With every new decade, we can anticipate changes across the tech industry. For example, the implementation of the California Consumer Privacy Act earlier this month is already drastically impacting the way publishers roll out new data collection practices. As we settle into this new year and new decade, we can expect plenty more changes, especially when it comes to how brands look at their advertising offering and thoughtful interactions with their customers. Here are my predictions for 2020 and why I anticipate these will be key changes we see this year:
1. Advertisers broaden their perspective of a conversion funnel
Online publishers are under a lot of pressure today as the industry continues to evolve through a period of hyper-aggressive change. The shift into programmatic and data-heavy segmentation has created an advertiser mindset that seeks immediate, same-session clicks and conversion. Advertisers mistakenly believe that this is the strongest signal or barometer of success–but this is not always the case. The same-session or last-session conversion funnel is often the end-result of a multi-layered set of exposures across multiple channels and touchpoints. Sophisticated marketers understand that awareness, and ultimately purchase, is driven by a complex and holistic set of exposure points and marketing ROI calculations need to reflect that reality. I anticipate that we’ll start seeing a return to more holistic multi-channel and test-market-based ROIs in 2020.
2. Social pressure pushes big companies to make micro-changes in 2020
The rapid, often unchecked innovation and scale within the tech industry has led many consumers to believe that tech companies are actually damaging our societal fabric, and I don’t disagree in some key areas. The ensuing pressure has pushed some tech companies to make positive changes—Instagram hiding like counts as the latest example—but I’d classify these changes as “microchanges.” I predict that we’re still years away from major tech companies taking aggressive stances, like incorporating age limitations on social media (18+) or restricting the amount of time that can be spent on their platforms, as this would cause severe negative impacts to their business models. But there are signs of hope. I applaud Twitter, for example, for banning political ads; this is a stance Evite has taken for years (we have not taken a single political ad since I started as CEO in 2014). In 2020, I’m looking forward to more brands taking bigger, bolder steps forward in service to what I call the fourth stakeholder: society.
3. Election chaos drives more open conversations
The chaos in today’s political landscape has hyper-fractionalized our society. People are literally avoiding get-togethers that cross political boundaries in fear of uncomfortable conversations. On a positive note though, this landscape has driven more gatherings around critical social justice topics like sustainability, politics, women’s rights, diversity and more. We have seen an average YoY growth of 13% since 2016 for these types of events. In 2020, it is more important than ever to have open conversations with different points-of-view and seek to understand one another vs. avoiding the uncomfortable. I am hopeful in the next year we’ll see more individuals reach across party lines face-to-face to help offset the divisive tone being set by our media outlets.
4. Social platforms that survive will inspire creativity
TikTok had a huge year and it’s obvious it will continue to see explosive viral growth in 2020. While I hold a strong stance against some social media platforms, TikTok is one in which I see some value when being used to create vs. passively consume content. The platform requires some level of original creativity and encourages users to stretch their minds to create something that connects with their audience (in contrast to other social media platforms that simply have you construct a perfect, curated image of your life). Of course, like any other platform that taps into addictive centers of the brain, it runs the risk of consuming far too much of our attention if left unchecked or unmonitored. I’d love to see TikTok instigate a forced mix of creation vs. passive viewing–something I’m actually experimenting with my kids at home.
As 2020 shapes up, we can expect many changes across the board. To compete and stay relevant, tech companies must not only accept, but actively embrace the perspective of their consumers in a changing world and adjust accordingly.