Well, it’s that time of the year again: the one where we make a few predictions for the marketing world, and revisit our past prognostications. We started doing these prediction posts back in 2014 after we read Rand Fishkin’s annual predictions. In case you’re curious about how how our future-telling escapades have gone, read our 2015 and 2016 marketing prediction posts.

As usual, we’re going to grade last year’s predictions before we allow ourselves to make another set but SPOILER ALERT: we’ll be gazing into our crystal ball either way.

Here’s the grading scale we decided on in 2014’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 fastball and gets a curve, we weren’t close

For 2016, we made these five predictions:

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

Grade: 0

To be honest, we knew this was going to be a tough one to grade. Dropping the “digital” in “digital marketing” is something we wanted to see happen, but was it just wishful thinking on our part? As we’ve graded ourselves, the answer is clear as mud.

We found an article discussing one big marketing agency’s decision to drop the “digital” from all the organization’s job titles, which we count as a win for us. Yet it still doesn’t seem like enough people have embraced the digital realm as the marketing realm. Heck, we’re still using it ourselves, so we really can’t award any points for dropping the world “digital” in “digital marketing.” Maybe 2017 is the year the domino finally falls.

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

Grade: 0

Another mediocre prediction by us. There is no better microcosm for shopping than Black Friday, and a recent study found that mobile payments accounted for just 0.6% of all sales during the 2016 post-Thanksgiving shopping holiday. The fact that this represented more than double the rate of mobile payment usage on Black Friday 2015 is the only thing keeping us from negative points.

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

Grade: +2

We said we’d show you the stats, so here they are:

It took three predictions, but we’re finally on the board!

#4: Ads Will Continue to Get More Pervasive

Grade: +2

Yes, I’m still using Waze during my commute, and yes, I still see ads flash by all the time. The ads are sometimes even interactive as all of the sudden a message will pop up and as me if I’ve seen any Tim Horton’s restaurants along my route. Well duh, I’m in Canada – there’s a Tim Horton’s on every corner up here!

But seriously, the title of this article says it all: Digital Ad Spending Will Surpass TV Spending For The First Time In U.S. History. Without a doubt, ads are showing up in more and more places, whether it’s on our computers, phones, or tablets while we’re watching videos or perusing our social feeds, there’s a personalized ad lurking around every corner.

#5: Predictive Content Tools Will Drastically Improve

Grade: -1

I’m confused as to why this didn’t happen, but I don’t think there is any evidence to support the claim that predictive content tools drastically grew in 2016. Articles such as this one tout the uses of predictive analytics – similar to the way we have in the past – but in there’s more excitement about the potential rather than facts about what we currently have. It’s a shame, but maybe things will take off in the next couple years.

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Final Score: +3

We’ve done it again! By the skin of our teeth, our 2016 predictions were more right than wrong. So without further delay, here are our best guesses for five things that will happen in the marketing world during 2017:

Forecasting 2017 and Beyond

#1: Jobs for Data Scientists and/or Analytics Gurus Will Continue to Grow

This may already be a trend, in which case it’s a bit of a softball, but data-driven marketers are the best kind of marketers, so we’ll see the number of job postings for data scientists (or any similar titles) continue to grow. Full disclosure: by “any similar titles” we reserve the right to deem “geeky math nerd” as the equivalent of data scientists.

#2: Influencer Marketing Will Gain a Foothold

Until now, influencer marketing has been operating in the shadows of the digital world. You’ve probably heard tell of large sums of money being paid out to popular Instagrammers to simply put on a dress and take a picture, but that was during what we’ll call the Wild Wild West of influencer marketing. Now, with more influencer marketing platforms emerging and marketers realizing there needs to be more of a relationship between brands, influencers and customers, this relatively young tactic will begin to fully develop.

#3: More Small Businesses Will Embrace Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is huge – there’s no denying that. But the cost and complexity of setting up and managing a marketing automation has been a huge obstacle for small businesses; it’s hard to find the time to learn and setup automaton when the one thing you don’t have is time! As the platforms continue to get better and using them easier, small business owners – and the marketers who serve them – will realize marketing automation is the way of the future.

#4: The Use of Video Will Keep Climbing

Stats show that a third of all online activity is spent watching video and the average user is exposed to 32.3 videos in a month. Smart marketers are in tune with these numbers, and whether it’s video ads, video storytelling, or live streaming, they’ll find a way to incorporate more videos into their 2017 marketing strategy.

#5: A New and Significant Content Marketing Technology Will Emerge

This is going out on a limb a little bit, but I believe the advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning will soon impact the world of content marketing. As these amazing technologies are used to create real-world applications and devices, it won’t be long before somebody finds a way to use them to do better content marketing – hopefully in 2017!

See Ya Next Year!

Wish us the best of luck with our 2017 marketing predictions. If you believe in us, you might even get a jump on your competition by using these predictions to implement some new marketing processes. And don’t forget, check back here in 12 months time to see how we did and do it all over again!

About Cheryl Baldwin

Cheryl Baldwin, Director of Marketing Communications at WSI, oversees WSI’s Marketing Department. She’s an integral part of the WSI’s global brand presence and corporate identity.