As we welcome in the 2020s, experts from global digital partner and training provider Jellyfish share their predictions for what the next ten years hold for the digital marketing industry.

1. There’ll be improved integration between search and social

The rise of social media-style search initiatives like Google Discover – which serves users personalised content in a news feed – is just a sign of things to come. That’s according to Social Media Trainer Kineta Kelsall. She predicts “in the next few years, there’ll be a targeting option within social ad platforms that lets you serve ads based on what users have searched for in Google. This will take us one more step towards synergy between search and social strategies, which is where I hope we can eventually get to.”

2. We’ll see the rise of wearable tech as an ad platform

Digital Marketing Trainer Niki Grant believes that in the next decade, there will be more to fitness gadgets than just keeping their wearers active. “It’s a space we’re not using to its fullest extent yet as an industry, but I think we’re going to see real ad content opportunities in wearable tech. I can see brands like Fitbit cashing in on this in the next few years.”

3. Automation will be king

Move over, content – there’s a new digital marketing royal arriving in the next few years. As Programmatic & Google Marketing Platform Trainer Marita Fullinck explains “we’re going to see planning reach new heights of creativity, thanks to automation tools that will supercharge media buying. Ultimately, I think machine learning advancements are going to fuel our digital strategies in the future.”

Kineta agrees. “Access to more data will mean automation and machine learning will become increasingly sophisticated, allowing marketers to focus less on manual tasks like ad buying and more on creative strategy.”

4. Content accessibility will be key

All public sector native apps must comply with WCAG 2.1 accessibility requirements by June 2021. But as Content Marketing Trainer Heidi Swigon explains “the private sector is also coming under scrutiny in this area, with legal action against brands and organisations who fail to provide a fully accessible site becoming more frequent. I think this will result in a positive move towards a more inclusive web for all.” 

5. Augmented reality will become mainstream

It’s not a new topic, but Kineta believes that in the next decade, every digital touchpoint will provide some kind of immersive AR-based experience and static content will be no more. “Very soon, consumers will be able to experience holiday destinations before they book and virtually try on a wardrobe’s worth of clothes in their size from the comfort of their own homes – regardless of where they shop.”

6. Cultivating social communities will move up the agenda 

In a world where consumers are becoming increasingly interested in having a two-way conversation with brands – as opposed to simply being marketed at – social communities are fast becoming the holy grail.

Kineta explains, “as users seek a more authentic, trustworthy online experience, community will become a greater focus in the next few years. From stories and local deals to experiences and events, brands will need to think carefully about their organic and paid local strategies if they want to maximise the opportunities here.”

7. More brand interactions will happen off-site

“The biggest change we’re likely to see in search is that more customers will engage with brands directly in Google, rather than on their own sites.” That’s according to SEO Trainer Chris Hutty.

As he explains, “already, around 50% all searches result in no clicks away from Google, as an increasing number of user queries are answered directly by features like position zero and voice responses. I think the next step will be to enable users to complete transactions without leaving the Google interface.”

8. Voice search will come into its own

Speaking of voice responses… they’ve slowly made their way into our homes (and our lives) but how will voice search devices shape the way we market in the future? Creative & Development Trainer Dan Wright believes voice search strategies are going to move beyond just SEO. “Brands like Adobe are starting to integrate voice-controlled actions into their products, so I think there’s going to be a huge amount of work for our industry to design, develop and implement these interactions.”

Niki predicts we’ll be seeing more from voice search devices in the ad space in the future, too. As she explains, “we aren’t hearing audio ads on digital assistants at the moment, but I don’t think it will be long before brands like Amazon are running ads against voice-triggered media.”

9. How brands think and work will evolve

Marita thinks we’re going to experience some changes over the next few years in how businesses operate. As she explains, “we’re going to see real-life David and Goliath stories play out, as advances in technology allow smaller independent brands to gain the strength needed to challenge the status quo and become a threat to media and tech giants.”

She also predicts we’ll see a shift away from traditional agency/client relationships. “Agencies will no longer be considered a second party, but a partner who lives, breathes and aligns with its client’s business goals.”

Tobias Matthews

Tobias Matthews


Writer at Fourth Source.