It’s that time of year. The time when columnists decide they should predict the future. They write a list of things that will happen in the next year with very little evidence or rationale. In the title of the column they use phrases like “bold predictions” or “trends to watch” in order to hedge their bet. The articles are great for columnists because they don’t need to expand very much on any one topic. All they need is a trace amount of knowledge on each subject.
Why should I be any different than all of those other columnists who use their December columns to wax poetic on predictions that may or may not come true? Besides, it’s a tried and true technique that’s evident by the fact that you are reading this right now. So let’s do it!
Bold Prediction #1: More of the same.
Are we in an industry that is reaching maturity? The year of mobile has come and gone. The year of ad blocking is behind us. We’ve now entered into the duopoly era. According to eMarketer, Facebook and Google command over 77% of all digital advertising dollars. This will continue into the foreseeable future.
I was recently researching mobile app usage while developing an advertising strategy for one of my clients. The target audience is men and women between the ages of 25 and 34. According to comScore, a company that measures consumer behavior on internet connected devices, six of the top eight mobile apps used by this audience are owned by either Facebook or Google. Furthermore, YouTube (owned by Google) and Facebook are the top two apps for all smartphone users under the age of 55.
Both companies continue to have impressive growth as many other companies in the digital marketing industry are flat or seeing declines. There’s no reason to believe this will change any time soon.
Bold Prediction #2: The rise of Amazon in the advertising industry.
Amazon is very well known as the largest ecommerce company in the US. They are also a major player in streaming media with Amazon Prime Video and cloud computing, storage and networking with Amazon Web Services (AWS). They are lesser known for Amazon Advertising Platform, their proprietary demand-side platform (DSP). This DSP can be used to place ads programmatically across the web, mobile, and video using purchase behavior data only available to Amazon.
Thanks to the Amazon Advertising Platform and the paid search placements that are sold on amazon.com, the company is expected to increase their total ad sales 48% in 2017 to $1.65 billion according to a recent report by eMarketer.
Bold Prediction #3: Better online to offline attribution.
Thanks to the use of smartphones, there are companies that are now able to track where people are physically in the world using information from cellular, Wi-Fi, Global Positioning System (GPS) networks, and Bluetooth. This allows marketers to track whether a user visits a physical store location after engaging with an online advertisement.
Our agency is currently tracking store visits using Google Adwords for a client that has over 1,100 retail locations. After a user clicks on one of our paid search ads, they are tracked for thirty days to determine whether they visited a store. This online to offline attribution allows us to determine the true return on investment (ROI) from advertising. It also has helped us understand how to maximize ROI for our client, shifting dollars to keywords and ads that are most likely to result in a visit to the store.
Google’s tracking system is so sophisticated it can even track someone who performed the search on their computer or tablet. There are over one million opt-in subscribers that help them double check the system and continue to make improvements to the accuracy over time.
Google is not the only company that is able to track online to offline behavior. Facebook is rolling out a similar product that will allow marketers to track the social networks’ users in the physical world after they are exposed to an advertisement.
In 2018 and beyond, more companies will roll out similar tracking systems. And Google is taking it one step farther. Back in May the company announced they will track how much money people spend in merchants’ bricks-and-mortar stores after interacting with an ad. Google has access to roughly 70% of U.S. credit and debit card transactions through partnerships with companies that track that data.
While I’m not normally a fan of predicting the future, these three predictions are almost certain to come true. Especially considering all of them are already happening. Oops, I guess I cheated.