Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
April 15, 2010 2:32 PM

Four Current Trends That Will Change Marketing Forever

The one component that holds most businesses back from getting involved in new media (besides muttering under their breath the wrongly held belief that, "This is the way it has always been done") is the concern about going after what is "real" versus what may well be just a fad.

While many companies have capitalized on short-term trends (look no further than the fashion industry), the more traditional businesses would rather be the slow followers. It's almost laughable that there are still some businesses that believe that the Internet is just a fad. It is not. Don't believe me? Look around you. How many consumers, businesses, peers and competitors do you know who are not online? How many of them do not have both high-speed Internet access (at work and at home) and are using some kind of mobile device (from the hipper iPhone to a more standard cellphone)? How many of them, when asked by their spouse to book a vacation, do not go online to do research, but rather place a call to a travel agent and wait for their phone call to be returned? Pushing this idea further, if the Internet is a fad, do you think that tomorrow when you wake up, the only way you will get the news is from the newspaper on your front porch or the six o'clock news on TV?

The Internet and social media have changed everything. They are not fads. They are a new way for people to connect, gather information, share, collaborate and build their business.

Along with those shifts to new ways of doing things does come many different trends. Some of them stick and others fall by the wayside. In the past couple of years (and looking into the not-so-distant future) here are four trends that will become fixtures of the successful new business models....

Four Trends That Will Change Marketing Forever:

  1. Touch: From the iPhone and Google Nexus One to the iPad, the coming plethora of touch-tablet computing validates that we are moving away from fixed computer work stations. Along with that, the constructs of using a keyboard and mouse will quickly go the way of the dodo bird. Some are saying that kids today will learn to type on glass, others (my hand is raised) think that kids will soon be learning to type on air, and that all manipulation and creation of media and information is going to be multi-touch in a simple and intuitive way (see the movie Minority Report for more). Get ready for the humanization and personalization of hardware as we begin to touch way more than type.
  2. Analytics: Walmart's success is driven by its data. As the Internet creates multiple touch points where any individual can report and publish to everyone else (think Twitter, Facebook or blogging), imagine what real-time analytics are going to do for business. Think about how we're going to be pushing well beyond static data into understanding the social side of information as well. What are we talking about? It's not just about knowing who is doing what on our websites, but it will be about knowing who those people are, who they are connected to, how much of an influencer they are and what that could mean to our businesses - all in real time. If you thought we were already drowning in data, prepare to be swamped with valuable insights on top of that.
  3. One-line: You will no longer be "online" and then on your mobile device. It's just one-line. Many businesses still divide how they develop, strategize and execute on the Internet with what's happening in the mobile space. Yes, the iPad is one kind of link between a desktop or laptop and a mobile device, but the bridge is extended even further as all devices become untethered from wires and fixed locations. The "online experience" is just that - something you can experience in front of a big screen at your home or office, or in the palm of your hand. How we adjust our websites for this coming shift (and coupling it to trend #1) is where the rubber will meet the road.
  4. Location-aware: The recent hype and excitement over Twitter and Foursquare is really more about mobile and location-aware online social networks than whether or not Jesse James is actually following one of Tiger Woods' mistresses on Twitter. The ability to not only publish information, but to receive and engage with content based on where you physically are changes everything. From the value of the content while you're "on the ground" to how search, information and referrals are displayed to you based on where you're presently situated. Whether or not Twitter and Foursquare become as irrelevant as Friendster and Second Life is secondary to what these platforms really offer the business world - the ability to connect and publish to those who are physically close to us and interested in what we sell.

So, while most businesses are still busy pulling their hair out and trying to figure out how to get a video to go viral on YouTube or more people to follow them on Twitter, you can spend some quality time strategizing over what the next 18 to 24 months are going to look like as these trends become the foundation for how businesses boom.

What current trends do you think will become business and marketing standards going forward?

The above posting is my twice-monthly column for the Montreal Gazette and Vancouver Sun newspapers called, New Business - Six Pixels of Separation. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original versions online here:

- Montreal Gazette - Want to stay on top of technology? Here are 4 trends you need to spot.
Vancouver Sun - Four trends that will change business forever.

By Mitch Joel

Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Colin Whitney
    Mitch Joel

    I think there will be a coming to terms with the fact that you can't / shouldn't have a separate "digital" strategy from the "traditional" strategy. I'm seeing this more, and more - though I'm still seeing the 2 treated as though the company or brand has 2 heads acting on different goals. I hope we see very soon, that when we talk strategy it's assumed we're covering all goals considering all appropriate channels.

    Short answer: Integrated traditional and digital strategies.

  • Posted by Stefany Singh
    Stefany Singh

    Real Time: You touched on it a bit - but the reality will be that data reporting, following, conversing, replying, posting will all be real time. Businesses will need to quicken the pace of their acceptance of digital mediums. Waiting a month or a week for information will make that information dated. Understanding how to capitalize will be understanding how to take advantage of "right now". Think event memorabilia - harder sell when you're no longer at the concert, but a hot ticket item at intermission.

  • Posted by Prince
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch - you make some great points!!

    I would add that Augmented reality is going to combine points 1,3, & 4 and take micro-targeting to the next level.

    In terms of analytics, research will move away from "me" to "we" research, something the prediction markets are already doing. Look for other predictive models like Net Lift etc. to pick up steam as well to help marketers optimize their $ spend. Also, look for sCRM and other approaches to start getting integrated more and more.

    You will also see crowd-sourced marketing programs really start to mature in the next 2 years.

    Perhaps the most significant change that needs to happen (not quite sure about the timeline though) is the critical need for individual mindsets and organizational culture to change, and not just marketing, in order to truly capitalize on empowered diversity.


  • Posted by Stefany

    Also - trending. Watching real time trending will be very important to business - expecially when consider product launches, released material etc.

  • Posted by Brett Greene
    Mitch Joel

    It's amazing how many people outside of the tech and social media bubbles are unaware of these factors that we consider to be common knowledge. Thanks for laying them out and tying them together in a concise manner. The faster the general public can grok the new realities of how we live, compute, communicate and share in our world of new media, the more we'll all benefit.

  • Posted by Mark Mathson
    Mitch Joel

    I like the insight here Mitch. So true too. The current favorite of mine that you focused on is analytics. To answer the question at the end of your post: the business marketing methods of yesterday don't need to be washed away down the drain, they need to be melded with the new media methods of today. Plenty of old school marketers out there that need to collaborate with the "new kids" on the block. Knowledge transfer and cross training is invaluable.

  • I like your points and believe they are all likely to impact marketing, especially the emergence of real-time analytics. The people in charge of website analytics today will have the chance to really play an important and expanded role in the future. However, are the people in these roles really ready to get in front of "the business"?

    Another reaction to your article, these items make me even more inclined to want to utilize and be empowered with different online profiles or personas. In fact, I should be able to switch between them on my choosing. I am going to want to share and receive different information when at work as a professional vs. at home or on the road.

    • Posted by Mark Mathson
      Mitch Joel

      Adam brings up a great point about the personal/professional balance that many people prefer to keep separate. It is true that often times with the social web they spill over together, but there are valid reasons to keep the personas fenced. I know a law enforcement friend whom will not connect with me on LinkedIn due to an attempt at keeping a low profile. Respectable, but how does this affect his social networking efforts? Greatly.

      Good thing so many of these are opt in, for now. ;-)

  • Posted by Mark
    Mitch Joel

    I guess if there was one word that could pull it all together it would be:


    Creating an incredible, natural experience that bond customers to businesses is the way of the future.

    And that's great news to the little guy/mom & pop stores that are going up against Wall Street & Wal Mart.

    Great post, Mitch.

  • Posted by Geoff
    Mitch Joel

    Great points! I believe the corporation will experience a very similar fate as musicians post-digital age. Yes there will always be rockstar brands, but there will also be many smaller companies who will (with mastery of their online world) experience far greater success than would previously have been possible. An expanding corporate middle class that is web saavy.

  • Posted by Mick Higgins
    Mitch Joel


    Fantastic post. I love your enthusiasm and passion towards the new digital world. It's funny how so many people rubbished the announcement of the iPad, and never saw the potential. Now with the world in full blown tablet mania, both on the consumer and the manufacturer side.

    In response to your question:

    "What current trends do you think will become business and marketing standards going forward?" I am hugely excited about the current accelerated pace the industry is moving at, but I do think the question is more "What marketing standards should be introduced to regulate, and protect consumers?"

    The reason I say this is geolocation can become very intrusive, and people will take advantage of this and ruin the party for everyone. In order to instill harmony with real time operations, there needs to be barriers and protection first in my opinion.

  • Posted by Rasul Sha'ir
    Mitch Joel

    Great post Mitch. Here are four trends that are waaay under the radar. . .

    Marketing in a customer world vs. a consumer world. When you differentiate between the two the very idea of what marketing is begins to change. My good friend Mike Bonifer did an awesome post on it it here.

    Marketing the context instead of the content. As is evident with Youtube, twitter (or any "social media platform) any tom, dick and harry can create content. But it's spotlighting the context and speaking about the content under the umbrella of a relevant context that truly has the ability impact and become sustainable. A brief talk on it here -

    Marketing as narrative. Marketing lives in the business world (primarily) yet the world (day by day) is becoming more technological and interactive (social). Identifying the Narrative positions a brand and its customers to discover vs. having what we want (or think we want) and then marketing that. Marketing is limited in a dynamic multi-channel world. Narrative Identification is not. It allows much more agility in a ever-changing marketplace.

    Keep the good stuff coming Mitch.

  • Posted by Srinivas Rao
    Mitch Joel

    One of the major trends I think we'll see in business and marketing is much more collaboration. If blogging/social media has showed us anything it's that we may start out working as individuals, but real growth comes from collaboration (guest posts, collaborative, ebooks, interviews, etc).

    Where I see this translating for big brands is by collaborating with complementary products. I currently freelance for a company called Bio Ionic that makes an Ionic hair straightener. As part of how to build their fan base on Facebook, I recommended that they consider partnering up with products that actually compliment their product (i.e. hair color, shampoo, etc). I think if brands embrace this mentality a bit more they'll get quite a bit of mileage out of their social media marketing. A few others I can think of:

    Travel Sites: They should partner with rental car companies, travel guides, hotels, etc, etc.

    Food Sites: Should partner with people like Williams Sonoma, Crate and Barrel, etc. If I were Zagat for example I would hook up with Williams Sonoma and try to find a common ground. If I were a well known restaurant locally I would capitalize on the network of other brands.

    The list goes on and on.

  • Posted by Massy
    Mitch Joel

    Location-awareness is interesting yet scary at the same time... will we have more of our personal lives broadcast? I guess it's all about setting your own personal boundaries of what you want others to know....

  • Posted by Mike DeSousa
    Mitch Joel

    Does anyone have any recommendations on Real-time analytics measurement software?

    Have been going through Avinash Kaushik's Web Analytics 2.0 book...great reading! ...noticed Mitch's praise on p.1!

    Liked your comment Mitch about typing on glass...reminds me of Pranav Mistry from M.I.T.:

  • Posted by Alius

    Very insightful stuff. Not totally onboard with everything but i see your angle. keep it up

  • Posted by Nic C
    Nic C

    I work in the sports industry and always 'surprised' that an our business is always behind (sometimes way behind) the opportunities available online / Social media etc...
    Are you guys aware of any key progresses in Sports / or orgasniations that do manage to buck that trend - and lead rather than follow at long distance...

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