6 Predictions for the Marketing World in 2014
It’s time, once again, to continue my annual tradition of analyzing my predictions from 2013, and if I score high enough, predicting what will happen in 2014. I use this process because it keeps me honest, and keeps you informed as to my relative levels of accuracy (or failure).
Here’s how scoring works:
- Spot On (+2) – when a prediction hits the nail on the head and the primary criteria are fulfilled
- Partially Accurate (+1) – predictions that are in the area, but are somewhat different than reality
- Not Completely Wrong (-1) – those that landed near the truth, but couldn’t be called “correct” in any real sense
- Off the Mark (-2) – guesses which didn’t come close
If the score is positive, I’m at least somewhat good at this, and if it’s negative, I’m clearly losing the pulse of the industry. Let’s see how I did!
In 2013, I made 10 predictions. They were:
#1: None of the potential threats to Google’s domination of search will make even a tiny dent
#2: “Inbound marketing” will be in more titles and job profiles as “SEO” becomes too limiting for many professionals
In early January of 2013, “inbound marketing” was used on 18,965 LinkedIn profiles. 12 months later, it’s up to 39,860, a growth rate of 2.1X. Meanwhile, “SEO” was in 716,933 profiles and is now in 1,268,169 profiles, a growth rate of 1.7X. The SimplyHired data shows “inbound marketing” making up ground and nearly catching “SEO” in job listings, but for a spike in “SEO” at the end of the year.
I could be lenient and award myself a point since “inbound marketing” did grow faster than “SEO,” but I don’t think that captures the spirit. Instead, I’m giving myself a -1 because SEO clearly is not becoming too limiting for most, and is still growing fast (though less quickly than in years past). This is a trend that I might expect to see more of in future years, though. -1 point
#3: More websites will move away from Google Analytics as the only provider of web visitor tracking
The data from Builtwith suggests that this one is right on the mark. Here’s Mixpanel, Piwik, Hubspot, and Omniture, and here’s Google Analytics (whose growth has stagnated, though it is still clearly more popular than any of the others by a very wide margin). +2 points
#4: Google+ will continue to grow in 2013, but more slowly than in 2012
Technically, this one is true from a growth rate perspective (data via SELand), but from a number of users one, 2013 was actually very similar to 2012, so I’m giving myself -1 point
#5: App store search will remain largely ignored by marketers
Anecdotal data would seem to suggest this has been the case, and that’s supported by search trends. There was a slight increase in job postings around “app store marketing,” but the volume is so low, it’s hard to tell if that’s a single company or two putting up a couple jobs and impacting the numbers. Given the extremely low LinkedIn numbers (only 118 profiles list “app store marketing” and 59 list “app store SEO”) and the shockingly small amount of blog posts on the topic, I think we can call this one. +2 points
#6: Facebook (and maybe Twitter, too) will make substantive efforts to expose new, meaningful data to brands that let them better track the ROI of both advertising and organic participation
Facebook has continued to add more features and data to their advertising platform and brand pages, but it’s hard to call it wholly meaningful. Twitter, however, did introduce more data for their advertisers, expanded the advertising options, and now sends some nice metrics via emails to account holders (regardless of advertising status). However, it’s hard to call any of these truly substantive or incredibly meaningful. -1 point
#7: Google will introduce more protocols like the meta keywords for Google News, rel author for publishers, etc.
This one would appear to be dead wrong. After the rel=publisher and rel=prev/next tags, we haven’t seen a truly broad-base new expansion in this arena from Google. -2 points
#8: The social media tool market will continue a trend of shrinkage and consolidation
In 2010 and 2011, we saw a significant amount of activity in the social media software/tool/app market. In 2012, that trend very clearly continued. But 2013 didn’t see quite as many high profile transactions. We saw acquisitions of Topsy, Swaylo, Bluefin Labs, Semantelli, Sportstream, and Trendrr which may be enough to technically fulfill the criteria of continued consolidation. but don’t suggest a truly observable trend. -1 point
#9: Co-occurrence of brands/websites and keyword terms/phrases will be proven to have an impact on search engine rankings through correlation data, specific experiments, and/or both
The correlation data on this was interesting, but not wholly convincing. Then Google released Hummingbird, and the signs Bill Slawski pointed to in his posts on query refinement/substitution seemed even more prescient. That said, it’s hard to say we’ve proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that co-occurrence impacts rankings. There’s been no word from Google themselves (though plenty of hints), though the descriptions of how Hummingbird changes relevancy is a strong point in favor of this data. I wish we’d seen more experiments on this, but since the impact is still at least somewhat unproven, I’m going with -1 point
#10: We’ll witness a major transaction (or two) in the inbound marketing field, potentially rivaling the iCrossing acquisition in size and scope
Oracle buying Responsys for $1.39 Billion is, obviously, huge. And earlier this year, Salesforce purchased ExactTarget for $2.5 Billion. Those two alone are good enough to call this one a win. +2 points
Grand total: 8 – 7 = +1 aka barely good enough to continue making predictions for 2014
Looking back, I think my predictions were a little conservative. This year, I’m going to go out on a few more limbs and be a bit more specific.
#1: Twitter Will Go Facebook’s Route and Create Insights-Style Pages for At Least Some Non-Advertising Accounts
I’d expect to see them start testing this with some verified accounts, possibly for big brand advertisers, and then roll it out more broadly. With Twitter going public, it makes tremendous sense for the social site to encourage greater participation of higher quality amongst their high profile users.
#2: We Will See Google Test Search Results with no External, Organic Listings
As Google continues to get more and more aggressive with things like knowledge graph, visual ads, and instant answers, I suspect we’ll see some of the first result sets that have no traditional, external-pointing, organic links whatsoever. Google may keep some links as references to the source they’re bringing in, but they won’t be in the classic organic results format we’ve seen from them over the last 15 years.
Side note: This will scare the poop out of many marketers, but it probably (hopefully?) won’t expand much beyond the experimental/limited release phase.
#3: Google Will Publicly Acknowledge Algorithmic Updates Targeting Both Guest Posting and Embeddable Infographics/Badges as Manipulative Linking Practices
The search giant will continue to say that many forms of guest authorship and embeddable content are legitimate and worthy ways of marketing, but they’ll take a public stab at removing the value passed by many of the seedier, less editorial forms of these tactics. I’m really looking forward to this, because I think these are some of the last bastions of gray-hat spamminess that make the SEO profession and SEO practices seem less legitimate to business owners of all stripes.
My hope is that when Google does this, they’re harsh enough with the algorithmic effects to knock a lot of manipulative sites/pages out of the top rankings, but don’t go beyond removal of link value into a penalization realm (since lots of very legitimate sites and businesses have, rightfully, presumed these tactics to be above board and employed them). IMO, making this part of the Penguin series of updates would be too punitive on a lot of sites that don’t deserve to rank lower simply for having done this in the past.
#4: One of these 5 Marketing Automation Companies Will Be Purchased in the 9-10 figure $ range: Hubspot, Marketo, Act-On, SilverPop, or Sailthru
Marketing automation is very hot, and analysts are already placing bets on Marketo being a target. I’m betting on one of these five companies because they’re at a scale to offer a potential buyer competition with Salesforce and Oracle (who bought ExactTarget Responsys, respectively).
#5: Resumes Listing “Content Marketing” Will Grow Faster than Either SEO or “Social Media Marketing”
Content marketing is undeniably hot right now, and companies are making investments at a pace I haven’t seen since the social media marketing craze of 2008-2010. Currently, LinkedIn shows:
- 1,268,195 profiles with “SEO”
- 2,767,263 profiles with “social media marketing”
- 81,529 profiles with “content marketing”
I’m predicting that, in percentage growth terms, “content marketing” will have a growth rate of 0.5X or higher more than either of the others. More marketers are going to start using the terminology that’s catching on with businesses big and small.
#6: There Will Be More Traffic Sent by Pinterest than Twitter in Q4 2014 (in the US)
Pinterest is an odd one. They haven’t been growing user numbers as fast as some in the space expected, but the intensity of sharing is unparalleled, and the growth rates for sharing are, too. For some types of sites (e.g. specific sets of content publishers) Pinterest is #2 behind only Facebook for social traffic referrals.
I’m predicting that in the 4th quarter of next year, heavy consumer use will lead to Pinterest driving more traffic, overall, than Twitter. Now I just have to hope someone produces a report that can help verify that claim.
That’s all for this year’s predictions. Please do share your own in the comments below.
Happy 2014 to all!