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New Report Reveals Top Trends Shaping Digital Marketing

2019 USC Annenberg Global Communications Report

Worldcom Public Relations Group, the global communications network of independent firms of which True Digital is a member, supported the production of the 2019 Global Communications Report.


Artificial intelligence. Video storytelling. Influencer marketing. These topics dominate the conversation in the world of communications and digital marketing, but we can still only speculate the long-term impact these technologies will have on our lives and work.

To gauge predictions on the future of communication in the world of advancing technology and AI, The USC Annenberg Global Communications Report surveyed PR professionals for their take.

Key Takeaways from the Global Communications Report

Content Brings the Most Value in Shifting Media Landscape

Although the PESO (paid, earned, shared, owned) model has been fundamental to shaping communications strategy, its relevance seems to be shifting as channels continue to collide.

In fact, 62% of communication experts predict consumers won’t be able to distinguish media types. Another 55% argue consumers won’t even care about content sources so long as it provides relevant, valuable information.

What doess this mean for marketers? It is more important to choose the right media for the right audience than differentiate between media types.

With this shift in mind, communications professionals are investing in content strategies, particularly through digital channels. When asked which would provide the most value to their company’s future, respondents ranked the channels as:

  1. Shared Media (38%) – i.e. Social media and online influencers
  2. Owned media (36%) – i.e. Content on owned channels like blogs, website, social profiles and email
  3. Earned media (14%): – i.e. Traditional media coverage
  4. Paid media (12%): – i.e. Advertising and branded content

Visual Platforms Are Telling the Story

The rise of visual media on digital channels has been happening for years but, for the first time, we are seeing text-based platforms decline in importance as a consequence. In fact, a Facebook executive predicted the platform will be all visual content and no text by 2021.

When asked which platforms would be the most important for communications strategy, respondents ranked YouTube and Instagram – platforms designed entirely for visual content – the highest.

2019 USC Annenberg Global Communications Report - Communications Platforms

The rise in visual content is reflective of the move towards storytelling with content, which proves to be more engaging and effective for increasingly distracted audiences. Focus on storytelling in video content to effectively capture attention and ensure messages stay with audiences long after they’re done watching.

Headlines May Overstate the Importance of AI

While 82% of communication and PR professional expect technological innovation to drive changes within the field, the majority do not see AI playing an important role in these changes. In fact, only 18% of PR employees surveyed think AI will become an important tool in the communication profession.

With all the buzz around AI, how can this be? It seems that a lack of knowledge and understanding of the technology is driving this response. Forty percent of respondents reported having no knowledge of future applications of AI in communication, and 46% said they only know of a few possible applications.

For those embracing AI, 33% report the technology will be used primarily to improve customer experience optimization. Professionals also hope to use the technology to streamline data analysis, namely for improving targeting capabilities and measuring results.

Only 12% of respondents are looking to use AI for content creation, however, with skepticism towards the technology’s ability to create relevant, authentic content for audiences.

Trusted Tools Predicted to Hold

Communication professionals stand behind current technologies like social media listening tools and website analytics, predicting these tools will continue to be their most valuable tools. This may again reflect a lack of foresight, with respondents less able to predict how new technologies will add value.

2019 USC Annenberg Global Communications Report - Trusted Communications Tools

If your brand isn’t currently using website analytics to improve user experience or social media tools to engage with audiences, now is the time to begin harnessing these tools.

 

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