What is the Future of Brand Discovery?

Jonathan Gardner

Brands looking to get new products or services discovered by customers through digital advertising traditionally relied on search ads to try to connect the discover-to-buy dots. New forms of “search” have become channels for discovery: social media platforms and the visual content that brands share -- and influencers and fans re-share. Now, how consumers navigate these channels is about to undergo a massive shift. The future of brand discovery takes place on an audio/visual landscape, but not in the way you think.

The emergence of new devices and contexts for navigation mean that our hands will soon be freed from doing the searching, and the natural seeing, speaking and listening forms of communication will take over.

Find a mammal that prefers using a keyboard to their actual senses to know about the world around them and to communicate with others. The “data entry” typing on a keyboard method of discovery or communication is archaic and non-naturalistic. As we move toward advanced apps, VR, self-driving cars, etc., it makes sense for our minds to be freed up to engage our senses more directly with the world around us, without the physical aspect of typing wasting our time and getting in the way.

Think about how social platforms are browsed: there is not much typing involved in swiping through a feed, the physical aspect is merely required to navigate.

If consumers are going to be there, marketers should be as well; walking the streets or driving with a device it would be great if the camera, microphone and speaker could team up to supplement your experience rather than distract and pull you away from it. Many in the tech and brand world are making bets that seeing and hearing (and speaking) will be how we wayfind, discover products and content, and make purchases.

For example, while Amazon eats the world, Mondelez’s Ritz Crackers is hoping listeners to its new branded content linked to Amazon Echo will heed their advice and incorporate their product in their recipes. The CPG company is looking to get traction with potential purchasers on a platform dedicated solely to the audio and visual aspects of content and commerce.

Beverage giant Diageo is also making an early play for relevance in a non-typing world, according to Digiday, preparing for a day when a large part of its search buying is for voice rather than text, or rather based on the meaning behind a query instead of a specific keyword. Much of Diageo’s early voice search efforts involve brainstorming what naturally spoken questions may be asked about its brands, especially because there’s a chance that cost per click could rise if there is only room for one paid search placement. Bidding strategies aside, Diageo is also considering the feasibility of producing variations of ad copy that deliver the best possible answers. If someone asked for a Moscow mule, for example, not only would Smirnoff need to have copy in place to answer the query, it might also need copy ready if the next question were “What vodka should I buy?” or “What ingredients are in it?”

As brands like Tommy Hilfiger see the relevance of the visual, working with us to learn from how their audiences engage with their visual content, the tech world is making advance to map our world to help understand what we see and where we’re going. As reported in Wired, Google’s updated Street View initiative is bringing clearer, closer shots of buildings and street signs into their image recognition algorithms. Those algorithms can pore over millions of signs and storefronts without getting tired. By hoovering up vast amounts of information visible on the world’s streets -- signs, business names, perhaps even opening hours posted in the window of your corner deli -- Google hopes to improve its already formidable digital mapping database.

The company wants to handle queries that assume knowledge of what the world looks like, such as, “What’s the name of the pink store next to the church on the corner?” Google’s push to get us talking with its Siri-style virtual assistant encourages us to be more conversational in our demands.

Everyone using visual cues to navigate their world is about to find that wayfinding made more intuitive and naturalistic. The brands we work with recognize the importance of the visual and are looking toward the future. ShareIQ has deep experience with the technical challenges involved in understanding visual content and we’re making a big bet on this being the future of how brands and their customers will navigate the discover-to-buy pathway.

Find out more about brand discovery and how brands can turn social media engagers into purchasers

The future of brand discovery takes place on an audio/visual landscape, but not in the way you think
Jonathan Gardner

Jonathan is vice president of marketing for ShareIQ, based in New York City.