LONDON: Using technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality effectively, and rethinking social video, are among the key challenges marketers face in 2017, according to a new report produced by Warc in collaboration with Deloitte Digital.

The Toolkit 2017 report examines six marketing trends for the year ahead, distilling the thinking and research published on Warc, and Deloitte Digital's practical experience, into a guide for marketers.

Artificial intelligence (AI), for example, is expected to deliver marketing opportunities around insight generation, chatbots, personal assistants and optimisation of media buying.

Virtual reality, meanwhile, is close to fulfilling its promise as a viable mainstream marketing tool capable of offering emotionally engaging brand experiences. Augmented reality has been around longer, but the success of Pokémon GO has prompted a reassessment of the technology's marketing possibilities.

Social video has seen massive growth as a content marketing format, with social platforms turning into broadcast media. While this trend is expected to continue in 2017, brands will need to put greater emphasis on quality rather than quantity and to consider the emotional and social motivations for content engagement.

The flip side of social as a broadcast medium is the growing use of messaging apps, where communications between users are private and so are of limited usefulness to advertisers. The rise of so-called 'dark social' points to a need to develop a more intimate conversational approach.

Brands are also looking at ways to take their product direct to the consumer, via connected buttons, for example, or through subscriptions. Unilever's $1bn purchase of Dollar Shave Club indicated that the subscription model is being taken very seriously by established brands.

Finally, there is the ongoing question of how to market most effectively in the digital age – should a brand go for reach or for close targeting with its communications? Recent research has also suggested that brands are failing to adequately balance short- and long-term marketing strategies.

Toolkit 2017 is being officially launched at an event in London tomorrow morning. Speakers include Hugo Pinto of IBM Interactive Experience, Chris Arnold of ZenithOptimedia Group and Ed Grieg of Deloitte Digital. Readers wishing to attend can register here.

Data sourced from Warc