Before we charge forward into this new year with hope and vigor, I want to highlight three trends that I thought a lot about in 2019.
What Marketing Sounds Like
In the first few months of 2019, my primary focus was on voice recognition, voice-activated products, and the use of sound in marketing.
As we learned last year, podcasting crossed into the mainstream in 2019, with over 51% of Americans 12 and older saying that they have listened to at least one podcast in their lifetime, and 32% saying that they do so at least once a month.
More businesses also starting to think about sonic brand identity. This will become more important as more people start to use voice-activated products in their home, office, and on their commute to and from work.
It also has become apparent that voice search is gaining popularity. However, it seems like it is difficult to quantify how popular because there are many ways to use voice search (e.g., getting directions while driving, making a phone call, quickly checking the weather, searching for a business, etc.) that may or may not have been completed by searching on a traditional search engine now or in the past. Therefore, data will need to be aggregated from many different sources to calculate the exact percentage.
What we do know is that more people are using voice-activated technology to help them accomplish their tasks in their day-to-day lives.
Therefore, voice-activated technology should currently be on your radar. And, it definitely should be in your marketing toolbox in the next few years.
Algorithms Are the New Content Gatekeepers
It could possibly be the type of podcasts that I listen to or the types of books that I gravitate towards, but one issue that was brought up a lot last year by different people was how the algorithms used to find things when we do a search on Google or any of the other search engines are having a huge influence on what people see. The same is true for the content being uncovered on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
While the intent of these algorithms is to uncover the best content, what often happens is that the algorithms tend to uncover the content that gets the most clicks, shares, likes, or backlinks. The problems is that this content is not necessarily the most accurate. This leads to a lot of people believing false claims.
Last summer, I wrote a series of posts that explains this issue further.
If you want to learn more, I would also suggest that you read, “Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest,” by Zeynep Tufekci. While the book does deal with other issues, Dr. Tufecki does explore some of the most troubling issues with content discovery on digital platforms.
Doubling Down on Visual Design
When writing about voice search in May of 2019, I uncovered a quote from Andrew Ng, then Chief Scientist at Baidu, that was published in a 2014 Fast Company article. In the article, Ng is cited as saying that “in five years time at least 50% of all searches are going to be either through images or speech.”
Basically, he was making a case for the fact that written communication on the Internet is going to become less important, or at the very least, image and voice searches will become more important (if you think of it as a bigger pie rather than more of the current one.)
Therefore, search engines will need to adapt.
While his prediction might have been a little optimistic in its timeline, the prediction seems to be solid.
As mentioned, voice search is growing.
And, A.I. and machine learning technology are improving the accuracy of visual search.
If you are an active Pinterest user, then you are already familiar with visual search. Google and Bing also have expanded their visual search capabilities.
As Andrew Ng pointed out, voice and visual search will only gain more popularity over time.
However, I am bullish on visual design for more reasons than that.
Visual design has always been important. However, with the increased demand for our attention coming from so many different places, visual design will become even more important as time goes on.
You can communicate many things quickly with images. Brands that get this will benefit.
In 2019, I decided it was time to formally study this important area of marketing. So, I enrolled in a few classes at a local technical college and started my journey into learning more about graphic design.
That doesn’t mean this will become exclusively a graphic design blog. I still plan to use this as an outlet to explore many different areas of marketing communications.
And, I still believe that it is important to use the correct words when you write. Because, the written word will not be replaced entirely.
That said, I do think that brands that find ways to use sound and visual imagery effectively will lead the way.
Those that can use all the different forms of communication in one unified voice will really benefit.
If you do that, then the only issue left is finding a way to get found. Which brings us back algorithms.
More on that in future blog posts.
Photo credit: Skitterphoto on Pexels.com.