A Second Look At Marketing’s Crystal Ball
At the start of 2016, marketers predicted a rise in content marketing, online video, and more, writes SocialCentiv's Bernard Perrine. From the vantage point of Q2, which of these predictions appear to be coming true?
This is a contributed piece by Bernard Perrine, co-founder and CEO of intent-based Twitter marketing firm SocialCentiv
It’s common for people to make predictions about business and marketing trends in December and January. In fact, it’s so common that it’s almost become a cliché. But from the vantage point of the second quarter of 2016, it’s interesting to take a look back at the progress so far: Which predictions are (thus far) holding true, which have already failed to materialize, and which are just too soon to tell?
To no one’s surprise, one of the big predictions for marketing in 2016 was the growing importance of content marketing, especially with concerns around ad blocking.
Actually “growing” is a bit of a misnomer, because the truth is that content has always been of the utmost importance. Engineers who create and tweak search engine software are always working to deliver accurate, reliable and fresh content to users. But that’s not the reason content is important. It’s the users who are driving demand, just as users — aka “people” — always have. People have always wanted facts and stories, and that’s the reason for the maxim “content is king.”
Of course, people want that information and those stories to be good. The growing sophistication of search engine technology is marching toward the goal of being able to mimic the human ability to distinguish good communication from bad. It wasn’t that long ago when a web page with nothing but a giant block of keywords could wind up on a person’s first page of search results. Then, after that stopped being effective, some marketers began putting up dozens of landing pages (or more) of exactly the same copy, but each with a different URL. Now that tactic no longer works.
So, yes, content will always rule the roost — provided that it’s good content. This has been true so far in 2016, and will likely continue to hold true for a long time.
Some “seers” believe that 2016 will be the year when online video finally explodes. (Let’s separate this from “content marketing,” since search engine technology is not yet able to pull keywords from the footage itself, only from the copy surrounding it.)
The first three months have not been distinctly promising. While YouTube is the No. 1 search engine, and Millennials continue to devour YouTube videos at a rate dramatically higher than their forebears, there isn’t strong evidence of consumption as being any higher now than in past years. This is even more the case when it comes to marketing.
One key factor that could hold online video back in terms of success as a marketing medium is, paradoxically, ease of access. Some people believe that as it becomes easier and cheaper for small businesses to produce video content, and this will lead to online video becoming more popular.
But look at the path followed by TV video: Once, only large corporations could afford to produce and air television commercials. Then the technology become more affordable and widespread, allowing local affiliates to offer video advertising packages to the diner down the street. The result? Poorly made, cheap-looking commercials with stilted dialogue airing midweek at 3 a.m.
Of course, the occasional online commercial or other video marketing effort will go viral, but overall, 2016 looks unlikely to a breakout year for the technology — at least, not more than previous years.
Real-time marketing isn’t getting its start in 2016, but the growth is certainly there.
Real-time marketing can be about delivering messages at a location — but it can also take advantage of the technologies behind social media marketing and search engines, enabling marketers to filter vast amounts of information in the form of posts and tweets, find relevant keywords, and then reply back to the original poster in a matter of just minutes.
These conversations most often take the form of customer service. For example, experiment with calling a complaint phone line and putting the same complaint to the same company on Twitter and see which avenue gets you the results you want first. The majority of the time today, it’s going to be Twitter that is most responsive.
It’s still too early to tell, but real-time responses are looking likely to get marketers the results they want.