As a kid, I always wanted to play cards with a deck that included the Joker. We used it as our wildcard, meaning that we could determine it to be whatever card you wanted it to be. Some might say that the Joker leveled the playing field, giving lesser players a chance at the game.
Marketing predictions in 2015 are not too difficult to assess if you’re paying attention to the game. A handful of trends will emerge as dominant tactics, with most savvy marketers embracing them and exploiting their opportunities. And, a wildcard (or two), is in the deck as well.
Here’s how I see things shaping up in this wild and wonderful industry that we call marketing.
- Social media dominates. This is an Ace. A few short years ago, nobody really knew where social media would find its place, if anywhere. It turns out that social media is now on the main stage as a legitimate communications medium. Engagement, targeting, reach. Bet on it.
- Creative still reigns. Another Ace. Humans are drawn to clever and entertaining material. That’s not going to change anytime soon. Even though marketers are drawn to big data, ROI, and some sort of guaranteed success, everybody buys great creative: the consumer, the CMO, and your mother. Aside from staying on strategy, creative needs to concentrate on evolving with the communication channels and not try to make old habits fit new mediums. Go all in.
- Paid search will cost you more. It’s a simple supply and demand issue. We’re using search engines as easy as we are breathing air. Paid ads continue to get clicked at a decent rate. And as more marketers begin to understand how consumers are operating, the demand will continue to climb. PPC is the Queen of Diamonds.
- Marketing finally overtakes advertising. Advertising as a concept is a one-way conversation. Nothing about consumer behavior in 2015 involves hearing a sponsored message and heading out to buy. Marketing, on the other hand, is about developing programs that address consumer needs and wants, engaging with them, and eventually converting them into warm leads. Ace up your sleeve (for those who finally get it).
- Over the top will change television forever. Networks selling their lineup on a subscriptions basis, instead as part of a cable package is only beginning. HBO’s new offering will pick up steam in 2015 as the most popular nets develop distribution, and second tier networks look for partnerships. Bottom line is that cable may be affected more severely early on, but this model will change television as much as cable did some 25 years ago. Let it ride.
- Digital display is on full display. Digital display results speak for them selves in terms of engagement and conversions. However, the cost-per-thousand (CPM) model that we use to buy it is in need of an overhaul. The fraudulent impressions that we are paying for are said to be rising close to $50 billion in 2015. That’s enough to get the attention of more than the CMO. When the CEO catches wind we might even see congress stick their nose in. There’s an opportunity here for some new technology to right the ship. It's about to hit the fan. Don’t blink.
- The wildcard is programmatic marketing. It is a tremendously efficient activity when something happens based on consumer actions and you didn’t have to make it happen. You just set up the scenarios and let the technology communicate however you determined you wanted it to. Should be a royal flush for the marketing world. The dilemma is that we are living in this marketing engagement world that is based on social media posts, reviews, and live engagement, while programmatic marketing is based on big data, simple algorithms, and trends. The latter is impersonal and unemotional, despite our best efforts. Programmatic marketing is working its way toward overcoming that deficiency, but isn’t any more effective than other digital media approaches just yet. If it is successful in closing that gap, we have a whole new world ahead of us that looks bright but is hard to predict with clarity. You’d be a joker to bet it all in 2015.