Predictions 2017: Digital Marketing
My annual digital marketing predictions are now in their ninth year, with a fairly respectable past success rate . I’m particularly pleased with my prediction last year that adblocking would be a big story in 2016. So, as this year draws to a close, what might 2017 have in store for us? Here are my predictions for the next 12 months:
#1 TV struggles further against YouTube
For the first time this year, UK children aged 5-15 years old are spending more time online than watching TV and the already beleaguered TV industry, with revenues falling, is doing some serious soul-searching. Advertisers are still over-indexed to legacy media with US stats showing adults spending 36% of their time on TV versus advertisers allocating 39% of their ad spend to that channel. (Mobile stats are even more dramatic – 25% of time spent versus 12% of ad spend). With further shifts from TV to online advertisers are only going to be looking further at how to move their ad spend to digital to keep pace with the demographic shift.
YouTube is the real winner here with 73% of 5-15 years using the platform and 57% of them saying they watch ‘short online video clips’ as their primary activity online. There’s a huge opportunity for brands to develop video content for the YouTube generation but to be successful ads need to be; authentic, entertaining, evoke emotion, and importantly, work with sound off. Expect to see video and vlogger competition heating up.
#2 Millennials further drive ecommerce growth
Millennials, the optimistic, globally minded, tolerant generation we all love to hate, have been driving rapid ecommerce growth since they came of age. In 2000 ecommerce represented 2% of all retail sales (US) versus 10% of retail sales in 2016 and as their purchasing power builds this can only grow. With nearly 72 percent of millennials researching their shopping options online before going to the store and viewing shopping as entertainment, just as much as a purchasing opportunity, the implications for struggling retailers over-invested in bricks and mortar is huge.
Unless your retail outlets can provide the immersive entertainment experiences millennials crave (think Apple stores as the model) then your focus needs to be on providing a seamless and integrated online experience with the strong social media tie-ups and evidence of social responsibility that millennials seek.
#3 The beginning of the end for text?
Whereas ecommerce is benefiting from the millennial effect, the shift from the written to the visual online is all driven by Generation Z.
Currently, in their teens and tweens this next generation after the millennial cohort have been described as ‘millennials on steroids’. Whereas millennials communicate with text, Gen Z – using up to five screens at once – communicate mainly with images. SnapChat is their preferred hangout and their smartphone usage is all about using the camera for storytelling and creating. If you want to appeal to this generation as they’re growing into their purchasing power, then developing shareable images and telling entirely visual stories is the way to go.
#4 Messaging redefines what social media is
Messaging, (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat) is evolving from simple text to self-expression via emojis and is increasingly displacing interactions on established social media platforms like Facebook. The shift is fundamentally from social media interactions primarily happening in public to them happening in private – which will ultimately redefine the very nature of social media.
Some brands are already experimenting with using messaging apps to reach customers creating groups to share their exclusive offers. With messaging apps all capitalising on their enormous base of users and expanding functionality to include money transfers, gaming, ecommerce, advertising and much more, the potential for brands is huge.
#5 The third wave of Big Data – Fast Data
Technology that produces data is proliferating rapidly, almost daily it seems; Fitbits, apps, smart cards, smart home appliances etc. We’ve been living through the first era of Big Data for some time now, the next stage is now to pull all this data together and interpret and act on it to enhance lives and make businesses more efficient. Expect some big leaps in Big Data in 2017 as companies that have been working on this field start to see results. (And with this, expect to see yet more data privacy fears. 74% have limited their online activity in last year due to privacy concerns).
#6 Uber creates a commuting revenue stream
Uber has been the huge digital success story of 2016 and with ambitious revenue growth targets it’s not inconceivable that they could now find a way of monetising all those journeys by finding a way to sell to the commuter in the back seat. This probably won’t be via a screen, expect maybe a radio channel or a podcast streamed to the driver’s car music system. Each year one of my predictions is a bit left field – and this year this is the one!
#7 Bots continue their march
Microsoft’s controversial Tay AI chat bot launched on Twitter this year and grabbed headlines after it turned into a Hitler-loving sex-promoting mouthpiece within days.
But chatbots are nothing new, the world’s first chatbot therapist, Eliza, was launched by MIT back in 1964. (You can still talk to Eliza about your problems here). Driven initially by customer service needs to keep costs down, bots, also sometimes called virtual assistants, are now infiltrating every area of our lives and, liberated from the desktop, are now appearing in our cars and our homes. Expect many more bots in your life in 2017.
#8 Tech moves from touch to voice
Building on the bot theme, 2017 will see more developments in the evolution of tech from touch to voice-operated. Since the advent of the personal computer we’ve all been using our digits to interact with tech but, as speech recognition becomes more sophisticated, that’s set to change. With the leap from 95% accuracy (still pretty frustrating) to 99% (quicker and easier than typing the same words) all of us will go from barely using voice-based commands to using them all the time.
Google Trends show that voice searches have risen 7x since 2010 (Google voice search was launched 2009) and users say the place they most want to use voice-based commands and searches are in the home. Expect more products along the Amazon Echo line in 2017.
#9 Brands pour budgets into ‘live’ digital events
Facebook Live, Instagram Stories and Snapchat have been the big online trends this year and brands are increasingly experimenting with live events and broadcasts on their social channels. As part of the move away from text towards image, and from static to moving, expect more budgets to be poured into the ‘live’ arena in 2017.
#10 More internet disruption to legacy business models
It’s hard to believe the world wide web is only 25 years old (Tamar is 21 years old this year) and internet disruption is still only at its very early stages. This current generation of internet brand leaders (Amazon, eBay) is growing much faster than previous brands and global internet market leaders like Apple and Google are now awash with cash. Expect another ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ business model to emerge (think Uber, AirBnb) which will shake up the foundations of an established industry. If I knew which industry and which business model I’d be a rich woman – but whatever it is, it’s coming.
That’s it for 2017! Let me know what you think of any of these predictions and tell me if you’ve got any of your own you want to add?