"Greetings, my friends. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives..." - The Amazing Criswell
Now is the time to gaze into the crystal ball, consult the tarot cards, read the tea leaves, and generally attempt to guess at what is to come in the realm of Internet marketing. We've seen amazing changes in the world of technology and marketing in the past few years, and from all indications, this rush is only going to accelerate.
Even though the future may be cloudy, it's good to take time every now and then to try to predict what the future may hold. So, here are a few views on what Internet marketing will look like a few years down the road.
More and More Mobile
The future of consumer computing is almost certainly going to be mobile. SmartPhones are going to keep getting smarter and more multipurpose. Also, while touchscreen tablets like the iPad aren't quite ready to be all-purpose laptop replacements, they'll be there soon. Just take a look at the new Windows 8 "Metro" interface, and you'll see that even Microsoft thinks that the future has a touchscreen.
What this means is an increasing emphasis on location-based advertising delivery services. We'll soon hit a point where stores will be commonly broadcasting sales to mobile devices walking by. People will likely even be able to tell their phones to find stores nearby selling a particular product while having it automatically price-compare and point them directly to the best deal.
This is not to say, incidentally, that the traditional computer is leaving consumer life entirely, but it will likely be relegated to a niche role for devotees, gamers and hobbyists. Plus it will still be a long time before business abandons them completely.
More Social, Less SEO, Different SEO
The Google algorithm for SEO has nearly 450 inputs. This calculation has always been in flux but never more than today when the world of social media, with its rich sets of data surrounding conversations with friends, family and associates, is ripe for the picking. Google+ wants to be the search/social stomping ground for people to express themselves openly as they trust Google to bring them more of what they want, and less of what they don’t, based in part on their online conversations.
One problem with this strategy is that Facebook is the king of the social media hill, and it won’t allow Google access to that kind of information. But the idea of merging “search” and “social” is not going to go away. It's been known for awhile that Google would like to replace Pagerank with something better, and the tendency of Internet marketing to openly game the Pagerank system will likely only hasten this day.
Google+ may eventually gain enough traction to change the way SEO works and make it more social, so that people can have the benefit of a search/social hybrid. But not if Facebook can help it. Not only do you and I have a ringside seat to the heavyweight matchup between Facebook and Google we are the referees as well. Will we collectively trust Google, or Facebook for that matter, to build the kind of data file that will provide search results based on a blend of content, traffic and personal interaction?
Search results based in part on interpersonal relationships is a horizon some fear and others embrace. However far down this road we travel it will make social-based brand-building and awareness even more critical. Businesses that are investing heavily in social marketing today and working on creating honestly passionate fan bases are almost certainly going to be reaping the rewards in years to come. And, contrariwise, those businesses and industries which treat social opinion with enough respect will probably find themselves marginalized in the future.
Watering the Astroturf
The downside to this rise of social marketing is that the line between "brand-building" and "outright bribery" is going to keep getting blurrier. Consider this either advice or a warning: tactics like paying everyday people to shill for products will be increasingly common. This will likely become a major Achilles heel for honest social-based marketing, unless some sort of universal "Whuffie" system gains common usage. (Sites like Reddit and their Karma points seem to predict this.)
Well, that's all for today, kids. In the next post, we'll keep exploring the pathways of the future of Internet marketing, including talk about data mining and the potential impact of future legal regulations. If you find yourself wondering about the future of your marketing, and you'd like some help and a fresh perspective, give DeepSky Marketing a call. 707 823-3888.