It’s late December, so you know what that means: Predictions!
But we’re going to do them a little differently this year. Instead of looking forward and predicting the future, we’re going to look back and see how well we predicted the future last year. (OK, we’re also going to do 2018 predictions, but later.)
December 2, 2016 marked the 319th anniversary of St. Paul’s Cathedral being consecrated in London. The Labor Department announced that U.S. employment had reached a nine-year low. Britney Spears turned 35. And EditorEye CEO Nick Gregg outlined the hottest topics for marketers in 2017.
Prediction 1: Chatbots, voice assistants and AI take over your phone and home
A year ago, Futuresource projected that 6.3 million voice assistants would be shipped by the end of 2016. The consulting firm follows the market closely and reported that 4.2 million smart speakers were shipped in 2017… in the second quarter alone. Amazon leads the pack, with more than 90% of the market share. According to Adobe, the Echo was also the fifth-hottest gift this holiday season.
Brands have embraced artificial intelligence with equal fervor, from Sephora’s upselling chatbot to Delta’s biometric boarding passes.
Prediction 2: The rise of the marketing cloud including automation and predictive analytics
Noting the increasing investment in data and analytics tools year-over-year, Nick predicted that more marketers would consolidate their data in 2017. Indeed, cloud companies have made that a priority with their new offerings.
Oracle expanded its mobile cloud portfolio with chatbot technology, while Adobe launched its Advertising Cloud to manage marketing across channels. More significantly, Google and Salesforce announced a partnership last month, integrating their respective CRM and analytics platforms.
Prediction 3: Virtual reality and AR enhances brand experiences
A few years back, virtual reality was one of the industry’s hottest buzzwords. While the technology hasn’t quite “disrupted mobile,” it’s certainly generating plenty of revenue. VR spending more than doubled from 2016 to 2017, with the International Data Corporation (IDC) projecting that number to swell to $162 billion by 2020.
Brands are already adjusting their VR strategies, moving away from the blockbuster installations to more complementary experiences. At least, that’s the case with Marriott’s virtual tourism tool and the unexpectedly evergreen “Art of Patrón.”
Prediction 4: Live streaming explodes on social
Live streaming seemed to be fizzling out. Meerkat is dead and Periscope is floundering. But Facebook Live is killing it, making up 20% of the platform’s video content. Which is a lot: Facebook users watch 32 billion videos per day, which has quadrupled since 2015.
It’s unlikely that will change anytime soon, given the wealth of options live video offers marketers. Brands like Starbucks and Airbnb have streamed events, J. Crew offers promos to the engaged watchers, and Target has created a full-blown music video.If you’re still on the fence about live video, just know that 46,000 people have watched Dunkin’ Donuts make a wedding cake out of donuts.
Prediction 5 : Ad blockers threaten the end of the online advertising industry
Ad blocking has steadily risen for years, surging 30% in 2016. Interestingly, eMarketer adjusted its projection for the number of ad blocking users a few weeks later, reducing the number from 86 to 75 million.
Estimated to cost global publishers $27 billion by 2020, ad blocking certainly threatens digital marketers. But it doesn’t equal ending our industry, especially as the rates have “stabilized,” according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). “A key reason is publishers denying access to content to ad blockers, which has created a ‘lightbulb’ moment for people who realize they cannot access free content without seeing the advertising that funds it,” said IAB UK CEO Jon Mew.
How’d we do overall?
Four out of five is pretty good! Especially since the one we got wrong is the one we kind of wanted to get wrong anyway.