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Future of Marketing & AI

5 Predictions for the Marketing World in 2016

| 7 Minutes to Read
Cartoon of a man standing in front of a crystal ball.

Last year, we took a page out of Rand Fishkin's book and crafted a set of digital marketing predictions for 2015. Well, it's that time of the year again and, like Rand, we're going to grade our previous predictions before we go Nostradamus on the future.

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Here's the grading scale we decided on in last year's post:

  • Oracle (+2) - when we're so right it's like we channeled that nice lady from The Matrix
  • Oracle In-Training (+1) - we didn't quite see the whole picture, but hey, we still saw the future
  • Clear As Mud (0) - we weren't right, but we weren't wrong, either
  • Just A Bit Outside (-1) - we tried to paint the corner of the plate, but the ump didn't give us the call
  • Swing And A Miss (-2) - like a batter who expects a fastball and gets a curve, we weren't close

For 2015, we made five predictions. We also promised donuts to the office if we got more right than wrong, so let's see if there's a trip to Tim Hortons in our future:

#1: Honesty And Transparency Will Be Strategically Implemented And Statistically Measured

Grade: +1

Looking back, this one seems a little difficult to actually grade but hey, we're new at this, so cut us some slack! Assessing whether companies are statistically measuring transparency is a bit ambitious, and it doesn't seem fair that we'd get a point for it. However, transparency was undoubtedly a massive focus across the marketing industry in 2015. And if marketers are touting honesty and authenticity for themselves, you know they're selling it to their clients as well. Entrepreneur, Forbes, and AdAge all wrote about the importance of honesty and transparency in marketing, so we're taking partial points for this prediction.

#2: Global Social Ad Spending Will Increase By Over Two Billion Dollars In 2015

Grade: +2

We predicted this would be an easy prediction, and it was. Again, we're new and we needed some long-hanging fruit so we could at least get something right. How's that for transparency? eMarketer forecasts global social media ad spending will reach $23 billion by the end of 2015, which would be an increase of nearly $5 billion over 2014.

#3: Google+ Won't Die

Grade: 0

This one is clear as mud. As there was last year, there are many people proclaiming Google+ is dead. But this happens every time Google tries to reposition or change the product. Look, Google+ didn't usurp Facebook and Twitter, and since that was the original goal, the platform has definitely failed in more ways than one. But that doesn't mean it's dead. We don't feel good about taking points for this prediction, but we won't take a hit either. If you're interested in some in-depth reading on Google+, this is the best article we found.

#4: "Mobile Content" Or "Non-Traditional Content" Will Become The Hottest Digital Marketing Buzz Word

Grade: -1

It's finally time for our score to take a hit. There are over 18 million Google search results for "content marketing," which is what we were using as a baseline for a digital marketing buzzword. Since "mobile content" has around one million Google results, it's only fair we lose a point here.

#5: Technology Experts Will Gain A Foothold In Marketing Departments (Will Reflect In Job Stats)

Grade: +2

According to a Gartner report, 81% of big firms (those with over $500 million in revenue) have a marketing technologist on their payroll. This is a 10% increase in marketing technologist employment in just one sector, so we're going to take full points for this prediction. The rise of marketing technologist postings on LinkedIn, Monster, Craigslist, and other job boards is already underway.

Final Score: +4

Not too shabby for our first batch of digital marketing predictions. Do you know what this means? Donuts. Donuts for everyone in the office. Huzzah!

Our oracle-strength predictions for 2015 mean we've got work to do to repeat our success in 2016, so let's get right to it with 5 more prognostications:

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#1: People Will Start to Drop the "Digital" in "Digital Marketing"

I'm not exactly sure how we're going to measure this one, but it's something that needs to start happening, simply because it makes sense. Is there really anybody left out there who doesn't believe digital needs to be a large component of any marketing strategy? We certainly hope not, but the truth is there are probably still far too many people and businesses that are unaware their marketing is stuck in the stone age. But maybe the only way stragglers will learn is if we leave them behind.

We'll peruse blogs, search results, and social feeds to verify whether "digital" is being implied when people say or write "marketing."

#2: Mobile Payment Adoption Rates Will See a Significant Spike

With reports of 80% of AppleWatch users at least trying Apple Pay, we feel pretty confident mobile payment usage is about to skyrocket.  This isn't a hard call to make, but thinking about mobile payments now might get you way ahead of the game, so it's certainly a worthwhile prediction in the sense that it's already actionable. The people who have access to mobile payment love it, which is a sure sign that once it becomes an option in more places, it'll take off.

#3: Content Marketing Will Grow Again - In Every Way

Job titles. Dollars spent. Percentage of marketing spend. Search results. In 2016, content marketing will keep growing in every way you can think of. We're going to get aggressive with this one too; next year, if we can't come up with stats to show at least three different ways content marketing has grown, give us -2 points.

#4: Ads Will Continue to Get More Pervasive

I asked a colleague in the office, Lee Scott, to look at marketing's future in his crystal ball and he said, "We'll soon be served ads while riding in our self-driving cars." I initially thought this prediction was too futuristic for 2016 (even though self-driving cars are a thing) but then, during my evening commute, I realized the concepts of the prediction are spot on.

Now when I say "realized" I mean what Lee said essentially happened. No, I don't have a self-driving car, but during my commutes, I use a traffic app called Waze - which sometimes serves ads across the bottom of the screen. When I noticed the ad, I had to chuckle.

There are no doubt ads are becoming more pervasive, and the trend will continue in 2016. Ads follow us around when we browse the Internet. They appear in our social feeds. They pop up in the apps we use. Granted, ads are less annoying because they're more personalized and targeted, but they're not slowing down and will find new ways to grace us with their presence in 2016.

#5: Predictive Content Tools Will Drastically Improve

Back in May, we wrote a post outlining how to use predictive analytics tools to create content that matters. And while the technology is fascinating, it's not quite "there" yet. But it will be, and probably soon. The ability to understand which content topics and types will perform well before being written is a massive competitive edge for businesses that are able to tap into the technology. In 2016, we'll see predictive content tools improve to the level where businesses can start taking advantage.

'Til 2016

We'll keep it to five predictions since it seemed to work so well in 2015. Here's hoping we can once again harness the power of an oracle! Remember, we'll be back here in 12 months' time to grade these predictions and gaze into the next year and beyond.

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