There’s no denying that digital marketing is at its peak — the problem is, many of the platforms we use have plateaued. As we strive to find innovation in branding, it may be time to look past what’s already been established to make something new of our own.

As consumers become savvy to how brands operate, they’ve kept a tighter hold on their trust and loyalty. “Because consumers can easily search the web for product information and pricing, brands trying to sell themselves on those qualities won’t stand out,” says Marco Scognamiglio, global CEO of RAPP. “Instead, emotion and affinity are what drives today’s consumers. For brands and marketers, using new technology to create better individual experiences that create emotional attachment and drive consumer engagement is paramount.”

Scognamiglio’s comments are borne out by recent studies. In its 2017 “Consumer Content Report: Influence in the Digital Age,” content platform vendor Stackla found that 90 percent of Millennials consider authenticity the driving force behind their support for a brand, and 30 percent have unfollowed a brand online because they felt the brand was no longer genuine.

Thankfully, some savvy companies are finding a way to make authentic brand connections using a multiplatform approach — a tactic 72 percent of audience members say they would prefer. Here are four different technologies that are gaining traction as valuable marketing platforms in 2018:

  1. Branded Mobile Apps

While CIOs and CTOs may be clamoring for their companies to start developing mobile apps for their businesses, the potential gains extend far beyond the screen. Mobile app downloads reached nearly 200 billion in 2017, and that number is only estimated to climb as the years go on. The average consumer spends five hours a day on his or her phone and uses an average of nine apps, making a mobile platform an ideal way to reach your audience.

Teaming with a skilled app development company that knows what it’s doing can help you break through to the masses. “The huge rewards to be had in mobile development have drawn hordes of potential startup success stories to the market, but only a select few break through to achieve financial success,” explains Marc Fischer, CEO and co-founder of Dogtown Media. “Partnering with a dedicated mobile app development company and planning your app for marketability from day one makes the difference between the success and failure.”

  1. In-Car Ads

It may seem like something out of “Futurama,” but for those looking to reach luxury consumers, an entirely new marketing avenue is driving by. Between Waymo’s and Tesla’s self-driving cars and Uber’s recent deal with Volvo to acquire 24,000 autonomous SUVs, there is soon to be an entire audience of drivers who don’t need to focus on the road.

According to Thomas Bloch, formerly of media agency PHD, these conversations have already begun. “In the near future, autonomous cars will process staggering amounts of data: current and past destinations, speed of travel, demographics and biometrics of the riders, present and future weather, traffic conditions, and nearby landmarks and commercial locations — all of which marketers could access to achieve an unprecedented level of precision in consumer messaging.”

  1. Chatbots

As we switch from man to machine, chatbots have become a fantastic new way to engage your audience with your brand. Think of the bots as Apple’s Siri but personalized for your business. And as new as the technology may be, this marketing method is already a proven success.

Brands like ASOS and National Geographic tested the waters with bots of their own for a limited time, and both were well received, due mostly to the bots’ sense of humor. Other companies, such as Whole Foods and Starbucks, have taken a more permanent approach but are moving forward slowly. As of right now, Starbucks’s bot will only help you order coffee — it can’t deliver it to you — but to be fair, your order can be as complicated as you’d like.

  1. Virtual Reality

VR has seriously grown in popularity over the past few years, if the online buzz is any indication. While full saturation may still be far away, forward-thinking marketers are considering advertising options for VR platforms now.

“Virtual reality is becoming increasingly commonplace as a marketing tool for brands big and small,” says Ashley Murphy of Stribling & Associates. “The challenge is using VR in a way that makes sense for your overall brand messaging and target audience. VR marketing is still emerging, so it’s a great time to explore your options and get ahead of the curve.”

In the end, when refreshing your branding strategy, be sure to deliver value first. Consumers know when they are being sold to, so creating an authentic feeling with any marketing tool you use is the key to gaining a lasting result.

Frank Landman

Frank is a freelance journalist who has worked in various editorial capacities for over 10 years. He covers trends in technology as they relate to business.