10 Digital Predictions & Trends for 2017

2016 is rapidly coming to an end and, as happens around this time every year, people are taking a moment to reflect on the past 12 months and look towards the next.  The world of digital advertising and marketing is no exception.  In its recent webinar, ‘Key Digital Trends for 2017’, eMarketer outlined 10 predictions it anticipates taking place in the digital space in 2017.  Research shared in our most recent Local Pulse Report™ points towards these trends, as well.  eMarketer’s predictions are as follows:


Prediction #1:  Artificial Intelligence (AI) will not put marketers out of work. (At least not in 2017) 

Although eMarketer acknowledged that AI is definitely experiencing growth, especially in the use of search algorithms and real-time bidding, and that its role will only expand as its capabilities increase value to marketers and agencies, it’s not at the point where it will displace marketing jobs….yet.  Groups are forming in the industry to discuss the long-term effects that super-smart machine learning will have on marketers, but the general consensus is that those effects are decades away.  eMarketer went on to say that experts believe that the upside to integrating AI into business operations is that it will free-up marketers to concentrate on work of more value.


Prediction #2:  Internet users still won’t change their behaviors despite hacking scares. 

Coining 2016 “The Year of the Hacker”, eMarketer stated that, although US consumers expressed concern over security breaches and digital privacy, their behaviors haven’t changed.  Citing a survey conducted by AARP in July 2016, over half of adult respondents stated that they feel public Wi-Fi is not safe, but 30 percent of that same group access public Wi-Fi once a week or more.  Another survey backing up this claim comes from KPMG from March 2016.  When asked if they would continue to shop at big-box retailers following a security breach, 81 percent of Internet users responded that they would do so assuming the company addressed the issues.

Prediction #3:  Sometime in 2017, a live video stream will win a primetime-sized audience. 

In 2017, the lines between live television and digital video streaming will become blurred.  This is evidenced by more programming jumping straight to digital platforms rather than airing on traditional TV and cable networks.  In 2016, Twitter streamed live NFL games as well as the presidential debates signaling the beginning of this trend.  In 2017, both Hulu and YouTube are expected to launch live TV services with more to follow.  As this trend grows, so will the audiences who follow digital programming.


Prediction #4:  Chatbots will be all talk and no action. 

Major brands are launching chatbots on a variety of messaging apps, but that doesn’t mean that a large number of businesses and/or consumers will adopt the technology or even know that it exists.  A 2016 study by CompTIA revealed that only 1 in 5 business and IT professionals were aware of chatbots.  Further, research conducted by Magisto in September 2016 revealed that only 5 percent of US small and medium sized business have used chatbots. 


Prediction #5:  2017 will be the year of “authentically mobile” experiences. 

eMarketer explains that the term “authentically mobile” was coined by Peter Wagner and Martin Giles and is defined as experiences and services that could not have existed without a mobile device.  Popular examples include Uber, Snapchat and Poke’mon Go.  Factors accelerating authentically mobile experiences include increased mobile marketing savvy of businesses and their understanding of consumer behavior on mobile devices as well as consumer’s increased interaction with messaging apps, augmented reality and AI platforms.  Interpreting data from mobile devices is key when creating authentically mobile experiences.  Improvements in the ability to collect this data will lead to more authenticity.


Prediction #6:  Online grocery shopping will jump in 2017 with brick-and-mortar stores playing a starring role. 

This trend is emerging as more and more stores adopt online purchase/in-store pick-up options.  Wal-Mart’s 3.3 billion dollar acquisition of Jet.com, a CPG ecommerce site, is a prime example of retailers moving in this direction.  Jet.com’s method of discounting prices as shoppers add more to their carts coupled with the fact that 90% of the US population lives within 10 miles of a Wal-Mart is a recipe for online shopping/in-store pick-up success. The model provides value, convenience and could kick-start this shopping trend.


Prediction #7:  Marketers will make the move to more complex forms of attribution modeling in 2017.  

The more complex the digital advertising landscape and digital devices become, the more marketers are realizing that measuring cookies or calculating last-touch or last-click data are simply not effective attribution models anymore.  Marketers and agencies are beginning to understand how consumers interact with a multitude of devices and mediums and are adjusting their models accordingly.  eMarketer predicts that the number of US companies using multi-channel attribution models will be past the halfway mark in 2017; up from 40 percent in this year.


Prediction #8:  2017 will be the tipping point for mobile messaging. 

Messaging apps will be used by more than one half of mobile users, and see double-digit user growth in 2017.  As messaging moves more and more towards apps, it will begin to bleed into social networks such as Snapchat and Facebook Messenger.  The apps will also provide a healthy space for consumer/brand interaction.


Prediction #9:  Influencers will command a significant portion of the ad market in 2017.  

Influence marketing is the method of focusing marketing on specific types of individuals who have influence over potential customers.  Brands are increasingly allocating advertising dollars towards Influencers.  Although there is no forecast for how much Influencers will spend in the next year, predictions are that marketing revenues on Instagram alone will be over 570 million dollars.  This figure lends itself to the idea that Influencer marketing is a billion dollar industry.  We spoke to this point in our blog article about social media predictions for 2016.


Prediction #10:  Virtual Reality won’t be a significant marketing channel until hardware becomes more widespread. 

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have definitely become buzz words within the digital industry this past year, but immersive tech is still in its infant stages.  Forecasts for VR’s potential over the next 4 years are all across the board.  This is due in part to the fact that VR systems are still in development and/or are just now becoming available to consumers.  Businesses aren’t likely to invest in VR marketing until they see where it will lead.


The ever-changing digital landscape makes it difficult to make accurate predictions about trends.  With all of the information presented, however, one prediction may come to pass:  2017 will be an exciting year to be involved with digital marketing.

Let us know what you think.



Jason Peaslee

Jason Peaslee is the Managing Partner of Thrive Analytics, a marketing research and analytics consulting firm. His career spans more than 20 years in marketing, advertising, product development, research, and business management. Before founding Thrive Analytics in 2010, he held several senior leadership roles at AT&T, Reynolds & Reynolds, Berry Network, & The Berry Company.

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