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September 12th, 2017

These 3 Trends Will Make You a Better Marketer

1. Messaging and Bots are next year’s problem

2. It’s time to cut the TV cord

3. There is a single “cable killer” coming 

4. Everything starts with the consumer

Any marketer who agreed with Nos. 1-3, sorry to say, has an unfortunately dated mindset. Those who agreed with No. 4, however, are thinking with the kind of growth mindset necessary to be successful in The Future of Marketing. In the next decade, everything will be connected: offline and online; people, places, and things. Activate Founder and CEO Michael J. Wolf, in conversation with Neustar CMO, Steven Wolfe Pereira, lays out three key, connected themes that define the future of marketing for marketers smart enough to put their consumers first.

1. Messaging and Bots: Stakes are High, But NOT Winner Takes All

“The most widespread consumer digital behavior is not going to be social and not going to be search, it’s going to be messaging,” Wolf says.  In 2015, Business Insider reported that messaging apps overtook social networks in popularity. Today, messaging bots are useful for very simple interactions on platforms like Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp, but Wolf predicts that going forward, messaging bots will become a lot more sophisticated and integrated into all consumer applications and marketing. They will use AI, be easily discoverable, and include cross-platform portability and payment integration. Services like WeChat and LINE are already heavily used in Asia for payment and customer service applications, but U.S. adoption has been slower.

“Integrations will become much smoother and bots will not be limited to one platform. Consumers need to get a lot more comfortable using them,” says Wolf.

So how do brands start to integrate messaging into their marketing spend? While the revenue stream for messaging is still small, those who delay planning for integration will lose. Tech brands like Uber are ahead of the game because messaging is built into their product. But smart marketers considering cutbacks in customer service calls centers, may want to consider how a bot can resolve consumer problems and cut long-term costs.

2. Television: Cutting the TV Cord is a Bit Premature

“There is a lot of bad press around cord-cutting television and, specifically, how Millennials are not interested in TV anymore.” Wolf says. “I believe that cutting the television cord is still far off.” A recent Activate study found that a large number of households are still watching television, and consumers are willing to pay for more choice to the tune of around $84/month, with no income correlation.

So why, then are brands seeing less revenue? Password sharing is a frequent guess by brands and most believe millennials won’t pay for service. The opposite is true. Millennials, who watch over 20 hours of television per week, would still be willing to pay for television without using someone else’s login information.

According to Wolf, “It’s going to come down to a multi-platform approach … if brands are going to do a buy, they need a 360 approach that includes TV, events, video, and custom content.”

3. Cable Killers: Room For Many Players, But More Choice Built Into Bundles

“Cable killers” like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and others enter the market each day. According to Wolf, “Growth from these services will NOT come from customer acquisition, but from consumers doubling up on new services.” Wolf remains optimistic when it comes to the flooded market. He believes that video streaming growth will come from multiple service subscriptions, adding, “It will eventually come down to price.”

One area he sees as ripe for growth is sports: specifically, soccer, basketball, and e-sports — games that appeal to the two largest-growing demographics, millennials and Hispanics.

In his final remarks, Wolf talked about his career shift from President and COO of MTV Networks, where he ran a $7B operation, to his move to Silicon Valley to found Activate. His advice to marketers was simple: It’s good to be impatient in today’s market, where speed can make or break a company’s success and, most importantly, focus on the customer experience, not just monetization (a word Wolf hates). A better understanding of your end user is, and always will be, what makes smart marketers … even smarter. 

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