James Gross is the co-founder of Percolate, a content publishing platform for brands.
The intersection of technology and marketing is in a constant state of flux, changing at the hands of both short- and long-term trends. As someone who runs a business in the space, I try to take some time at the end of each year to assess the landscape and understand how it will affect our business, as well as the broader worlds of marketing and technology.
Here are my thoughts on the seven trends to watch in 2014.
You won’t create content without promoting it.
The idea of creating content for your “followers” will go away as the potential for the audience you would like to reach with your content becomes realized. With Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest all rolling out smart ad products, the promise of being able to reach the exact audience you want to is here. But, as with most things, it won’t come for free. If you want the reach, you’ve got to pay for it. This is always what advertising has been about. Now the potential is just bigger and better.
You have to take a mobile-first approach to marketing.
Android, at well over 1 billion activations, will continue to grow in scale and proliferation across the enterprise and the rest of the world. Every piece of content needs to be created first by asking the question, how will that look on a mobile device and, more specifically, an Android?
Social platforms will focus on the rest of the world and continue to draft off mobile penetration.
The big push by the social platforms will be in wiring and getting downloads for the 60 percent of the world that is still not on the Internet. Mobile penetration has disrupted the natural monopoly that Facebook and Twitter have had in social (see: WhatsApp, SnapChat, Instagram, etc.), but mobile has also created a big enough opportunity for social that it doesn’t matter. The overall pie has grown, and 2014 will be looked at as building year as Twitter and others will march toward 1 billion users and Facebook will march toward 2 billion.
Brands will start to adopt technology that moves beyond simple problems.
The trend is already out there that marketers are becoming the largest purchasers of technology. What hasn’t been seen yet is marketers becoming more sophisticated with the technology they are buying. Most marketing automation and CRM software to date is for marketers looking to fill blank boxes, route customer service inquiries, and build dashboards for reporting. While this was important, it isn’t enough in a world where your customers and your marketing strategy is mobile-first and real-time.
Design finally matters for enterprise software.
For the most part, the largest enterprise software giants in the world have largely been able to ignore user experiences in mobile. As they have cozied up to procurement and other parts of the organizations that have taken a top-down, check-the-box approach to software installation to date they have been able to tell the individual users to kick rocks when it comes to having a user experience in mobile. Those days are coming to an end, fast. If your enterprise technology solutions don’t have native Andriod and iOS end-to-end experiences, it is time to get the RFPs out. Young, fast-growing tech companies that are built for the future and out to disrupt an irrelevant user experience.
Web banners will be down for the first time ever, and they won’t come back.
We are starting to see this with some of the Google Adsense data. In a social and mobile world, the ad is your content and your content is your ad. Banners are still important but aren’t growing like the rest of Internet advertising (search + social + mobile).
China is the most important country to watch as it relates to social and mobile.
To find patterns in studying what might happen next, it is important to be pulling from the largest data set you can find. China offers this with the scale and a culture that is largely mobile-first with its adoption of technology. Fast-growing companies like Xiaomi are perfect examples of what to watch, and also in 2014, we will most likely see Chinese tech companies acquire a few U.S. tech companies.
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