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Marketing Predictions 2019: EDGE of the Web Weighs in

By Site Strategics
January 24, 2019

When Social Media Examiner author Lisa D. Jenkins pulled together 10+ Marketing Predictions for 2019 from Top Marketers, it was only natural for us to talk about it during EDGE of the Web Episode 296. After all, the list of contributors is like a who’s who of guests that have appeared on EDGE of the Web. EDGE hosts Erin Sparks (Site Strategics CEO) and Tom Brodbeck (Site Strategics Digital Media Director) weighed in, along with special guest Steve Woodruff of Clarity Fuel and author of Clarity Wins: Get Heard. Get Referred.

Smart Audio Requires Integration

This prediction comes from Mitch Joel, founder of Six Pixels Group. He says audio will play a bigger role with smart devices or home devices like Amazon’s Echo and others. Google Home expects to be in some crazy number of devices in the next year with their Google assistant. He also mentions how 84% of Amazon Echo users are satisfied and 28% of smart speaker owners make purchases using them. Amazon’s smart speakers have reached 15% of US homes and more than a billion devices provide voice assistant access today.

  • Steve Woodruff: This is a no-brainer in terms of voice-activated computing being on the rise, but who knew the smart speaker would be the vehicle that gets it into homes?
  • Erin Sparks: The win for digital marketers in companies far and wide are the listening tools of these speakers that can then turn into programmatic changes in your marketing. Smart speakers will lead to smarter marketing.
  • Tom Brodbeck: Yes, and that smarter marketing is the point of the next prediction as well.

First-Party Data Acquisition Takes Precedence

The next prediction comes from Robert Rose, Founder of The Content Advisory. He’s bullish about data acquisition in the service of building audiences. Three key trends affecting content, social and digital marketing include the continued rise of automation and artificial intelligence, the need to strategically scale content-oriented operations, and the continued increase in the importance of content marketing and the acquisition of first-party data alongside GDPR and other privacy laws/regulations.

  • Erin Sparks: Data breaches keep making the headlines, first with Facebook then Google+ with two huge breaches, prompting the company to accelerate the shutdown of Google+ by four months.
  • Steve Woodruff: These companies have access to all this aggregated data from the phones that are pinging wherever you are, and the ability to track exactly where people were, exactly how long they were there, even if certain apps weren’t active. It’s kind of frightening to see how granular that information is.

Individuals Reclaim Their Social Independence

Seth Godin predicts that as people increasingly focus on their social media standing they will come to realize they’ve become mere pawns in a system that views them as a product, not a customer. This realization will hopefully get people to return to the original point of social media – seeing and being seen by the people who matter to them.

  • Erin Sparks: I’ve been dying to hear the pendulum swinging back, and that status updates are not the focus as soon as you wake up in the morning.
  • Steve Woodruff: I think that the pendulum is going to swing significantly. With all the incredible amount of noise, and all the digital nonsense going on, all of us know that the way business happens is through person-to-person recommendations and referrals.

Brands Must Return Social to Social Media

Another social media prediction comes from Mark Schaefer, author of the hugely popular marketing blog called {grow}. He begins with the litany of woes about where social media has been: Broadcast and content instead of conversations, becoming an IT function so automated it’s soulless, humans with personalities and names replaced by corporate personas and branded voices, success measured in clicks rather than in relationship and loyalty, and a place to weaponize influencers. The shift in 2019 will be towards providing relevant human connections, forming reliable and trustworthy communication channels, expressing shared ideas, displaying human emotions, creating unique entertaining experiences and so on.

  • Erin Sparks: Schaefer hit the nail on the head with this one. Everyone is doing the lowest common denominator approach, so the trick is to cut through that noise and find the place where authenticity is the cornerstone of marketing.
  • Steve Woodruff: Mark and I agree that there is a marketing rebellion on the horizon where the human aspects of marketing are really going to come back to the surface. And I can’t wait to see the rebellion happen.

Consumers Flock to Passive YouTube-Type Experiences

Michael Stelzner, CEO and founder of Social Media Examiner, joins the fray with his prediction that consumers who are weary of the toxic interactions in many of the platforms will shift towards a more passive experiences that entertain, inform and education. This means people who need a break from all the interactivity will do more reading of articles, listening to podcasts and watching videos on YouTube. Facebook will become more of the occasional “drive-by” experience.

  • Erin Sparks: This is a very apropos perspective. People are getting burned out on all the interaction that’s expected.
  • Tom Brodbeck: I’m actually on a 21-day fast from social media because I want to spend more time with my family and read more books. It’s amazing what you can do when you’re not reading social media – all these things you can do.

Brands Lean into Controversy

Jay Baer, marketing guru and best-selling author, predicts more brands will embrace controversy. He cites examples such as REI closing its doors on Black Friday and instead encouraging consumers to spend time in the outdoors, Nike supporting Colin Kaepernick in the fight against police brutality, and Salesforce taking a stand in favor taxing businesses to address San Francisco’s homelessness problem.

  • Erin Sparks: Companies are realizing there is value in taking bold stands on issues that tie into their mission and values in a way companies shied away from before. But there’s a big risk here in alienating a bunch of customers as soon as a stand is taken.
  • Steve Woodruff: It has to tie into their existing value system and mission. If it’s just a stunt to make noise, to create controversy for the sake of controversy, it’s not going to fly. There will be people who love a company those who hate it, so you might as well take a stand. I do think the companies doing this are being smart and going into because they believe there is more to gain than lose. We’ll see what results they actually get.
  • Tom Brodbeck: I’m not interested in feeling like I have to second-guess every purchase I make in terms of what political message others are going to read into it.

LinkedIn Gains Prominence and Growth

Thought leader Susan Beebe thinks 2019 is going to be LinkedIn’s breakout year. The professional nature of the site means fewer toxic interactions in favor of higher-quality conversations. This makes for a good place to grow brands.

  • Erin Sparks: As Facebook continues to be plagued with data concerns, people are paying more attention to other platforms, including marketers, and LinkedIn is experiencing robust growth.
  • Tom Brodbeck: I’m sick of connecting with people on LinkedIn and then immediately getting some kind of sales pitch from them.
  • Steve Woodruff: I do agree with Susan on this one, at least for a certain set of companies whose customers are primarily professional white collar corporate-types. Investing marketing dollars into LinkedIn can be a very smart move for some companies. Yes, there are spammers, but over time LinkedIn has proven itself increasingly useful to some companies.

Predictions Direct from the EDGE of the Web

Here are the personal predictions offered up by Erin, Tom and Steve for marketing in 2019:

  • Erin Sparks: The rise of micro-social networking platforms. People will begin gravitating to these smaller platforms that are more about authentic connections than mass marketing messages. The relationships people have will be more intimate and with fewer people in these platforms, but more meaningful.
  • Tom Brodbeck: Yelp will be purchased. Because of all the aggregated data accessible through the rise of smart speakers, one of those companies such as Google or Amazon is going to buy Yelp.
  • Steve Woodruff: Privacy will continue to be a concern. People are going to increasingly rely on companies with the technical clout (Google, AWS, IBM) to fight off the bad guys. It’s described as white hats versus black hats – but how white are the white hats? Can we really trust the giants to do the right thing?


What do you think of these predictions? We know you have your own opinions and prognostications, so share them with us and the rest of Edge Nation!