Waypoint Predictor: What's going to happen in search, Content, UX, tech, eCommerce & influencer marketing in 2017?


By Richard Draycott, Managing Director

December 19, 2016 | 6 min read

A story is often quoted in articles about the incredible age of invention that the world has been living through for the last Century or so. Apparently during his tenure, President McKinley was advised by his head of the U.S. Patent Office to close that office because ‘everything that could be invented, had already been invented.’

It’s a great story - sadly it’s not true, mere urban legend. Unsurprisingly new things have continued to be invented and no sector has shown more innovation and invention than the media and marketing sector has during the last five years. We have new platforms, new channels, new jobs, new types of agencies all culminating in a very different approach to marketing being forced upon brands eager to get their messages out to their consumers. Naturally new innovations will continue to present themselves, so what can we expect in the year ahead?

M&A specialists Waypoint Partners has spent 2016 speaking to agencies from all marketing disciplines and, together with The Drum, has gathered some predictions along the way. In part one we get some thoughts on what will be happening in search, content marketing, user experience, technology, eCommerce and influencer marketing.

Lisa Myers

Search marketing: Lisa Myers, chief executive officer, Verve Search

Google continually refines its algorithm - particularly the part that looks at links. It has become increasingly harder to do SEO in a “black hat” and shortcut kind of way. SEO in 2017 is therefore no longer (and arguably should never have been) about spammy shortcut strategies, but about developing creative campaigns that deserves links and shares. It’s about strong creative ideas and solid execution. From now on SEO is about thinking like a 1950s ad exec and executing like a geek!’

Peter Hendrick

Content marketing: Pete Hendrick, director, Octopus Group

I expect two major content marketing developments in 2017: one among clients, one among agencies.

In-house marketers have been experimenting with different content marketing approaches over the last couple of years. I see 2017 being the year when they really commit to a long-term content marketing strategy that delivers sales leads. This will be the year that the commercial impact from great content marketing will make CEOs and sales directors sit up and take note.

Meanwhile, from an agency perspective, everyone has been calling themselves content marketing agencies. As a result, the very definition of content marketing is subjective and varied in the extreme - and it’s confusing for in-house buyers. We will see a much clearer segmentation of content marketing in 2017 as agencies become more confident and commit to their own proposition.

Andrew Larkin

UX: Andrew Larking, creative director, Deeson

If we look back on 2017 in a generation's time, I believe we would mark it as the year that we democratised technologies such as machine intelligence as a service; chatbots, and contextual design.

2017 will be the year that we start the screenless web design revolution; allowing the semantic web to come of age, and where artificial intelligence begins to go mainstream, giving life to chatbots and personal assistants that are truly useful.

This year will bring about a more fundamental change in what we consider the web to be, and we will consider the impact these new possibilities will bring.

Robert McFarlane

Tech: Robert McFarlane, head of labs, Head

Whether it’s AI, machine learning, chatbots, smart homes or the Internet of Things (IoT), new technology in 2017 and beyond will be driven by automation. While it offers valuable data and tremendous efficiency, as we allow more of our lives and businesses to be handled by increasingly smart software, we need to ensure we aren’t giving up too much privacy or having too little security.

One area with serious privacy implications is facial recognition technology, which is as scary as it is fascinating. Today you can snap a photo of someone on the street and find their social media profiles using an app with a 60%-70% accuracy rate. And this accuracy is only increasing. While there are useful applications, the potential for stalking and discrimination is a serious issue we need to discuss as facial recognition develops.

​Cybersecurity is also a concern. The October 12th IoT ‘Denial of Service’ attack could be an indication of things to come, with IoT botnets becoming the method of choice for taking a system offline. Poorly configured industrial and consumer IoT devices could be highly vulnerable to intrusion. Addressing these problems needs to be a priority in 2017 if we want to avoid a major cybersecurity disaster.’

Jamal Cassim

eCommerce: Jamal Cassim, managing partner, Dare

In 2017, the use of technology to serve customer needs will continue to accelerate. The pressure will be on for retailers to use data more effectively.

AI is reaching the mainstream through the devices and platforms we already use and own. As Google’s Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri vie for roles in our lives, they will help businesses overlay contextual and preferential data with information about how and what we buy. Slicker, more personalised experiences for consumers; scarily rich customer knowledge for retailers. AI will also see an explosion through customer service, as retailers experiment with the benefits of chatbots and machine learning to help automate customer management.

There will also be advancements in OTT payments, with Facebook set to ramp-up its payment by messenger capabilities in the next few months, offering a billion users the opportunity to make payments directly via chat. In 2017, impulse buying will be easier than ever.

Simon Hankin

Influencer marketing: Simon Hankin, chief executive officer, Exposure Digital

In 2017 we will see a move away from the celebrity influencer, with brands shifting from throwing money at the latest big name in a hope to captivate their audience in a quick hit, to longer brand strategy campaigns based on closer collaboration.

The future of influencer marketing is one where brands and influencers grow together authentically, rather than brands simply stapling themselves onto someone with a captivate audience.

No longer will we see a beauty blogger mentioning a brand one week followed by its competitor the week after. Instead, we’ll see true creative collaborations. This is all dependent on brands and influencers alike ensuring that their core values and goals match perfectly, rather than being somewhat similar.

See the next WayPoint Partners Predictions, which will cover media, CRO, global integrated communications, direct marketing and mobile.


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