Actually, that isn’t the question, but it got your attention.  The question is, “What is the future of digital marketing?” This is going to be a two-part blog.  Today’s blog, the first, will define the three primary areas of greatest impact to digital marketing in the near future.  The second part will be a deeper dive into the impact of those three primary areas.

There is so much information about the future of digital marketing that it can be a bit daunting to read through and filter.  I read through several articles and have a sampling of some that are spot on as to where our industry is headed.  You will find short summaries and a link for each of those articles at the end of this piece.

After reading the articles and a few others that mentioned items of interest as well (i.e., expected increase in digital marketing spending by most companies, movement of 1:1 ratio of staff to contractor digital employees, future of most digital staff also having a technology background), and considering another couple I have heard from conversations with others in the industry, such as it is difficult to secure talent (competition with the big tech firms) and concerns of companies moving digital marketing in-house, the next decade is going to be very exciting from an information and technological standpoint and challenging for securing resources.  I understand that this is a two-way street.  Feedback and questions are always welcome.

First, Mobile and Mobile and Mobile.  Over 75% of digital media is already received over a mobile device.  And I state “mobile device” instead of “cellphone” since our “cellphones” ceased being just that some time ago. They are now “our portable OMG entire personal digital existence in one easy to carry device!”  This trend will not slow down, but rather speed up to the point of a single digital device that is portable, expandable and with an extreme multi-functional use across all digital media and platforms.  It will also communicate with multiple IoT devices in our life.  This could be everything from what is in the fridge to shows watched and music listened to or even product usage.  It includes your autos and will eventually include clothing.  All future direction in digital marketing will move to primarily mobile devices, and the delivery technology developed by digital marketing will need to be responsive and must deliver the same experience to the end user no matter the mobile device.

Second, Consolidated Consumer Data.  I have read several items on “big data”, “integrated data” and “customer ID” consolidated data from all marketing streams.  Call it whatever you like, companies will need assistance with methods for tracking, consolidating and analyzing customer data.  This is going to continue to be an area with incredible opportunity for the development of solutions and tools with a focus on it never becoming invasive digital marketing.  The entire focus should be on how to personalize digital marketing messaging to the individual without being intrusive and with the marketing being on point for that consumer.  I am a bit of a data geek, so I find this extremely enticing and exciting as to long-term potential.

Last, but certainly not least, is The Importance of Social Media.  I have found social media the most interesting social experiment in all of technology.  Never have individuals had so much power at their fingertips.  They have the power to point out injustice, voice their personal opinions, share their likes and dislikes, and create super-stars.  Now the question is, “How do you utilize this new type of super-star in digital marketing?”

Here is a Wikipedia link that has a continuous update of the all-time top YouTube videos. Superstars have been created thanks to YouTube platform.  Look at the number of views for the top 30, all over 1 billion views.  The most views ever for the Super Bowl occurred in February 2016 with 167 million.  Facebook, per information as of September 2016, has 1.71 billion monthly active users, making it the leading social network.  That is almost 23% of the world’s population.

Overall, as it applies to social media, pulling in active participation from users and creating a “relationship” with them for a company, brand or product will be key to driving future business success.  The social media participants on the consumer side must be considered as an “active” part of the digital marketing ecosystem and you must actively bring them into the marketing process.

There you have it in a nutshell, my three top items impacting the future of digital marketing: Mobile, Consolidated Consumer Data, and Social Media.

The future of the digital marketing industry is very bright and as dynamic as ever.  Although I have jokingly stated that I didn’t know why I was drawn to this business with all its ups and downs and hair-pin economic turns, I know exactly why I enjoy this business.  Where else do you have the potential to work with ANY business in ANY industry?  Where else do you get to incorporate the latest cutting edge media technology into an entire ecosystem of a business?  Where else do you get to mix altogether the worlds of creativity, strategy and business?  There is simply no other business like our business, and I love it.

Stay tuned for part two!

Excellent Topical Articles

CEO and co-founder of Smart Insights, Dave Chaffey, posted an article titled “Marketing Trends for 2016 – Will we be in a post-digital era?”

The next article I thought was spot-on was written by Adam Fridman, founder of AdvisorTV, a Chicago-based advice and mentorship community for entrepreneurs, and Mabbly, a digital marketing agency.

Another interesting article came from journalist, author and lecturer, Azadeh Williams, “Six Ways to Prepare for the Future of Digital Marketing.” Ms. Williams speaks to Ryan Treichler, SAS Customer Intelligence Director of Product Management, about the definition of intelligent digital marketing in today’s ever changing and fast-paced technological environment.

Here is an interesting article from by Daniel Newman.  Daniel is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group.