‘Tis the season for looking in the crystal ball! Looking back at our predictions for 2016 (and 2014 and 2015), we’re pretty pleased to say most came to fruition, from the role of social analytics in predicting the Presidential election to chat platforms building native ad products (hello, Snapchat Discover!). Here’s what we're forecasting for 2017:
1. Oh, Snap! The Data Starts to Flow While large advertisers have been flocking to Snapchat with buys north of $1 million, they’ve been made largely on gut instinct. That won’t continue unless Snapchat makes ROI data readily available to the analytics and measurement ecosystem, as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and others have done. With Snapchat's imminent IPO and the need to maintain and expand its data-savvy advertiser base, expect it to expose much more data to advertisers in the coming year.
2. Deeper Public Video Metrics on Social While YouTube has publicly shared view metrics for years, most platforms have kept these metrics secret, only sharing this data directly with content owners. Since legacy video platforms (you know, TV) make all viewer data public for context around measurement, in 2017 social platforms will follow suit, expanding into a richer set of publicly accessible video metrics.
3. The Year of Audience Insights Marketers have subsisted heavily on engagement metrics since the inception of measuring social. Recently, platforms began rolling out deeper audience analytics and data signals so brands can see more information about their consumers. We’ll see this expand with features like Facebook's Audience Insights API becoming generally available in the first half of 2017.
4. Real-Time TV Comes To Digital In our increasingly post-linear world, TV will continue to entrench in streaming environments and digital publishers will move to the TV screen. Twitter and Facebook are (very smartly) snapping up rights to stream live sports content (both big league like NFL, and more niche like CONCACAF Champions League). These and other special events (Oscars, Election Night) are the last bastions of critical live viewing experiences advertisers LOVE. And while it becomes more and more challenging for networks to tell “live” stories, Twitter and Facebook have always lived in real time.
5. Social Will Drive IP, Casting, and More In the entertainment industry, studios and networks are continuing to find smart applications for social media data. One set to become more more commonplace in 2017: development execs using social data to guide casting and to develop new IP. Many are already harnessing this data to figure out what fans are responding to, understand how a particular actor/actress is resonating, validate a particular plot line, etc.
6. Third-Party Verification to the Rescue Measurement needs to be bulletproof for social to continue to chip away at legacy marketing budgets from TV, print, and other offline channels. We believe 2017 will be the year third-party measurement and verification goes from a nice-to-have to absolutely critical, employing industry-accepted methodologies and process to independently verify activity.
7. Brace Yourself for Social TV 3.0 Some background. Way back in 2010 at the onset of Social TV, the 1.0 world referred to viewers who were watching linear TV and engaging around that experience on apps like GetGlue.
Social TV 2.0 arose once engagement happened on the social platforms themselves.
We are now at the dawn of Social TV 3.0, where social platforms are both the source of the content AND the platform where this “socializing” occurs.
It may feel like a natural evolution, but no one is really talking about what this means for traditional linear distribution. The trend of viewers turning to Smart TV 3.0 will grow quickly, as viewers look to social TV for OTT options. Just like HBO Go and Hulu, there’s now a Twitter TV OTT app, and it wouldn’t surprise us to see one for Facebook one day, too.
Facebook pumped $50 million into “live” broadcasts with publishers on their platform. Think about that in TV terms: Facebook is the producer, or at least the executive producer (money, identifying talent to make the content), the distributor -- and, coming soon, the ad sales/monetization team. Do you think all this content is going to be “free” for everyone much longer? And we all know, where people watch “TV” is where big ad dollars follow.
8. Live Social Streaming Will Continue to Evolve While everyone--including us!-- makes predictions about the sea change in live social streaming, “live” streaming is subject to all the same challenges of linear TV. Who cares about “live” in a largely on-demand world, outside of sports and truly must-see-live content? (And don’t confuse that question with “who cares about streaming social video?" We’re all about that, and advertisers and platforms should be as well.)
But the most viewed “live” content is also viewed by a lot of people who are then watching it on-demand (sound familiar, TV industry friends)? Take Chewbacca Mom: While it is one of the most-viewed videos on Facebook (that was published on Facebook Live), when you peel back the layers of that story, you see that this by no means indicates the views were happening live. Just wait until the industry demands a Facebook Live+7 rating (that, of course, happens after Facebook starts monetizing all this, which is inevitable -- see prediction #8).
9. Brands Will Monetize Their Social Communities Branded content on social is on the rise, and we understand why: it’s one of the least-intrusive ways for brands to get their message across. Brands will further leverage their huge communities to make money through sponsorships, native advertising, and more.
Clearly, the fit between “advertising” brand and the “publishing” brand need to make sense, but these moves challenge the standard media and advertising paradigm of buying media. For example, look how Red Bull reaches its 46 million-plus Facebook fans with Red Bull TV productions. Facebook has already added icons that highlight when “owned posts” are sponsored, and under close scrutiny by the FTC, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter will all need to create features to better support this form of advertising. Once these practices are formalized, expect the social platforms to charge a toll, since brands are monetizing on the social platforms and their enormous user-bases.
10. MARKETING CLOUDS! BIG DATA! ALGORITHMS! MACHINE LEARNING! AI! (And everyone is still lost) While there are literally thousands of companies using some or all of these tactics to create new technology to help brands, human brain power is still needed to identify and unlock the highest value outputs of these technologies’ most valuable insights. These combined tech+human insights are especially critical to people at the most senior levels of organizations. Companies that come out on top in 2017 will seamlessly integrate both technology and services to help their customers harness data.