What will Digital Marketing look like in 5 years - Predictions

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

In the ever-evolving industry of digital marketing, the need to have great foresight regarding what twists and turns lay ahead for your marketing journey is crucial in order to stay ahead of the game. This requires looking beyond the forecast for the next 6 months and setting your sights on what lays a few years ahead.

Marketing, whether you like it or not is a competitive industry, so having knowledge regarding the future of your industry can help give you a leg-up against competitors and show the world that you’re serious about what you do.

Our predictions are based upon a report carried out by The Economist Intelligence Unit, surveying 499 top Marketing Executives and interviewing Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) from some of the biggest companies around the globe, so that you can gain an understanding of what to aim for with any campaigns in the short future.

Before we go on to discuss what the future holds, we need to look at today’s marketing landscape and how it leans towards certain future pathways. These days, consumers go looking for interaction with no more than five brands. Technology is making it increasingly easy for consumers to shield themselves from commercial messages with software extensions such as AdBlocker. Being extremely relevant is the only way of keeping the consumer’s attention going.

Currently we’re operating within a level of marketing that has been prophesied over for decades, now that technology has caught up with this marketing ideology. The integration of technology into everyday lives has helped facilitate marketing in the increase of money made, efficiency and experience enhancement.

When modern everyday tech was first on the rise, marketers saw this as an opportunity to enhance the customer experience with brands being more involved throughout a customer’s journey. While the ability to continue enhancing the customer experience is not going away anytime soon, another opportunity has emerged simply with the addition of time.

Customer’s personal devices, were once considered a useful tool which marketers could also utilise in order to remain front-of-mind but now, with enough time invested, customer’s have imprinted themselves on their devices and filled them with enough unique data regarding their own personal preferences that marketers are starting to view customer mobiles, tablets, laptops as external brains.

This makes digital marketing much more valuable than what it was even 2 years ago. If marketers can tap into customer’s “external brains”, both the highly viewed space along with the accessible information, allows for more of a direct and personalised approach, this becomes a catalyst to brands actually being in the consumer’s minds.

As Kristin Lemkau, the CMO of JPMorgan Chase puts it, “You’re no longer marketing AT people. You’re influencing them in an environment where they’ve already had a chance to form a view.” Most people are well aware of when they’re being marketed to, most people have settled into a way of thinking, having the ability to reach and inform people, as opposed to projecting your brand in a general way towards them is the key.

With that in mind, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit the following CMOs expect their brands to be using the following channels;

  • Social Media – 59%

  • Web – 53%

  • Mobile Apps – 47%

  • Mobile Web – 46%

  • E-mail – 36%

  • Direct Mail – 17%

  • TV – 15%

  • Print – 14%

  • Radio – 7%

  • Other – 1%

The fact that social has risen so quickly in the ranks over just the past decade proves how fast-changing digital marketing can be, it also shows how digital is monopolising the world of marketing, pushing traditional methods to the bottom of the list.

With Digital Marketing leading the charge for future channel usage, lets take a look at some of the predicted trends and changes in the next few years of digital marketing;


1. Augmented Reality engagement

Back in 2016, with the launch of Oculus RiftPokemon Go, and the announcement of Snapchat Spectacles (among other tech developments), Augmented Reality (AR) had a large initial spike in interest and audience attention. Following on from then, AR has not had the meteoric rise some assumed that it would have, not quite being as popular or as widespread as originally hoped for, in order for it to stake its claim as a viable medium for content marketing. However, after such successful campaigns the potential of AR is no longer in question, rather when will it be more accessible to marketers and brands, as they will be amongst the first to leverage this new medium for their own purposes, whether that’s interactive advertising or new experiences for in-person customers.

2. Live video takeover

Live video has been a success straight out the gate due to its functionality through multiple social media platforms, however participation from brands seems to be the biggest thing holding it back from being a dominant form of web content. Live videos, when available, attract a lot of user attention, everyday people seems to know this and have taken advantage in order to boost their personal brand, yet not enough brands have jumped on the trend. Part of this is due to the amount of planning necessary for a “successful” feed.

Time will be the biggest factor in seeing the tides turn on live video marketing. In the years that follow, once agencies have planned thoroughly and execute a few successful live videos, marketers will feel greater confidence towards regular usage of live video campaigns. This will see live video in higher demand and in more places—including search engine results.

3. SEO's pivot and transformation

Most SEO at this point is centred around website optimisation, so that search engine results pages (SERPs), being more or less giant lists of web pages, provide your page the most visibility possible. However, we’re already starting seeing SERPs have begun to provide alternate results and less exposure for websites in general already.

With the integration of digital assistants in our daily lives such as Siri, Alexa, Google Home and so on, the need for regular search engines shall remain yet their traditional function is somewhat diminishing. More than 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020.

As these trends develop, users will still rely on search, but they’ll use it in entirely new ways—and the importance of website-specific optimisation will begin to decline in favour of things like app SEO and optimisation for rich answers. SEO isn’t about picking one strategy and sticking with it forever. If you try to do this, you will almost certainly fail. Instead, you need to transform and adapt your strategy to accommodate the new technologies and trends that dictate user search behaviours. SEO has always favoured the most adaptable, and will continue to do so indefinitely.

4. Content length extremes

With current content length varying in range and all proving to be popular in their own right. It is predicted that content in the not too distant future is going to lean heavily into the extremes of each format.

This means short content, which is best known for spreading at a faster rate, will now be micro content. Offering bite-sized chunks of information that require little time and energy from its readers.

On the other end with long content, being best known for attracting more links, there will be greatly expanded essay type articles to give the reader a most thorough account.

Whether it be in text or video form, these strongly polarising approaches to content marketing will force most content marketers to rethink their direction, optimising for one style over the other, yet I would advise dabbling in both in a way that your brand isn’t tripping over itself, offering two very different takes on content, so that you can reach a wider audience.5. Personal device interactions

Voice search has exploded in popularity over the last few years due to the perfecting of related audio algorithms. This has lead to a surge in people interacting with their devices in more relaxed and informal ways; we’re having conversations with our own digital assistants instead of barking orders, as mentioned earlier in the reshaping of SEO, these conversations with our devices are greatly reducing the need for screen and type-based interactions.

This new approach towards our devices creates an opportunity for new types of content to emerge that isn’t screen dependant; opting for more of a low-key, conversational tone of interactive content.

6. An influx of native advertising

Now, more than ever people are being bombarded with advertisements at every waking moment of their lives. Most people have more than one screen within their vicinity across the day, this level of marketing is overwhelming and it has taught everyday people to tune out the “noise” that interferes with their regular activities. That’s why native advertising, which is somewhat a hybrid of both traditional advertising and content marketing, is likely to constitute the majority of ad revenue online in the next few years.

Native Advertising, when done well can bypass the defence systems (both mental walls and AdBlockers) people have put up in order to not feed in to their advertisement fatigue any further. This allows for customers to be more receptive to content that does breach their defences, as they will consume it as everyday content and formulate their own thoughts towards a brand or product. In short, the increase in native advertising will be in response to how people are becoming more proactive in avoiding standard advertisements in their day-to-day use of devices.7. Higher social value

Influencer marketing has seen to yield strong results at this point and will continue to, however with the increase in average people becoming strongly aware of the corporations behind influencers, the corporate distrust grows, all the while accessibility to the internet widens.

This will greatly heighten the value of the influencer in question and the authorship that comes with them. With the pay-off being greater and the stakes being higher, it’s going to become of greater importance to know—personally—who you’re getting your content from. Individual personalities are going to make or break brands, and the value of a post can increase exponentially based on who writes or shares it.


These are just a handful of predictions that have been forecast for the next few years of marketing. Though some of these predictions are speculative, most of these are simply played out looks at what current early stage trends will look like when they develop and progress down the line. At the end of the day, the objective with your marketing strategy is to continue pressing in to what works.

Still, it pays to think ahead; the most successful content marketers tend to be the ones who beat their competitors to market, so there’s definitely a value in early adoption.

Gamification marketing gives agencies the ability to tap into a lot of the aforementioned future trends in digital marketing without sticking their neck too far out. A gamification campaign's competition mechanics create a safe environment for agencies to dabble in Augmented Reality, Micro content, Native Advertising and Live video with Influencers before truly transitioning into early adoption of these trends.

If you're hoping to be first across the line with your future marketing but are unsure of which trends will be of benefit to your brand, a gamification campaign could be the stepping stone you require in order to take that next step in your marketing success.

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