4 marketing trends to watch in 2017

CES trends 2017

Last week’s Consumer Electronics Show gave us a look at the technologies that will shape 2017. Since CES is the first conference of the year, it’s a natural time for marketers to come together and reflect on what’s happening in the industry. Throughout CES, I met with marketers to talk about key challenges from 2016, and what’s top of mind for the year to come.

It’s clear we’re hitting a critical turning point for digital marketing. As an industry, we’ve learned a lot about what works–and where the challenges fall. Now it’s time to fix what isn’t working and empower people to build stronger, more creative marketing programs.

As I plan for 2017 with my Pinterest colleagues and our partners, I keep coming back to a few key trends. I believe these topics will define marketers’ agendas for 2017, impacting everything from how brands think about marketing, to how they measure success.

Creativity will drive new growth

In the race for marketing metrics, people have over-indexed on formats like direct response, where creative takes the backseat. The clicks are easy to count, but the ads aren’t connecting with consumers–just look at how popular ad blockers have become.  

Now there’s a renewed focus on creative that stands for more than a metric. In 2017, I expect marketers to pursue a more balanced approach that tempers the need for clear ROI with the need for storytelling and relationship building. Our Promoted Video format is one take on the puzzle: we show static Pins below every video so you can couple an evocative story with a strong call to action.

High-utility content will take center stage

In the past year, we’ve seen an increasing number of videos saved on Pinterest. Pinners are especially likely to save in-depth, high-utility videos. These include product tutorials, project how-to’s and other content that teaches people how to do something that’s useful to their lives. Until now, high-utility videos were largely trapped in places like YouTube, and you only found them if you knew what you wanted. This year, I think we’ll see high-utility content play a bigger role in marketers’ strategies. They’ll need to figure out how to use content to give more value to consumers and bridge that gap between inspiration and action.

Distributed content is the future  

Just a few years ago, content was closely tied to owned channels. Today, discovery can happen anytime, anywhere. Engagement is what matters, regardless of where it happens. Think about Buzzfeed: its site is much less important than it would have been a few years ago. Buzzfeed puts engagement over placement, and distributes content across the web to reach its audiences where they already are.

We’re seeing the same blurred lines in retail, but this poses a special challenge for retailers: how do you ensure fulfillment across all the potential points of discovery? We’re working on that problem too, with new products slated for 2017 that will seamlessly move Pinners from the moment of discovery, to fulfillment.

Measurement will shift to first touch

The industry largely focuses on what’s easiest to measure: last click. Last click intercepts existing demand, but true value comes from creating net new demand. I think digital is finally in a place where we can measure that first touch. Marketers will shift their models to account for the significance of discovery moments. As an advertising platform, we hold ourselves accountable for driving new growth for partners. In 2017, we’ll introduce new tools to fuel that growth, and measurement solutions that help brands better understand the value they’re getting from Pinterest.

Of course, the marketing industry is always evolving. 2017 will undoubtedly uncover new challenges, questions and opportunities. And before we know it, we’ll be back at CES, talking about the year to come.

—Tim Kendall, currently saving to Products I Love