Just recently, I was asked to comment on the future of marketing and search and where I saw the industry being in 20 years’ time (2037).
It didn’t take me long before I realised that I had no idea, I hadn’t thought that far into the future – not 20 years into the future, at least. Realistically, in an ever-expanding industry, how can we possibly begin to predict what will happen in the future?
Think back to 1997, was there anyone who could predict how immersive technology would be in 2017? Was virtual reality a consideration, let alone the possibility that consumers could connect a headset to a games console or computer and be immersed in a completely computer-generated environment?
Twenty years ago in 1997, the first social media, Six Degrees, was developed. Created by Andrew Weinrich, the social media launched as a Friends Reunited-esque platform, thriving on previous school friends being able to connect with each other by searching their profiles on a database. Despite the social network gaining millions of users, it didn’t catch on. Why? Simply, it was too much behind it’s time – the internet infrastructure hadn’t matured enough and not enough people were connected to the internet.
So, how will things progress in the next 20 years based on my predictions?
Segmented customers and targeted marketing are a huge trend in modern society. With technology advancing constantly, we are likely to see it take over aspects of our lives in the next 20 years. As marketers, we will come to see an insight into consumer behaviour that is more advanced than ever before. For example, imagine the Google Glass was a success in the consumer world, could businesses track where people were looking? Track the eye movement in individuals and gauge what interests that specific individual?
Similarly, social media is becoming completely immersive. The world’s computer processing power will allow interactions to go beyond video chatting; will companies begin to allow a walkthrough or demo of their product, holographically projected into a workplace rather than sending a sales representative? Think of the possibilities, an international audience who could benefit from walkthroughs and tutorials at the click of a button.
How can this be targeted? Simply by collecting data of people using these products or video chatting with customer support reps. This is no longer targeting down to a segmented level, this is targeting on a specific business or individual scale.
Back in the early 1900s people believed that having their photograph taken would suck their soul away – now there are billion-pound apps and companies that have the main aim of profiting from people taking photos of their own face (our ancestors would be turning in their grave!).
Yet, we’re not too far away from a period of time in which we, as consumers, will begin putting our trust in businesses to use our data responsibly to deliver the products that we need in order to make our lives easier. This will create a shift in marketing, users will not put up barriers and blockers to adverts and instead see them as a useful tool to gauge what products they desire with less of a hinderance to their day-to-day activity.
Of course, our data will still be completely protected, and there will be little deviation from adhering to ever stricter regulations. However, users may have access to use Personal Data Exchanges, in which personal information can be supplied to large companies for a cost. Multi-billion-pound companies could soon have access to huge databases of our biological and biographical data.
The rise of the ChatBot
We’ve seen the AI that is Siri, Alexa, Cortana and the other host of software that help us with our daily lives. But what’s to come of them? Will they be phased out? Or will they just get more advanced? Thinking about a quote from Ray Kurzweil, Chief Futurist at Google, he said that by 2030 there will more than likely be a £750 computer that will be equal to the processing power of the human mind. He also said that having human-like AI is almost a certainty.
Imagine the world, Siri will no longer be software but also hardware, no longer in our phone but in our day to day lives, perhaps standing in front of us in a human-like form. When we are running low on drinks in the house, will Siri list a range of beverages that could potentially be ordered? But not stopping at that, advertising the price of the drinks too, essentially an opportunity for brands to individually target people in the home and get automated orders from your helpful AI.
The world is becoming a place of automation, where everything is accessed with ease. Remember the time where you’d have to go down to Blockbuster, rent a film and then remember to give it back to them before it expires or risk facing a fine? Now think about today how the movie industry is controlled. Blockbuster is bust and automatic subscriptions have taken over. Netflix, Amazon Prime and NOW TV (among others) have auto-renewal payments and you can watch a movie any day, any time – it’s bliss!
However, how far can we go with this? By 2037, in 20 years time, surely our lives will be automated and we’ll be subscribed to everything.
As the consumer becomes lazier, the business becomes more technological in finding a way in which to make it even easier for the consumers to access certain products. Maybe, in years to come, businesses won’t be selling individual products, but will instead be marketing annual or monthly subscriptions to their product ranges.
To the Future…
Of course, these predictions are merely that…a prediction! One cannot possibly begin to fathom the true infrastructural possibility of the internet and how fast we’ll advance in the next 20 years. Will Earth be as we know it today? Hopefully, the age of technology will not only benefit us in our lifetime, but continue to advance and benefit generations beyond us.
Here’s to the future!