Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Obligatory Prediction for Digital Marketing in 2017

For the past 10 years I’ve blogged a prediction about the year to come. Mostly I’ve been right, if sometimes a little too optimistic, so this year I’m gonna calm the hell down and go with what I know f’sure:

Video, especially streaming, is going to be bigger than hip-hop. Get on board or get left behind. Even Twitter released an update this week that’ll let us broadcast live video from its iOS and Android app (presumably powered by Periscope) and have you seen Houseparty (because Generation Z’s on it like Donkey Kong)?

If you’re not streaming Q&As, live events, interviews or product demos then you’re not part of the conversation. Start thinking about this and how you can use it, now. The only obstacles are time (make it), knowledge (that’s what how-to’s on YouTube are for – go crack a book or phone a friend), resources (invest) and budget (find it). Trust me, in 2017 your competition’ll be streaming the b’jesus out of everything, so don’t get left behind.

Fake news is the buzzword right now, and the big boys will have to be seen to be doing something about (I hear ABC and Associated are getting involved) and if the likes of Snopes, FactCheck.org and Politifact start selling their data to Facebook then hopefully it’s pretty much all over for the spammers – though at lot of these stories have their roots in the likes of 4chan and Reddit. Is this censorship? Probably. Did the Russians fix the US election by creating bogus news articles? No idea, but it’s more than possible. The solutions aren't rocket science - hiring human editors, algorithmic checking of reliable sources for citation and crowdsourcing accuracy. Expect this to get a mention in parlement and congrass and it not to go away any time soon.

There’s a chargeable product for the newspapers here, if they’re quick. A paragraph of flavour then a pay wall to read content that's guaranteed-accurate. They’re going to have to do something, with a further growing trend away from both print and online banner advertising.

Everyone’s going to need to at least be seen to address fake news, and social channels (not just Facebook) are going to have to start taking more responsibility for what’s published (instead of concentrating on banning pictures of breast feeding mums) to pacify the users (their source of marketing data, in most cases).

Facebook is still gonna be the daddy. With the development of feature rich messaging bots, with more practical and useful applications, expect to see an easy WYSIWHG creator inherent to the platform soon. Streaming is, obviously, gonna be even bigger.

Social media advertising is growing at 20% a year and the Facebook ad platform is going to get the bulk of any business’s ad spend – with it stealing a massive $1 billion out of print advertising budgets for U.S. newspapers in 2016. It’s comfortably estimated that Google and Facebook will take more than 70% of all money spent on display advertising online in the UK by 2020. Watch out for more video advertising, obviously, and more targeting and ad varients rolled out over the next 12 months.

Other channels, like Snapchat and Instagram, will still be big for the audiences they attract, and will probably still continue to pirate features off each other and from other channels. Something original will come along, championed by an initially niche audience, but god knows if it'll last longer than a month, what it’ll be, or if it’ll be suitable for business – remember Ello and Pokemon Go? The big boys will probably steal the best functionality out of any new channel and make it obsolete fairly sharpish - we may even see the odd legal case tackling such things.

VR is going to hit the mainstream and hopefully garner more acceptance. I’m a big exponent of VR and run a PSVR rig myself at home. I’ve been active in virtual worlds for over 10 years. Augmented is probably where it’s at, however, and we can expect some heavy investment in this area over the next 12 months. Layering digital over the real world has a billion possibilities; it just needs to sell its value to the public at large. A virtual reality version of Google Earth is now available for free on the HTC Vive, and it’s a thing of beauty, but the general user doesn’t yet have access to the kit (mainly due to price point). When it moves to Android we'll see some serious traction.

The AR market will hopefully hit an inflection point in 2017, expect to see more Smartphone integration as standard,  and we’ll see more and more uses of VR for event and stunt marketing. Expect to be handed a headset in the street to demonstrate an idea or product, any day now.

Twitter is (and it pains me to say this) becoming less important. Sure, it’s brilliant for news and publishing, but compared to Facebook it’s not where people are going to be spending their marketing dollars. People are losing confidence in the platform and, unless they pull something unique and of value out of their wazoo soon, the audience and the advertisers are going to be a lot more wary in 2017. I’m already starting to think it has less strategic value for some of my clients, which is a shame as I’m a big fan myself.

We can probably pretty much forget about Google+, unless it’s for SEO support.

In recruiting for social managers and agency employees, the polymaths and generalists will start to get some credit. People are going to be looking for younger brand evangelists and those who can generate passionate content, over those with long-term experience in other sectors.

Every year, for the past six years, I’ve said that companies will start to see the genuine return on investment of social media. Honestly, so few have. So, I think social media ROI will still elude many companies and those companies will get further and further behind – sad but true.

So that’s it. I’m keeping it fairly realistic this year. Obviously there’s a lot of other factors going on in 2017, like Trump and Brexit, but they’re probably best left for another time…

All the best for the year to come, here’s wishing you and yours a very social holidays. J