In any role, it can be all too easy to fall into a comfort zone; you figure out a method that works, perfect your execution and watch as the fruits of your labor flood in. And repeat.

Of course, this can be a perfectly acceptable approach, but resting on your laurels can potentially cost you in the long term. While you’re using your tried and tested way of working over and over, your competitors are not only catching up, but trying out new ways of working that could leave you behind.

Digital and content marketing is an industry that prides itself on innovation. It is, of course, the data-driven offspring of traditional marketing, but results from Zazzle Media’s recent State of Content Marketing Survey revealed that even our industry is guilty of dragging its heels when it comes to jumping on emerging trends and technologies.

For example, just 2% of marketers surveyed said that voice search would be a key focus for them this year. While this is somewhat caveated by the fact that 17% of the marketers we asked are going to introduce voice search into their marketing mix in the next year, it’s still a low percentage of people who are eager to take the reins and own this space.

This trend continues across the survey, with the three least used channels comprising emerging technologies that have generated a lot of hype and excitement in the marketing space.

Just 13% of marketers are using programmatic as a marketing method and despite the massive growth and spread of virtual reality (VR) in marketing in 2017, only 6% are using this channel right now.

So why are these percentages so low?

You could argue that this is to be expected, but, 13%, 6% and 3% are staggeringly low numbers for trends that are touted to be the next big thing. And while ensuring foundation services such as written content and SEO are up to standard is essential, so is making sure your services are futureproof and ready to tackle the next big shift in marketing activity.

Brands also have the opportunity to win big by using emerging platforms in creative and engaging ways. In fact, we’ve already seen a number of examples of marketing campaigns incorporating these technologies to great effect, capturing consumers’ attentions in ways not possible through more mainstream techniques.

Pepsi’s Unbelievable Bus Shelter



How do you take a regular bus stop advertisement and turn it into a talking point among London commuters? As part of their promotion for their #LiveForNow campaign, Pepsi created an augmented reality bus shelter, which combined real-life imagery of London’s surroundings and overlapped it with some pretty interesting scenarios.

Showcasing everything from alien invasions, marauding tigers and even a giant robot attacking the city, this campaign managed to capture the imagination of the public and has so far clocked up over eight million views on YouTube. Sales of Pepsi Max were also up 35% year over year for the month the creative was live.

TOMS Shoes & AT&T: “A Walk in Their Shoes”



Shoe brand TOMS Shoes partnered up with internet provider AT&T to create a VR experience entitled “A Walk in Their Shoes”. The experience chronicles the journey of a Toms customer from California who he travels to Colombia to meet a child who benefits directly from his purchase.

AT vice president of brand marketing, Fiona Carter, told Fast Company that the goal was to celebrate Toms’ success over the last decade in an exciting and new way.

“What we love about this is that it’s a really immersive way to experience the impact that buying one pair of Toms shoes can have, in this case on one boy in Colombia,” says Carter. “It’s a powerful way to show how to make a difference in the world.”

Missing People make the most of advertising budget through programmatic

Innovation doesn’t have to be flashy, and while VR and augmented reality set pieces are effective visually, sometimes emerging platforms can help enhance reach.

The charity Missing People made the most of this concept by enhancing its outdoor advertising spend by shifting a portion of their budget from print to programmatic.

Before using programmatic, the charity was only able to advertise one appeal per week for a missing child across the whole of the UK. However, since investing in this method, the charity is able to run more targeted, location-based appeals outdoors that can be replaced as soon as a child is found.

Ross Miller, director of fundraising and communication at Missing People, told Marketing Week:

“When we first started using out-of-home, 50% of children we appealed for were found alive. When we switched to a more programmatic use of out-of-home our response rate went to 70%. People respond to a message that is relevant to either where they live or a location.”


These examples prove that emerging platforms have a role to play in content marketing in 2018 and beyond, and perhaps it’s a question of confidence as to why more marketers are hesitant to rolling out these new methods of working.

Content marketers need to prove their worth – having confidence in the practices, and being brave with the opportunities available will allow marketers to test, iterate and learn from their marketing efforts and emerging platforms have a large part to play in this.

The end of 2018 could look very different for marketers’ results if they’re brave with these new methods.