We know what will happen in 2011. Marketing plans are ready. Teams are staffing up for research, ideation, and launches. There will be news of acquisitions, hostile takeovers, and inventions. We will need to be nimble enough to respond to these ad-hoc changes. Yet we truly need to plan for the future, not just for today and tomorrow. We need to start thinking about how content, distribution technologies and audience behavior will change by 2015. The following are predictions on the landscape shifts that will become increasingly defined within the next five years.
1- Short entertainment will be standard on phones: Audiences prefer short excerpts to long exposes. Most people do not like to read. Many of us need to or would like to stay in the know. With the advent of tablets and mobile broadband, we will read 300-500 word stories on our smart phones. Since online video will be near ubiquitous, content providers will produce more infotainment clips and rely on visual communications to tell stories in creative, succinct ways.
2- We will arrange the features on your favorite Web sites: We will see click and drag web sites. The content management systems will move to the front end from backend. Brands and news portals will have a better understanding of their users’ preferences and have the chance to improve on their services.
3- CSR audiences will be more demanding: Generation G (giving) will scrutinize philanthropy and CSR efforts more closely. Donating two to 10 percent of proceeds to a cause will not be enough. They will expect more creative approaches from brands that produce tangible results and offer meaningful engagement.
4- Information filters and organizers will regain popularity: People will use filters to organize their ever-growing list of contacts and prioritize among them. Instead of switching to 50-people networks, such as Path.com, online audiences will defer to new group and folder features on their Facebook pages.
5- Facebook will turn people info into business (and it won’t be just advertising): Facebook will fight with Amazon and smaller players like Yelp to be a word of mouth search engine. The vast amount of personal information it collects will continue to help marketers map out consumer preferences based on social connections and profile details. Privacy battles and issues will continue. Users will search for experience-based recommendations and listings within their extended networks.
6- Google will become a content distributor: Google will expand its e-stores to include music, movies and clips, creating a vast indie market online. Audience ratings on these pieces of content will be added to Google algorithms.
7- Word of mouth marketing will become more precise: Marketers will successfully target beyond the inner/immediate circle of influencers. Our understanding of second and third cycles of word of mouth will improve. There will be more sophisticated program offerings to mobilize crowds and offer innovative products/services to a wider range of influencers.