For Russian communications agencies, the year 2019 has meant adapting to transformation, change and a number of worldwide trends.
Such trends as the reduced appeal of traditional media, strong audience fragmentation, the increasing impact of social media and the vanishing border between marketing and PR are all having their effect. Along with the high degree of competition among Russian communication agencies, these trends are predetermining the work of the country’s communications industry for the next 3-5 years.
The awareness and desire of employees of communication agencies and marketing teams to become real ambassadors of the brand they represent is growing. Top management actively appears in the media as speakers and authors of expert articles, addressing not only the development of their industry but also related fields that include promotion, PR and marketing communications.
Many Russian companies focus on conducting research about their customers and audience. It is the best marketing solution. Building relationships, increasing engagement, loyalty and customer retention are really important for modern marketing. Voice search plays a big part in digital marketing strategies, as it helps companies use customer behavior data to communicate with them. Companies are beginning to go beyond consulting obligations and are establishing integrated partnerships with solution providers who offer comprehensive tools to help them manage their business tasks.
First of all, of course, we are talking about artificial intelligence technologies, which are beginning to fulfill increasingly complex functions, such as forecasting trends in social networks or evaluating the potential impact of news. The development of digital technologies is also on the rise—a result of the increasing popularity of the voice format for interacting with gadgets.
Voice competes with text and image in the digital world. This is mainly since voice assistants are becoming smarter, interesting podcasts continue to be broadcast and chatbots successfully help in communication. This year, for example, the Russian search engine Yandex has launched the Yandex.Dialogs service, which allows you to insert a chat widget directly into search results, as well as offering the ability to create your own skill (automated assessment of some aspect of a user's responses) for Alice, Yandex’s voice assistant.
If we talk about promotion through visual content, the main role here is played by Instagram, which recently began testing a new platform concept—“no likes.” In the field of digital marketing, personalization is crucial when it comes to attracting an audience’s attention. Today, consumers want to interact with brands on a more personal level and treat them as individuals. And although in Russia the visibility of the “like” marks under the photo has not yet been canceled, social media marketing has already created several ways to adapt the measurement of effectiveness and engagement on Instagram to the new concept. One is by using the Instagram Stories format with polls, questions, tests, masks and GIFs. There is also the possibility of chatting in Direct for brand fans, or direct communication with subscribers. Even traditional media are beginning to actively involve their audience in direct, face to face interaction.
You do not need to be a leading marketer to understand that over the past few years, advertising in Russia has undergone significant changes. Platforms such as Facebook and Google have changed the traditional work model of advertising agencies, in which long-term contracts gave them almost complete control over media strategies and brand budgets. Now, companies have technologies that provide control over the brand’s voice, data and marketing strategy. For example, more and more companies are taking over their own advertising, and the most promising areas are video and native advertising.
Trends do not form—or disappear—over the course of one year. In the trends of 2019, we see only a new, unusual appearance of the echoes of those trends, which will be broadcast by Russian communication teams, both in Russia and to foreign markets.
Vladimir Stupnikov is president of iMARS Communications and CEO of SPUTNIK marketplace in Moscow.