The fun thing about Digital Marketing is that it is always changing. I know you’re probably reading a bunch of these types of articles at this time of the year. I hope you take a moment to read this one, I’m sure you’ll find it refreshing, unique, and hopefully informative.
These are the trends I anticipate to appear, change, or make an impact in 2017.
1. Google Will Demand Mobile and Website Synchronicity
At some point in the year Google will begin wanting a website’s entire content included in or easily accessed from the website’s mobile app. This is already useful in SEO. For example if you have the Yelp app installed and you search for ‘sushi’ you’ll often notice a listing for Yelp in Google’s mobile index that ranks highly in the results (though just below Google’s own listings).
This means having a mobile app in 2017 becomes a necessity for every business as does getting their consumers to install it. Mobile app businesses should see good results and hopefully we’ll see some CMS (hey you WordPress you alive?) make an official update/plugin/extension to facilitate this more easily.
2. Voice Powered Home Appliances Will Continue To Proliferate and Become Increasingly Useful and Invasive
If you sell consumer goods or have something like an appointment booking system, making an app for Alexa, Cortana, and Google Assistant is becoming an increasing requirement and quickly. This trend is not limited to stand alone speaker devices either. Smart Mirrors are a big trend in the tech DIY community right now and could make a lucrative offering for reeling hardware manufacturers trying to rebound like Dell or Blackberry or even Apple. When I predicted the onset of this voice powered search age, I foresaw it’s ability to fundamentally change how consumers interact with digital technology which lead me to predict the death of the common website. I’ve noted many colleagues purchasing Amazon Echo and Google Home and noted many friends not in this industry getting them for Christmas. According to Geekwire 5.1 million Amazon Echo devices had been sold since their 2014 debut. That number could easily double or triple in 2017.
3. Facebook’s New Recommendations Will Become a Pay-to-Play Arena in Some Aspects
I predicted this sort of advertising element when I wrote about my ideal social network, Stax, on Reddit back in 2013. When Facebook launched their Recommendations I made the prediction that they would turn it into an ad unit. This will allow businesses to target specific types of consumers based on deep psychographic profiles at the moment they are likely to make a purchase. This will be a huge advertising channel for car dealers, professional maintenance services, and casual medical services such as dermatology and dentists at the very least and could impact various other industries as well. This could prove to be the best ROI value play of 2017.
4. The Epidemic of Fake News Will Not Stop Due to Consumers
It will require strong action from platforms (i.e. Google and Facebook) to stop those profiting from it’s proliferation, which is unlikely to occur in 2017 due to things like the group Digital Content Next lobbying the major platforms. I’ve continually asked Google and Facebook employees why they simply dont tell news outlets to tag satire and opinion news so they can apply filters correctly and handle user complaints about mislabeled content. This seems like a simple enough solution to implement inside the way they both operate right now. Instead both platforms seem to be trying to get really techy with their solutions. If you’re curious about fake news on Facebook this article might interest you as I predicted that it would become a problem with some data.
5. Automated Bots Will Become Consumer Friendly
Imagine personal shopper bots helping consumers find new and highly rated Gluten Free products or new fashion accessories across platforms. 2017 could be the year that machine learning is leveraged by consumers to do things, instead of by platforms to make money. My team and I built one such bot for our marketing purposes and will continue work on our technology with our partners. I see this trend as another big threat to search engines and a far more user-friendly way to do things. When there are one-to-one interactions without an algorithm, there is competition. That means if any of these are paid the prices will be lower (good for business owners) and there will be plenty of options and features for years to come (good for consumers).
6. Live Streaming Will Get Its Act Together in 2017
While many previous platforms have offered live streaming such as Justin.TV, LiveStream, Vine, Twitch.tv, U-Stream, Stickam, Google Hangouts, Periscope, and Meerkat; in 2016 Facebook added the capability and it has taken the world by storm. Simultaneously Twitter announced they would roll Periscope functionality into their PlatformPlatform noun Any website, mobile app, SaaS, or other digital application which allows the public to own accounts that provide data which can be extracted... and landed a contract to stream NFL games. Unfortunately none of thse offerings are really user friendly or offer a whole lot of value to content creators or businesses. This evening while writing this a friend of mine on Facebook got drunk and started live streaming and talking to themselves. Things like this will quickly change and could be a much cleaner experience in 2017 (hopefully).
7. Stand Alone 360 degree Video/Image Hosting
Stand alone 360 degree video hosting and possibly a social network (i.e. YouTube) around 360 degree photos and videos is likely to emerge. With many devices now capable of seeing 360 degree content and with its relative popularity it’s only a matter of time before someone tries to capitalize that isn’t named Facebook or Google/YouTube.
8. Easier VR Content Creation Could Become a Reality
VR headsets are everywhere today, including inside of magazines and for sale at FedEx Office locations. This is a good sign that more consumers are adopting the tech, which means good experiences are coming. Could we see a CMS that visualizes your website content in a virtual environment? Possibly. Or something far less cool.
9. Drone Delivery Gets Cheaper, Goes Further, Delivers More
Drone Delivery for light weight, impulse items is quickly becoming a standard necessity. 7-Eleven delivered 77 packages this year in Reno, NV. All small items such as snacks and travel size medicines. Look for this to begin to transform the convenience store landscape and drain already strained revenues from businesses that rely on this model. Consumers could really take to drone delivery, an idea I’ve been personally supportive of since 2012, and if they do things will get pretty interesting in the impulse buying retail world.
10. Dark Consumers / Dark Data Problems Worsen
Dark Consumers will continue to muck up data and make things harder to anticipate. Dark Consumers are those who use ad blockers or similar software or simply refuse to have a social media profile. I noted a trend of people leaving social media during the election and many may not return. Others such as police officers, defense contractors, and even some marketers have begun changing their social media profiles to contain fake information on purpose to make it more difficult to find them and harder to target them with ads and offerings.
11. The War of the Walled Gardens Will No Longer Be Easy to Brush Off
While tech giants Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft agree to work on some projects together they are enemies all vying to build the biggest online network of consumers to sell ads against or sell products too or a combination of those. Microsoft’s purchase of LinkedIn further escalated this war which has each company trying to retain exclusive consumers or content. AT&T and Verizon want to enter this war with each buying major companies and content creators this year. The new STP’s are tech giants owning the internet access, the internet portal, the end content site, the hosting the content is on, and the advertising technology in the middle. This has yet to draw the ire of regulators and could force homogeneity into the digital internet world making it more difficult to stand out and get your content to produce valuable ROI. For example Google’s AMP has come under fire for taking content from a website and hosting it on Google’s servers but stripping away all marketing information and Apple came under fire when they announced a browser that included ad blocking and simultaneously Apple News which would force viewers to watch advertising.
12. PC Culture Will Become Increasingly Unpopular (with youth)
No matter your politics we are entering into the first 4 years of President Donald Trump, who largely won due to Americans who were weary from politically correct culture and a lack of personal revenue increase. Early in 2016 I saw the “Roast Me” trend start up where users would ask to be insulted on a website, showing far before election day that consumers were actively seeking to escape and relax a bit more. This means that so called ‘social justice warriors’ and ‘social good corporations’ might be dealt a serious blow by over pushing their viewpoints in 2017. Instead I see the tactic of giving consumers facts, data, and information to help them make decisions as a growing need.