While most of what will happen in the future may be a surprise, I believe that there are a lot of things that will happen in the media and marketing industry in the near future that aren’t that hard to predict — certain things so likely to occur, they are almost inevitable. In fact, you could view them as near certainties.
Why try to predict the future when you’re almost certain to be wrong on many points? If you are trying to prepare for — or exploit — how key trends will evolve, you need to have a point of view on the future, so I never mind sticking my neck out on predictions. In that vein, I will offer up four near certainties to occur over the next five years in our industry. Here they are:
E-commerce will grow to 15% of all retail sales in the U.S. E-commerce today represents just over 6% of all retail sales, up from just over 2% 10 years earlier. I believe that the percentage of all retail that goes through e-commerce will accelerate significantly over the next five years, almost tripling. Why? Every retailer now has e-commerce channels. Smartphones are now at 70% penetration in the US and are the new retail devices. And online groceries will be what tips the scale.
Marketing in pure digital channels and devices will continue to grow at double-digit rates. I don’t know how much longer we will have the banner. I don’t know what the future will be for ‘native’ advertising. I don’t know how important ‘likes’ or tweets or ‘pins’ will be. But I do know that more people will use more digital devices to consume more digital content every year between now and 2019, which will mean that marketing and advertising on pure digital channels will continue to grow at a very fast pace.
Advertising effectiveness in the future will be judged by causation, not correlation. In a Big Data world, it is possible to find correlations between virtually everything. As we recently learned in the press, the number of films that Nicholas Cage appears in correlates with the consumption of cheese in America, and the divorce rate in the state of Maine closely correlates with the consumption of margarine in the US. But Big Data can also support — at tremendous scale — tested and proven methods of experimental design and causation, such as A/B testing, test and control, etc. We’ll have to endure a few years of crazy correlation-driven confusion, but by 2019, everyone will have to raise the bar and talk true, transparent causation.
Multichannel linear TV will still dominate media in advertising and consumer fees. Sight, sound and motion video content produced by studios and distributed by multichannel operators will still be number one in the U.S. for both ad spend and consumer subscription fees. People love TV. They will watch more and more video on more and more devices, but the networks and operators have shown us — and the US Supreme Court has helped protect — their ability to manage it in a multichannel “walled garden” for some time into the future. TV will still be king in 2019.
What do you think will happen in 2019?
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