3: Fully-Measured Brand Engagement
Brand engagement in all its forms will come under the scanner of ROI. CMOs and organisations will seek more measured value out of platforms and channels. This will force the ‘KPIs of Engagement’ to be much more than “Click-throughs, Likes and Number of Fans” across the spectrum of agency deliverables. Measurement will require the integration of agencies under a single ROI model for the business.
Business impact will be the new flavor of choice for brand communicators in 2014. Digital, mobile and social media strategies will evolve to be linked to tangible business goals.
# 4: Ubiquitous Mobile and the Hidden Trove
Much has already been written about “the ubiquitous mobile device” – but without much meaningful action by brand communicators in India and Asia-Pacific. 2014 will be the year when brands uncover this hidden trove of mobile brand communications. Instant Messaging (IM) and “Chat-based” social networks such as Whatsapp, WeChat, SnapChat, LINE and others will be utilized for brand communications, as a way to carry branded content to audiences in a targeted manner. Where possible, mobile advertising and other forms of brand engagement across IM platforms will become a dominant feature of digital plans.
While it will take time to become the new normal for brands, in 2014 there will be a few campaigns across Asia-Pacific that will reveal the true power of these mobile networks for brands in the region.
# 5: Social Customer Relations & Service
In 2014 we will see more consumer-driven agenda and purpose marketing. Brands will continue to struggle to cope with customer reactions in real-time. Social CRM will at last become truly meaningful in the context of the allied growth in big-data systems, predictive analysis modeling for brands, and social-driven e-commerce.
The much-overused and hyped concept of “Online Reputation Management” will find few takers in 2014 – instead, “Social Care” will be the new mainstream of service-lead communications; only a lot smarter, more insightful and linked inextricably to the traditional CRM and customer loyalty solutions of brands and businesses.
# 6: Digital’s New Normal – Omni-Channel
The new year will witness omni-channel, transmedia campaigns as the new paradigm in how communications and marketing works. Importantly, multi-channel campaigns will be mapped against how consumers consume branded content to make decisions and form opinions around brand consideration, advocacy and purchase. This new process for campaign development will be a triumph for communications and marketing ROI.
# 7: Communications Creates Commerce
As brand marketplaces across platforms mature to the point of no differentiation in any feature other than pricing and branding, brand communications will take its rightful place as a key differentiator and driver of commerce across platforms.
Technology-aided interventions will get stronger through compelling storytelling that delivers brand, customer experiences and targeted product content more seamlessly.
# 8: Hybrid Teams
Birds of the same feather flock together. Well, not really! Marketing and communications teams within organizations and agencies across Asia-Pacific will become hybrid in 2014 – to bring in diverse skillsets while collaborating across the development of transmedia, omni-channel brand campaigns.
On one hand, this will mean that specialized agencies will come together more often to collaborate at campaign ideation stage.
On the other, integrated agencies will invest to acquire the skillsets of specialized agencies in an attempt to deliver to the promise of full-service offerings across a complex, increasingly fragmented digital landscape.
This article was written by Zaheer Nooruddin, APAC regional studio D lead and Soumya Dev, India Digital Lead, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide.