Below are 10 trends drawn from our unique vantage point at CEB. I’m betting 4 or 5 of them will be ones you hadn’t heard before.
Proverbial digital dog will catch car: Digital marketing teams from companies in mainstream categories from ice cream to motor oil to banking are getting big increases in their 2013 resources. We’re talking double the budget and double the headcount. The digital dog has caught the car! Those same digital dogs must now show the CMO (and CFO) that they’re spending those 2013 dollars wisely. File this under: careful what you wish for.
Digital dog will discover that it in fact caught a buffalo, not a car: Based on recent studies we’ve seen using the newly available analytic tools to validate digital campaign effectiveness, digital marketers (and those who just boosted their budgets) will realize there’s an enormous amount of “leakage” in digital executions. Digital, in fact, doesn’t deliver the reach and coverage with that low waste that it promises. To make matters worse, when you look at the percentage of paid digital impressions that are actually viewable, the situation is even more bleak. This isn’t a car we just caught. It’s a buffalo. You can still get from point A to point B, but it’s a different kind of ride.
Countless, limp-branded social efforts will be abandoned, countless more will be launched: Many brands and products don’t need a Facebook page, YouTube channel or LinkedIn group. Here’s an idea for a Pinterest board—brand social executions that have become lifeless zombies.
Marketing silo walls will come tumblin’ down (in favor of new walls): When it comes to digital integration, many large enterprise marketing leaders will realize they can’t process their way out of a structure problem. So, they’ll make changes to their organizational structure. By blowing up old silos (TV, events, direct, PR) and replacing them with new structures (paid, earned, owned), they will mix digital and non-digital tactics into people-based roles on how the tactics behave (e.g., if it’s bought in a marketplace, like TV or display), not on what category they fit into (e.g., events or digital).
Marketing and IT will jointly discover they are missing the boat because they were bickering in customs: IT is good at process, reliability and security. Marketing is good at following consumers, moving quickly and catching attention. Neither is good at looking down the road and creating a marketing technology roadmap from a consumer point-of-view. Having discovered this, some organizations will correct it (by hiring a marketing technologist or somehow creating the underlying capability). But, most will continue bickering.
Content marketing will experience a sophomore year slump: Content marketing sure has been the rage, hasn’t it? In the first wave, we saw some marketing teams with the energy, savvy, resources and mandate to really do content marketing well. The wave of 2013 adopters will mostly include the content marketing “band-wagon-ers,” who lack at least one of those four characteristics. The result? The shine will come off of content marketing in some instances. Not for lacking in merit, but because there will be execution challenges (see Trend 3).
Human inertia will pour cold water on 80% of consumer trends you read on other trend lists: I love Mary Meeker’s annual Internet trends report, don’t you? In this year’s report, she presents a series of “asset-light” consumer trends that will shape commerce. The problem is many of these trends rely on consumers changing long-engrained routines. While Ms. Meeker has the good sense not to put these on a timeline, most other trend lists don’t. For that reason, we’ll look up next December and realize 2013 wasn’t the Year of Direct Delivery (unless you’re a hipster living in New York or San Francisco) or the Year of Room-sharing (I love AirBnB, but, come on, most consumers who travel are not going to sleep on a stranger’s couch). Human inertia simply prevents most of these trends from going mainstream anytime soon.
Simple experiences win. It’s a really noisy environment out there and consumers feel like they are leading really complicated lives. Most of the winning brands of 2013 will have simplified customers’ lives, and will have done so in transparent, simple ways. If this feels right in your gut, read more about it in HBR or Forbes. Then, recast your engagement-focused marketing to treat consumer attention as a precious object to be handled with great care and attention.
Marketing leaders will realize marketer “agility” is part table stakes, part harmful! CEB did exhaustive research on winning marketing qualities for 2013 and found that the most predictive trait of high performing marketers is grit—the ability to doggedly pursue higher-order goals in the face of distractions and hardship. However, seventy-eight percent of marketing leaders still believe that their marketer teams need instead to be fast-moving, agile and adaptive.
Trend lists numbering “10” will fall out of fashion. I don’t think I need to explain.