Q. How is marketing going to evolve over the next ten years as a result of technological innovation?

A. The general technical trend will  continue to develop into a wider social trend:

  • Cable TV lost 48,000 subscribers in 2015. They’re on track to lose 600,000 in 2016. Cable is collapsing.
  • TV ads revenues are declining. People are discovering all of the possible ways to watch streaming video on digital devices. TV’s collapse will accelerate soon. In five years, it will be a disaster; in ten years, TV will be a minor market only for a few elderly who never tried digital.

Both TV and cable will reach a point where their revenues (ads or subscribers) won’t support the expensive distribution infrastructure, studios, directors, cameramen, editors, etc., plus of course the money that goes to ad agencies, etc.  Their costs are fixed but their revenue is declining.

Google/Facebook together earn more today in ad revenue than all of the thousands of TV/cable companies around the world. That gives G/FB monopoly leverage and vast amounts of cash to enter, take over, and dominate every possible ad platform in every possible market, incl. Africa.

  • The basic feature of a digital device is the freedom to choose. A digital device can do just about anything, which gives the user a remarkable range of choice.
  • The technical innovation is the development of smartphones. This created a shift from desktop to mobile.
  • Mobile added portability. It fits in your pocket.
  • Mobile is also very cheap. A refurbished smart phone is $7. Around two billion people are mobile-first and mobile-only.
  • Mobile pocket devices let you text with friends, Skype with family, make, share, and watch videos, buy things, order tickets, manage your money, send emails, check the weather, plan events, follow the news, read books, use maps, surf the web, check the time, listen to music, take, share, and look at photos, look at stars, use a magnifying glass to look at bugs, call a taxi, set a wakeup alarm, and of course, play games. Oh, and every once in a while, make phone calls.

If the TV companies were to try to offer the same, they would have to abandon the basic concept of TV (as in, advertising beamed at a captured audience). Does TV has a chance? No. TV died when the iPhone came out on January 9, 2007.

So how will mobile affect marketing? From the early 1950s to 2009, TV advertising was the center of marketing. TV ads worked because they allowed nationwide distribution of advertising to a large audience. But mobile is primarily personal. Yes, you can indeed use unfocused, broad advertising in mobile, but it’s wasteful. Personalized advertising (yes, to a single person) works better. Mobile will force marketing to evolve from mass marketing to personalized marketing.

This doesn’t include the reach of mobile. TV networks are country-based. For many reasons, a US TV network can’t enter South America, Japan, Kenya, etc. In contrast, mobile is global. A few months ago, I set up a client’s campaign in 42 languages and 130 countries. I can do that in a few days. It would take thousands of people at an ad agency to do the same for TV and the cost would be in the tens of millions. I seriously doubt any worldwide ad agency has ever done a global campaign at that scale.