Digital Trends and Predictions in 2017 for DMOs
We’re highlighting overarching trends and predictions for 2017 curated from multiple conversations with DMOs, agencies, online marketing experts, and published reports with a view to helping digital tourism marketers in the eTourism Community.
Some trends now sound like clichés — but they’re still terribly relevant — and they’re maturing, not going away.
First, a broad statement about each trend, followed by several additional comments for each, some action points, and finally some crystal ball stuff. Comments welcome.
1) Mobile, mobile, mobile.
It’s been decided; Google is prioritizing mobile over desktop. Besides, it’s not only Google; your customers demand it. So if your mobile site isn’t already in fast-loading, tip-top shape, you’re simply not in the game.
- Desktop use will continue to fade in favor of mobile ads gaining spend.
- GPS-based SEO will overtake keywords, as mobile dominates search.
- The evolution of digital ads that can get around ad blockers via video and native advertising.
- Voice search is growing. (Some ask what this means for the evolution of machine learning for long tail keywords and how Google will protect its own PPC revenue.)
- Google’s mobile-only index will change search in 2017.
- Google will start penalizing sites that use pop-ups.
- Stop everything and implement AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages).
2) Content is king, and…
It’s now the 4th wave of Content Marketing, because everybody’s been talking about this for 3 years. SEO has changed; much of Page 1 on Google are paid ads or Google’s own services. You won’t get any organic reach without audience sharing, so generate visually stimulating and emotionally appealing content to have any impact — everybody else is!
- As social media platforms focus on sponsorships and advertising, the differences between ads and unsponsored messages get increasingly harder to distinguish.
- Facebook will carve out policy re: newsfeed and fake news so as not to risk turning off users who could abandon ship. Mainline establishment news networks will continue to lose ground in the battle with organic citizen journalism and fake news.
- The next wave for user generated content (UGC) is coming, to include social media posts, reviews, Q&A’s and quizzes. The ability to algorithmically organize UGC for SEO will influence conversions.
3)…Video is super-king.
If a picture is worth 1,000 words, how many words is a minute of video worth?
(Credit: Brand USA)
- Visuals are a key priority across all content mediums.
- Social media now is all about video sharing.
- Storytelling is the key to sharing.
- Live video is critical for engagement and conversation.
- VR and 360-degree are currently the bright, shiny new objects used by news media companies; the mini-documentary is the storytelling form of choice.
- Video creation needs to be professional AND authentic.
- Rich video storytelling is exploding on every social platform; make haste while it is still free.
- Video distribution continues to be a challenge and involves finding affordable partners with suitable audiences.
(Credit: Smart Insights)
Cognitive insights derived from advanced analytics will help marketers target, better understand personal profiles, and to predict digital behavior. What’s more, highly targeted and individualized content is one way to get around ad blockers.
- Understanding Snapchat advertising for travel will become the newest frontier.
- The purpose of DMO (home page) websites shifts to referral targeted content, directing audience to deeper dives into specific aspects of their journey through the sales funnel.
- Omnichannel and multichannel attribution will continue to underscore integrated marketing strategies and 1-to-1 conversations between brands and purchasers.
5) The great (or not so great) user experience.
The cliché about people with attention spans shorter than that of a goldfish…The importance of a positive and engaging user experience, without which you cannot get past the 3-second mark, cannot be exaggerated.
- Virtual Reality and 360-degree video will move closer to mainstream due to an abundance of manufacturers. DMOs will be learning how to tell stories using VR tools.
- Immersive user experiences will include live video, 360-degree video, augmented reality and virtual reality.
- Marketing automation systems will perpetuate the feeling of bad customer service as it moves ahead more quickly than people expect.
- It’s only a matter of time before a destination launches their own 24-hour channel, complete with ads, on Apple TV.
6) AI, AR, chatbots.
Expect the second iteration of AI, AR, and chatbots in 2017.
- DMOs starting to use chatbots as Text Visitor Centers. Attractions can use chatbots for customer service.
- Augmented reality — seeing the real thing and getting more information to understand what travelers respond to — will grow into an important tool during travel’s inspiration stage.
7) Niche data.
Big data, experiencing a “Trough of Disillusionment,” is giving way to niche data.
- Even brands who scale big now complain about the unprecedented torrent of expensive data and that insights it offers are not always relevant or useful.*
- Finding and isolating the data that’s most relevant is a growing field for solution providers.
Return on investment is of continued and growing importance to the C-Suite. In a word, budgets.
(Credit: Hotel du Vin, flickr)
- CMOs, COOs, and CEOs will continue to demand hard conversion metrics that can be effectively communicated in the boardroom.
- As the approach to Content Marketing becomes more and more strategic, and as cost and competition increase, measurement is increasingly important.
- In the DMO world, a subtle war is brewing among ROI solution providers as more and more companies develop cross-device attribution programs.
- Many marketers will move away from programmatic platforms and from networks where the media in which their ads will be shown is unknown.
9) Crystal ball, predictions & other big picture stuff.
- Younger audiences continue the evolution from e-commerce (internet-based) to m-commerce (mobile and geo-based) to v-commerce (voice-activated). Voice activated travel purchasing will debut via Expedia’s ability to book using Amazon’s Alexa.
- Global cyber security attacks continue to rise, digital marketers will struggle with keeping consumer data safe.
- We’ll all be watching to see how neo-isolationism driven by populist candidates winning elections around the world may produce a direct effect on international tourism.
- Disruption: Hotels and DMOs will view Airbnb and Uber as both enemy and “frenemy,” depending on their hotel capacity.**
- Augmented reality space will explode (again)…and how. It will be adapted by marketers in ways we haven’t yet imagined. Think Pokémon Go and beyond.
- Internet of Things and wearables is growing; how will Amazon Echo / Google Home / Apple Home impact e-commerce in 2017?
- Traditional P.R. functions, including influencer partnerships, will go away within 5 years, as the role which is inextricably linked to social media, SEO and content marketing functions is fully integrated. Co-marketing and partnerships overall will gain.
- More DMOs will serve as social media marketing agencies for local attractions, conventions and events.
Have we missed anything? Comments welcome.
** Examples: Airbnb hosts are using hotel services and sites to assemble meetings. Airbnb already sells vast number of independent hotels and hotels are looking to become evening pick up points for deliveries aimed at Airbnb guests hosted nearby.