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The world of content marketing is ever-changing. We’re continuously introduced to new social network algorithms, new marketing tools and new connected devices, giving brands fresh challenges and opportunities to engage with target audiences. Forecasted to be worth a staggering $412 billion by 2021, up from a $195 billion valuation in 2016, the content marketing industry is booming, and so we can all expect more content to be produced. But what will that content look like in 2019? We asked the experts for their thoughts on where the market is headed.

1. Brands Will Have Access to More Data

As more everyday items and objects become connected devices, brands will gain access to deeper analytics information to deliver highly relevant, personalized, and contextual marketing messages. Jeffery Vocell, Senior Manager of Product Marketing at Cambridge MA.-based Hubspot explained how this influx of data will assist brands in accelerating their customer data platforms (CDP). 

“As CDP begin to accelerate more, there will be more opportunities to segment and target authentic content to audiences with more data. This means communicating with individuals across multiple channels, multiple forms of content, in a human and helpful way. This type of automation will naturally help marketers build a relationship and grow with their customers,” Vocell said.

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2. Brands Will Increasingly Rely on Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence

In addition to increasing access to more insightful and profound consumer data, Vocell also highlighted how the evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies will be utilized by brands to deliver personalized marketing messages at scale.

“As automation becomes more sophisticated it will also incorporate more ML and AI. While these buzzwords are the talk of the industry, in 2019 we will start to truly see success from using these technologies. The more data we have from a CDP, the more we can leverage ML to determine what is effective, and start to tee-up new automation opportunities automatically,” Vocell explained.

3. More Focus on Omnichannel Content Delivery

Gerry Widmer, CEO at San Diego-based Zesty.io, has noticed many big name brands are expanding their “content marketing efforts” to new channels. Widmer stated that as these brands lead the way in omnichannel content marketing, more will follow suit. “Brands such as Tide, Johnnie Walker, and Zyrtec are expanding their content marketing efforts to new channels such as Amazon Alexa in interesting ways. And, it's not as resource intensive as one may think. As these brands lead the way in exploring new frontiers, more brands and agencies will follow in their footsteps,” Widmer claimed.

Widmer continued by explaining how brands will re-use existing content for new channels, citing that such a strategy makes for, “a great way to use work you've already done and [reach out to] potential customers in a new avenue.”

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4. Brands Will Begin to Focus Efforts for AR and VR Devices

Besides seeing more brands focusing their efforts on omnichannel content delivery, Vocell predicted there will be an increased uptake in both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)  devices and advised brands to consider how to deliver their experiences through these devices.

“More [AR and VR] devices, like Oculus, are being released at affordable consumer prices which will drive adoption of this technology. Marketers need to consider how they can create engaging experiences using VR [and] AR that span across these channels and integrate it into their marketing,” Vocell said.

5. Increase in User-Generated Content

The influencer market industry has been estimated to be worth $10 billion by 2020, according to Adweek. However, Brenna Johnson, Senior Product Strategist at Redwood Shore CA.-based Oracle, noted that in 2019, brands will turn to user-generated content to promote their product as she believes that “loyalists are the next brand ambassadors”.

“There’s nothing bigger in 2019 than the power of an influencer. And the good news is, marketers don’t need to contact publicists or pay big fees to have a celebrity unbox your goods on Instagram. They can turn every day, happy shoppers into brand ambassadors. Customer advocacy marketing platforms are able to harness the power of word-of-mouth and turn user-generated content into marketing gold,” Johnson said.

6. Natural Language Integration

Lisa Barone, CMO at New York-based Overit referenced a ComScore study that forecasted 50 percent of all searches will be done via voice search by 2020. Barone shared that in the next year, brands will focus on adapting their content to how consumers are searching on a voice application and apply natural language.“As a marketer, you would have to be crazy to ignore the shift [from screen to voice search] happening not only in technology, but in consumer behavior,” Barone said.

“We're using voice for a mix of transactional and informational queries. Over the next year, we’ll see a larger focus on adapting content to fit how consumers are searching today. [Brands will optimize] content around questions, [focus] on naturally-phrased keywords, and [set up] content to succeed from a site architecture standpoint,” Barone continued.

7. Content Will Be Adapted to The Younger Generation

Generation Z is slowly but surely taking up more of the world’s workforce, and content will need to reflect that in 2019. Sarah Ward, Marketing and Communications Manager at Lakewood CO-based Page 1 Solutions, has shared that brands in 2019 will continue to adapt their content delivery to the younger generation. “With Millennials and members of Generation Z making up more than 30% of the US population and contributing over 1 trillion dollars in purchasing power, content marketing will continue to adapt to a younger demographic,” Ward said.

As digital natives, Generation Z are tech-savvy and more demanding of omnichannel solutions that reach even the newest IoT devices and touchpoints. Ward explained that these generations have witnessed the “ebb and flow of social media's power, are used to ephemeral content, and crave digital interactions that are quick and easy, yet authentic.”

"To reach younger generations, we will see companies continue to pull back the curtain on what makes them tick. [This is] marketing that features the personality of a brand by highlighting company culture, stories behind the products and individual staff profiles. [It] will [help to] establish trust and [build an] authentic connection that today's youth demand,” Ward claimed.