So, we’ve arrived at that time of year when everyone steps up on his or her soapbox and prognosticates about the future of marketing. It’s a ritual of sorts – a right of passage as we move into a new year. While I’m certainly not clairvoyant, there are a few things that I’m watching out for next year. Perhaps you are too?
1) Content marketing as the new advertising
Content marketing has been everywhere for the last two years, but it’s reached a new level of absurdity. Every article we read. Every meeting we are in. It has officially replaced social as the topic du jour. Friends that have been working in the B2B space for a long time love every second of it because it’s been core to their marketing mix for a very long time (in their own special way). I think it’s pretty safe to assume that more and more dollars will go toward content production and marketing efforts. Why? Because people consume content at amazing clips and brands need/want to be part of that equation. Producing useful or entertaining content and distributing it in the right places is an amazingly effective way to build brand awareness and drive traffic today. Doing it well is not easy and most marketers we talk to aren’t structured that well to do it. I expect brands to invest here and reach out to the best storytellers to help them create content in all shapes and sizes.
2) Marketers finally looking beyond clicks as primary online measurement tool
Since the beginning of pay-per-click (PPC) and display advertising, clicks have ruled as the primary method for judging effectiveness of online media. At times, we’ve seen indicators like engagement and interaction rates rise as alternative measures, they just haven’t caught on. Well, with Facebook and Google making very strong cases for alternative measurement, it is hopeful that we will finally move the discussion beyond clicks.
3) Big data finally starts to have its day
Marketers have troves of data at their disposal, yet they struggle to leverage that data because it sits in so many disparate systems. Take the airline industry for instance – they often have hundreds of IT systems. Well, these systems are finally getting integrated, which means marketers can start customizing deals, offers, emails, communication, etc. to their customers to create greater personalization, relevance and drive bottom line revenue. It’s a win-win for both brands and consumers. My hope is I stop getting blanket emails telling me about travel deals to places like Cleveland and Saratoga (no offense if you live there) and start getting smart deals based on my past browsing and purchasing behavior. Someone will get this right in 2013 – and it might be British Airways.
4) Video, video, video
Video content continues to dominate the social and mobile web and is the easiest cross-platform content to create. Marketers will invest even more heavily in video content and we’ll see an increase in partnerships between brands, agencies and proven content creators like SAG writers, comedians, etc. These videos will truly begin to turn our brains into mushymush.
5) The mobile wallet will transform the daily deals industry
Why am I talking about mobile wallets? Because big brands like Starbucks, eBay, Walmart, Apple, Google and Square are helping to push the idea to consumers. With the amount of data that exists on each and every mobile device, this innovation will dramatically transform the daily deals market with loads of customized deals built directly into our devices. Groupon and LivingSocial see this coming and are rapidly diversifying their businesses. We’ll see if they can change fast enough to stick around. In either case, we’ll all choose a mobile wallet in 2013.
6) Mobile consumption will top TV
We’re getting close and lots of data highlights mulitscreen consumption by a huge portion of the population. Think about it. When you’re at home for the holidays, look around at the number of people that can’t stop touching their phone. Or maybe you’ll find yourself in deep discussion with your family after spending three days together and realize you’re all looking at something on your phone or tablet at the same time while the TV is on in the background. Mobile will absolutely be the most important screen in 2013 and that will cause massive problems for brands that are not prepared for it.
7) More startup disruption
Maybe I’ve just been drinking too much of the cool-aid here in San Francisco or Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report got me, but I foresee huge disruptions coming in 2013. Vertically integrated startups born in the connected era will continue to disrupt the old guard consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies. These startups are built for the mobile social web, making many of them instantly relevant to today’s consumers. We’ll see five big disruptions in 2013 for every Dollar Shave Club we heard about in 2012. These direct-to-consumer brands leverage technology, margins and word-of-mouth marketing to rapidly scale. We’ll certainly see some legacy brands acquiring and partnering with these new companies, but history shows that some legacy brand will be made irrelevant in 2013. The question is who?