Bing’s marketing predictions for 2018

Axel Steinman is VP of International Search Advertising Sales at Microsoft. Axel is responsible for growing our Bing Ads business in EMEA. In this region, his team partners with media agencies, search tool providers and direct advertisers across all verticals to manage their search marketing. Axel has an extended international career, leading business divisions across all global markets, with twenty-seven years of experience working in digital media and technology industries. He has spent the last ten years focused on expanding digital advertising and Microsoft’s consumer online business.

It’s that time again when we look back at what happened in 2017 and predict how it will shape the year to come.

The world of marketing was certainly a busy one during 2017. We talked a lot about personalisation, and whilst that will remain incredibly important, the next step in 2018 will be marrying it with intelligent search intent data, to deliver true value to consumers.

It was also hard to escape the phrase ‘artificial intelligence’ in 2017 and based on this, next year is set to be driven by emotional intelligence, captured by AI – both in the ways and means this insight is pulled, but most importantly, how it is used.

So, without further ado, my top predictions for next year are as follows.

Emotional Intelligence will take brand engagement to the next level

We are currently at a really exciting tipping point for AI and Machine Learning – the opportunities these technologies are opening for consumers and enhancing their everyday lives is phenomenal.

We already expect technology to react to our requests in natural ways; listening (can interpret your spoken language more effectively than humans), watching (can see if you are smiling, gauge your age, understand your environment), talking (can engage in conversation), collating information (from connections with people, places and things) and sharing what is most pertinent to us personally.

there is a duty for marketers to establish the social implications of the technologies

Next year emotional intelligence will really start to take off. Already today, the chatbot Xiaoice holds EQ able to detect bullying conversational content and enforce ‘time out’ for the author to contain negative or unfair influence. 

With more powerful APIs not only responding to us, but considering our emotions to determine their responses, brands and advertisers will be able to build deeper understandings and connections.

The opportunities these AI algorithms present for marketers are unlimited. However, for these advancements to truly become part of our everyday lives, there is a duty for marketers to establish the social implications of the technologies. Clear transparency in communications with customers, regarding how AI is being used for good in their business, should be a priority for marketers.

Intent on personalized marketing

With a multitude of digital connection points for every person across their lives and technologies, brands have the opportunity to harness deep insight into the people they are trying to reach.  In 2018 we will go beyond flat historical behavioural insight and marketers will start to tap into understanding consumer intent.

Often, if something is preoccupying us, we will read up on it online before talking about it to others or taking any remedial actions and many of us have our ‘diaries’ and a large part of our social interactions online as well as our professional lives. 

Technology, such as search and AI capabilities embedded across each of the services we interact with, gathers an assimilated set of signals, enabling understanding of not only what people are proactively looking for but their underlying need and the ‘why’ – their true intent.

This means brands will be able to pre-empt a person’s needs and offer serendipitous experiences. By establishing trust with their consumers, brands will enter a new era of personalized service and deliver true value.

The evolution of voice search

2017 saw a real breakthrough in terms of voice controlled systems and, as a result, the appeal of voice search is expanding, opening up a whole world of potential to the relationship between humans and technology.  

retail and commerce industries will see rapid success with voice search adoption

Ordering taxis, takeaways and asking for directions through voice activated search is becoming part of our everyday lives. These are functional processes and as with all computer systems, it is what we as humans put in, that effects what we get out.

In 2018, we will see companies starting to ‘think voice search’ in the development of their online assets with more semantic and concisely labelled content that can be picked up as integral to the knowledge graph that is tapped into by search technology to power a voice response.

Retail and commerce industries in particular will see rapid success with voice search adoption due to the specificity of the attributes of their product offerings.

Evolving from bot to chatbot

Where bots have truly shown their worth in 2017 is in brands’ integrations with platforms, interreacting with consumers through chatbots. Brands have shown innovation through setting up messenger interfaces which act as a more personal – and cost effective – means to communicate with the consumer and drive them along the buying process.

However, many of these chatbots remain relatively nascent and still appear to consumers that they are talking to a machine. In 2018, we will see how the AI powering chatbots will develop a conversational intelligence.

They will be able to predict, and assist, seamlessly and naturally. Chatbots will also become an integrated part of the consumer search process, facilitating how brands and consumers engage with one another. 

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