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It’s that time of the year again. Adobe Summit is in full swing in Las Vegas.
And for the fourth year in a row, Constellation Research founder Ray Wang and Adobe Experience Index principal analyst Tamara Gaffney took to the stage to talk about the top trends experience makers can expect over the next year. Their predictions are based on a survey of 1,000 people in the United States.
Prediction 1: Marketing budgets will get windfall as a result of extra tax-plan cash flow.
“Watch for advertising growth, and as demand outpaces supply, the ad costs for premium, targeted, digital media will go up again,” Gaffney told attendees.
According to Wang, between $350 billion to $400 billion will be coming back to North America because of the newly introduced tax bill. “We will see some M&A activity, and boards are going to be asking their CXOs what they plan to do to build the business,” he said.
Prediction 2: Awareness of cryptocurrency will pave the way for blockchain-based trusted commerce.
Less than 5% of the U.S. population is unaware of bitcoin and cryptocurrency, according to the study, conducted just days prior to Adobe Summit. Sentiment on the new technology is split evenly, and awareness is expected to pave the way for faster adoption of blockchain.
Already, 52% of companies are starting to think about blockchain, and 9% of early adopters have a blockchain running in some sort of business model. Wang shared the example of Singapore Airlines, which is using a blockchain mechanism for its frequent flyer points program.
Prediction 3: Disconnection from different opinions will create “social echo chambers” that intensify debates and discourage diversity of thought.
The study asked participants whether they have ever disconnected or unfriended someone on social media. The vast majority have, with just 13.4% saying they have never done so.
“Many people said they’ve unfriended someone because they were sharing fake news or perpetuating false information,” Gaffney said.
Wang said he expects people will begin building echo chambers on social media, where they only hear from the people they want to hear from. “If we are all living in our own bubbles and hearing from just the people who share our same opinions—oh, my,” he said.
Additionally, as consumers lose trust in their friends and family, will traditional ratings, such as the Zagat for restaurants, come back to fruition? Yes, according to Wang, who believes we will see a move back to trusted sources as Americans battle for the truth.
Prediction 4: Automation will re-level the workforce as consumer demand for personalized services increase.
Despite talk about automation reducing the need for human workers, human capital, Gaffney said, always will be necessary.
“When looking at automation, things that are low-complexity but rogue work and things that are super high-complexity will likely be automated,” she said. “But humans will still be needed to use the tools to come up with the creativity for, say, data analysis. Those parts aren’t meant to be automated.”
If you’re wondering what will and won’t be automated, think about what humans are really good at versus what machines are really good at.
Consider, for example, Captain Sully, who landed a plane on the Hudson River, Gaffney said. He was actually 30 seconds late in terms of beginning his descent, but he saved everyone because he had something machines don’t have: experience, intuition, human ingenuity—and the ability to break the rules.
“If we let the machines do everything, we will lose the intuition,” Wang added.
Prediction 5: Despite the persistence of dystopian imagery, positive sentiment will hasten adoption of automation.
Survey respondents were asked about the future of AI and automation. The key finding was that while people want personalization (78%), that personalized service doesn’t need to have a human on the other end of it.
Generally speaking, however, 53% of individuals would rather have interactions with a human vs. a computer.
“Essentially, there needs to be a value exchange,” Wang said. “Orchestration of trust happens when you get it right. That’s what every AI-driven smart service is going to do, and it is going to get smarter over time.”
Prediction 6: VR entertainment will heat up quickly.
Survey respondents were asked whether they have tried virtual reality (VR) goggles. Over 50% of 18- to 24-year-olds, 54% of 25- to 34-year-olds, 41% of 35- to 49-year-olds, 21% of 50- to 64-year-olds, and 11% of those 65 and older have done so.
Gaffney said she expects consumer demand for VR experiences will be higher and faster than expected.
Prediction 7: Traditional media will stabilize for a while.
According to both presenters, increases in ad spending might bolster traditional media for a bit, but Gaffney said she sees a possibility to achieve mass reach in digital video.
It will all come down to how many people are still subscribing to cable, Wang added. According to the survey, 50% of consumers in all age groups no longer do. Instead, they are using services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Sling.
“Digital video brings an opportunity for mass scale,” Gaffney said.
Prediction 8: Podcasts take the stage.
Companies should look for methods to provide thought leadership or sponsorship opportunities via podcasts, which have the potential to build brand awareness, Gaffney said.
If China is any indication, podcasts could also become a paid-for-media for marketers.
Prediction 9: Influenced media will demand respect.
“Lame influencer media attempts will not make the cut,” Gaffney told attendees. “Influencers need to be treated as partners.”
Wang advised marketers to think about influenced media differently. Their influencer partnerships need to be authentic.
“When they lose authenticity, they lose trust, and people see right through it,” Wang said. “And you want to make sure you are not partnering with an influencer that doesn’t align well with your brand.”
Prediction 10: Experiences will either be your faucet or your drain.
“Delightful experience are imperative but not at the expense of covering all the basics,” Gaffney said.
When asked about how delightful their brands experiences are, survey respondents pointed out an area where they think companies are lacking: speaking in one voice.
“Everything about your brand has to be reflected across all of the touch points,” Wang said. “There needs to be that level of brand consistency.”