15 Dec 2015

What will (Not) be Big in Marketing in 2016?

I love the New Year. I often stand on the porch and watch the fireworks wishing and hoping everyone a better year than the last one, but for me, the New Year starts way before Jan 1st.

Around about October every year I sit and watch out for the ‘what will be the next big trend in marketing for 20XX?’ posts that I know will come. Every time I log on to my digital media I dare the computer to bring up one on my latest news feed, and in general, I’m never disappointed. I love to read them as they are the greatest work of fiction for the year and their content never ceases to amaze me … in a bad way. I am a marketer – that’s what I do. I market stuff. Stuff for other people. And I can categorically say that every company I work with has a completely different campaign from the next. Heck! Even the same company can have a completely different campaign from their last one, so I know there is no ‘one size fit’s all’ in any marketing portfolio. If it was so easy – you wouldn’t need marketers!

So why so cynical?

Digital marketing has changed the goal posts in marketing. Some of the rules of the game are the same, but mostly online marketing has removed the rules of traditional marketing and busted the playing field wide open. It’s like a floodgate was opened on every aspect of the internet and all the prime players, mediocre managers and marketing wannabes from all over the world rushed in and started churning out content. It’s like all the hub-bub of the stock exchange only the currency is content and the action more frenzied. Consequently, content is churned out like an ever gushing leak in boat, and in the race for speed, quality is often completely compromised.

When I see the articles start to appear I can often see a pattern. Sometimes it feels like it’s the same article regurgitated through the mill, or was penned by the same person under thirteen different pseudonyms. The problem I see is that if you’re going to write content for the internet, from content on the internet it’s going to create a sea of mediocrity – or worse – be like a photocopy, of a photocopy, of a photocopy where the integrity of the content is so disfigured it turns the image of a man into a walrus that claims to ‘Beat the man’ instead of ‘Meet the fans’. If content is King, we have to make sure that it’s not written by paupers.

We are all drowning in a sea of information. We have forgotten in the path of ‘progress’ how to use things like other sources, or reference materials for finding out facts, and fact checking seems to have died a death for many writers – in the modern era of content the fact that an article appears on the internet seems to be all the credibility most people need. It’s like we’re all being brainwashed into believing the only true source of light and knowledge is something random you found on Google.

Take for instance one article I found this year. It was from a very highly regarded source and it was entitled, ‘The top 7 online marketing trends that will dominate 2016’ (this title got me very excited – they are usually the most … (un)creative). So what were these seven, ground breaking, biblical proportioned trends that will change the very fibre of my working day at 1 Jan 2016, 00.01hrs?

The first three trends were:

  1. Video ads will start dominating.
  2. App indexing will lead to an explosion of apps.
  3. Mobile will completely dominate desktop.

Seriously? These three alone had me shooting up to the top of the page to check when this article was written, as surely, all three of these were the ‘top trends dominating 2015… 2014 …’ and so on they were so well known. There was a little more information on these three trends, but nothing that really made them ultimately more powerful than they are now. This was no value add.

Numbers 5 & 6 were hardly revelations either with:

  • Virtual reality will emerge.
  • Wearable technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) will pave new ground.

With the launch of the Apple watch and the Oculus Rift in Q1 2016 this can’t really be considered insider knowledge or something that any marketer worth their weight in craft beer wouldn’t already know. My question is – how well can they dominate 2016 in marketing when so few people have them? If you choose to prioritize this route – you go girl! But I’m not giving up on the 87% of the adult population that own a smart phone.

The last one was one that really evoked emotion for me:

7. Advertising will become more expensive.

The emotion it evoked? I threw my hands up in the air in despair. As the downturn bites meaning more creative, profound marketing devices need to be employed and inflation still rising, it’s hard to see how advertising will get cheaper in any given year, this one or not.

I really don’t mean to be disingenuous about this article, I know that author has written more pertinent articles I have learnt much from, but the way that content is created en-masse means that this credible source will be the basis of an unknown number of articles on the same theme. 144,912 people have viewed this content, it ranks high in the search engine of all search engines (Google), and some of those 144k+ will read no others, yet write an article on the same subject. They have deadlines to fill and editors to appease, they need something now. These points will come up several times and gain traction as … they have come up several times on the internet. We are creating a quality vacuum that we need to take the time to avoid.

Don’t believe me?

Then just copy and paste this into the search bar of Google:

  1. Video ads will start dominating.
  2. App indexing will lead to an explosion of apps.
  3. Mobile will completely dominate desktop.

These are the results:

Arc-Reactions-Blog-(AR)-what-will-not-be-big-in-marketing-in-2016-2

The whole of the front page was the same article in different guises, some of them not at all disguised, which is ten entries that no one usually goes any further. In fact, the top 23 answers were this article in one form or another. That’s the first two and half pages. And that doesn’t cover the articles where the points were taken and rewritten into a ‘new’ article.

How do we avoid it? Point four in the article.

Point four states:

  1. Digital assistants will lead to a new kind of optimization.

Now that is new. The information around it is credible and really interesting too. This is what will educate people on marketing and how to make the most of theirs. It would have been great to have the focus on the one trend for a whole article, than to throw in six other points that weren’t news at all. Knowing that the material we produce may lead to further content should drive all copywriters and marketers to create content that is rises way above the mediocre.

Marketing should be for the audience. Content should be for the purpose of adding value to the reader. In an ideal world it would all be on a level playing field, plagiarism would not be an issue, cost would not be a driving factor and the tooth fairy would rule the world, but we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in one where we have so many obstacles need to be overcome with any given marketing campaign that you’d need a mechanical digger with a bucket the size of Fiji to clear them all out of the way before deadline. But it has to be done for the sake of good, quality content.

When I read these types of post I wonder at what point will we all fall out of love with the internet. When will we realise that Bill Gates will not pay you $245 for forwarding that email, You can’t type your PIN in backwards at an ATM and have the police come careening round the corner to save you from a felon and Al Gore did not invent the internet?

Until we do, I guess I’ll just have to keep trying to produce content that comes out of my insane inspired, marketing mind – rather than the first page of Google.