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71 ways that online marketing will NOT change in 2017


By Samuel Scott, The Promotion Fix columnist

January 11, 2017 | 10 min read

Throughout this month, countless marketers will write clickbait articles listing all of the ways that marketing is destined to change this year. Most of those pieces will be unoriginal, redundant and uninteresting.


And now for something completely different: what ignorant practices, intentional deceptions and grandiose delusions will continue to occur in the digital marketing world in 2017?

1. A digital marketer with no education in marketing will unknowingly take a traditional marketing practice, apply it to the internet, invent a new name for it, and then proclaim that "marketing has changed".

2. People will say “native advertising” when they mean “advertorial.”

3. Internet marketers will focus on direct-response campaigns and their associated metrics while they ignore the other 90% of marketing.

4. “Marketing communications” will be the creation and transmission of marketing collateral over channels to an audience through a predetermined promotion mix.

5. Online marketers will unknowingly refer to “marketing communications” as “content marketing.”

6. People will use the word “hack” as though it is a good thing rather than a word that means a quick, crap job that does not address the underlying issue.

7. Everyone will confuse “public relations” and “publicity”.

8. People will say “influencer marketing” when they mean “influencer relations”.

9. People will call themselves influencers and will therefore not be real influencers.

10. Marketers who are jealous of the high-tech startup R&D world will apply software development terms to marketing practices even though the two are completely different things.

11. Few will debate whether they need a product marketing or brand marketing strategy – and even fewer will know what that even means.

12. Everyone will think that dodgy, self-reported metrics from for-profit social media networks mean something.

13. Those social media networks will not allow any third party to audit their numbers.

14. Online marketers will conveniently ignore the fact that Oreo’s famous “Super Bowl tweet” reached less than 1% of the company’s target market.

15. No brands of physical-world products will be built over social media.

16. Digital marketers will vastly overestimate the value of social media channels.

17. Marketers will continue to use those social media networks.

18. Too many SEOs will think they can still wave a magic wand or push a button to make search-engine rankings go up.

19. The SEO industry will refuse to admit that the best and greatest numbers of backlinks come simply as natural byproducts of ongoing publicity campaigns and getting people to talk about you online.

20. People will say "social media marketing” even though it makes as much sense as "telephone marketing”.

21. Marketers will pretend that “growth hacking” is somehow different from “product marketing”.

22. The online advertising industry will assume that reaching targeted, perfect individuals returns a better ROI than reaching broad demographic types even though there is no proof that the assumption is correct.

23. Digital marketers will tell bosses and clients that one “impression” refers to one person seeing an online advertisement one time.

24. More than a few ad networks, media buyers and fraudulent publishers will steal more money from advertisers and legitimate publishers through online advertising fraud.

25. Creativity will result in the best marketing campaigns, but digital marketers will still think first about analytics, engagement rates, conversion rates and search engine rankings.

26. Creative people will deliver more value than any automated, AI, or machine learning marketing software.

27. Online marketers will refer to “junk mail” and “e-mail spam” as “drip marketing”.

28. Marketers will think that the rest of the world is just like them and shares their likes, tastes and media usage.

29. Every marketer will be sure that “TV is dying” when the opposite will remain true.

30. Online marketers will remain convinced that normal, everyday people want to “engage” and have a “relationship” with brands such as their dish soap, toilet paper and mustard.

31. More articles will have headlines in this clichéd formula: [number] [unnecessarily strong adjective] [noun] to [action].

32. Everyone will think that so-called “inbound marketing” is a distinct marketing process while getting people to a website or a physical store is largely the same thing.

33. No one will realize that the first part of so-called “inbound marketing” is still just creating marketing collateral and then pushing it out to the world over search engines and communications channels such as social media.

34. Everyone will think that “inbound marketing” and “outbound marketing” are real things.

35. Marketers will be surprisingly susceptible to getting duped by businesses that market to marketers.

36. People will take a free and quick course to learn so-called “marketing” online rather than take the time to read an actual Marketing 101 textbook.

37. Digital marketers will focus on tactics and ignore strategy.

38. Digital marketers will not know the difference between tactics and strategy.

39. Digital marketers will always assume that digital channels are the first and best channels to use because their jobs depend on it.

40. People will invent inane terms in this format: “[random noun] marketing”

41. Online marketers will think “social media” is a marketing activity rather than a collection of marketing channels.

42. Digital marketers will jump to thinking about how they can use a particular online marketing channel without thinking whether they should use that channel.

43. I will speak at marketing conferences and hear other presenters making huge, generalised assertions without having any proof or evidence to back them up.

44. Speakers and columnists will repeat inaccurate and blatantly wrong assumptions from the online marketing industry’s echo chamber.

45. People will accept all of these statements as true because they are being said or written by a person whose name they recognise.

46. Someone will proclaim that “advertising is dead” even though ad budgets continue to increase every year and everyone sees advertising everywhere that we go.

47. Marketers will contort the English language to avoid saying the word “advertisement” whenever they produce advertisements because “advertising” is supposed to be dead.

48. Someone will take an existing marketing practice and create a new buzzword for it to sell books, get speaking opportunities and obtain more clients.

49. The world will tolerate offline advertising but hate online advertising.

50. Online ad blocking will increase in popularity.

51. Everyone will think that Google Analytics and other marketing analytics platforms are accurate even though no data is passed whenever a browser blocks the tracking code.

52. Google Analytics will tell you the source of website traffic but not the cause of that traffic, further making its value to marketers extremely dubious.

53. Online marketers will think that all people fit into a neat and tidy sales funnel.

54. Digital marketers will forget that a lot of things that are useful or important cannot be measured or quantified.

55. Marketers will constantly use the word “content” even though it means nothing precise or useful and whose definition is merely that which fills a void.

56. A lot of marketers I know will read this opinion column and tell me that they loved (or hated) this “content”.

57. People will think that “content” itself is a strategy while marketing collateral is actually produced and transmitted within the context of an overall marketing communications strategy.

58. Marketers will constantly flood the Internet with infinite amounts of crap because there are no longer any physical limiting factors in publishing such as the word count of a newspaper column or the length of a TV commercial.

59. Digital marketers will publish something just to publish something even though they or their companies have nothing new, original or insightful to say. People will preach that quality beats quantity but will continue to do the opposite.

60. People will think that the ability to publish a WordPress blog and Facebook post turns one into a “marketer”.

61. People will read this piece and then praise (or condemn) “what The Drum says” because they no longer understand the difference between the news and opinion sections of publications.

62. Publications will blur the distinction between editorial and advertising to stymie their massive losses in advertising revenue.

63. Those publications will successfully spin it by saying that they are “reinventing journalism” and “partnering with informative voices.”

64. Writers will put numbers at the beginning of headlines because people like you are provoked to click, read and share.

65. Digital marketers will dismiss marketing terminologies and longstanding marketing best practices simply because they are “old” – as if that were a logical argument.

66. Online marketers will refuse to define online marketing terms precisely and therefore not realise that they are merely doing traditional marketing practices over new sets of channels called the Internet and mobile.

67. The internet and mobile will merely allow for a greater variety in the formats of marketing collateral.

68. Virtual reality and augmented reality will also be new sets of communications channels over which traditional marketing practices will be executed.

69. Technologies and communications channels will change, but overall marketing processes will not.

70. Marketing will pretty much stay the same – just as it has every single year.

71. I could republish this exact list in one year and it would still be relevant to 2018.

Samuel Scott is a global marketing speaker and director of marketing and communications at He tweets at @samueljscott

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