Digital Marketing Predictions For 2026

So the dust has settled and most digital marketing agencies are done churning out their predictions for 2016 blogs - What will this year bring? Will there be monumental changes to SEO? Could the social media landscape forever change with huge tectonic-like shifts? Will content still be king or will there be mass treason as it is demoted for more technical minions that impact the rankings? So many unanswered questions! 

Netleadz Hover Board - Read about our Digital Marketing Predictions for 2026

Technology is ever evolving; so we can never say never, but we see small changes for the foreseeable future, it is unlikely we’ll see a radicalisation of the industry. But where will Digital marketing be in the year 2026? For us at Netleadz, this is a much more interesting question. For example, if back to the future was anything to go by then the hover board feature on city mapper would be a legitimate travel method. Having said that, it was ‘Back to the future day’ not so long ago and there are no signs of kids on pink hover boards just yet. In truth, we perhaps don’t always advance as much as we predict. 

Realistically, there are unlikely to be monumental changes that revolutionise the whole Digital marketing universe. The most impacting factor on execution will be the introduction of new apps (if apps still exist), tools, devices and even channels. For us marketers the marketing technology will definitely govern the way we work. We can already see the way we work now has changed over the last few years. with the sheer volume of marketing technology at our disposal. The below graph from Scott Brinker of the Chief Marketing Technology Blog demonstrates how marketers use so much more technology now than ever before!

Despite the introduction of all the new tech and new tools, we don’t believe the whole digital ‘game’ as we know it will change. As previously alluded to, the changes will be significant but not radical and many of the same principles will exist in the next decade and perhaps even further.

So here are our Future predictions for what Digital Marketing will be like in 2026:

Digital marketing decisions become 100% customer centric 

One of the main changes, in our opinion, will be one of mind-set, due to the advances in tools and software. In 2026, it’s now all about the customer – marketer’s decisions are based 100% on customer centric value. This could be in the form of virtual customer experiences, hyper personalisation or perhaps utilising all 5 senses. No matter the execution method, maximum customer value will govern all marketing decisions. 

SEO backlinks a thing of the past

Google’s mission to be the best search engine it can continues. However, it’s so advanced many of the optimisation or SEO components are long dead. In fact, Search is not so much an algorithm but artificial intelligence, making a judgement on what content YOU want to consume. 
We predict some ranking factors will remain critical to SEO – relevancy and popularity will still play a part and brands will be required to produce higher quality, more relevant content to reach highly relevant communities. Younger or less popular brands may struggle to reach their audiences initially and paid media could prove a necessity. 
One thing is for sure, practices such as keyword research will become redundant as the need for this type of optimisation diminishes.  

Desktop devices are dead - Digital Marketing anytime, anywhere

Digital Marketing in 2026 - minority report style devices

Desktops are gone – We’re already seeing the importance of mobile responsive sites and we’re witnessing early adopters using tech such as curved screens, google glasses and virtual reality. In a decade do we really believe we will use desktop, computers, or even laptops? Minority report may be something closer or perhaps it will be fashion tech (watch Innovate UKs future predictions in fashion tech video), Nanotechnology or bio technology. Whatever the device we’re sure that content and data will be accessible anywhere; whether on the tube, hover board or travelling around in our driverless flying cars. 

Hyper targeting really is Hyper!

Desktop is dead – Meaning we are accessing whatever we want, whenever we want, wherever we want. Geo targeting and ultimately geo marketing will be the norm and far more advanced.  Not only that, but all marketing will be aimed at YOU. Utilising the googles of data that will be in existence, combined with the advancements in tech (especially wearable tech) and geo targeting, you’ll receive notifications at the correct moments, or before you even realise you need them. For example, you could receive special offers for local food establishments when YOU are hungry, without requesting them (not randomly to your email). 

Social Media will be better but not bigger

Social Media is 80% smaller… why? We sign in to our accounts using DNA, so it’s impossible to create fake profiles and the spam filters are so advanced that you no longer receive anything you don’t want (and things you do want never end up in your junk folders, in fact, will we even have junk folders?). Your Twitter follower number will be 100% Real – when someone claims to sell 100% Real followers it’s not loads of eggs. 
In fact, we predict that social becomes more exclusive. You will only be able to join if your fit the bill for that particular community. 

Social conversations will be actual conversations or animated / video streams

Stop typing, your keyboard is redundant! Social conversations will be actual conversations and everyone has their own avatar delivering their social updates. Plus, backgrounds and design will be all location based changing real time depending on your situation. 
Content may also be 5d producing much more immersive experiences in which you utilise all your senses.

Video & live streaming

YouTube is completely integrated into Google and video is one of the most important elements of a content strategy, especially as the algorithm is advanced enough to be able to rank videos based on recognition (not meta data or video optimisation). This shows a common theme that the reliance on the written word is almost non-existent. Video consumption will be at an all time high. Visual storytelling will be one of the most important communication methods, especially as periscope and meerkat are used by the masses.
This shift in consumption shatters some of the conventional marketing models. Brands will become more agile and creative and digital agencies more often than not will be morphed into one as ideas need to be seamlessly executed across all channels simultaneously.

Content is still king in the future

Yup, content is more important than ever, but we are already seeing more importance being placed on relevancy. This will continue and content will have to be of the highest standard and completely relevant to the user. Plus, click baiting will be a thing of the past as content only reaches those genuinely interested.

Transparency: Native Advertising, Branded Content and the loss of control  

Native advertising and branded content are already very powerful marketing options. Consumers are bombarded and often see straight through marketing attempts. As we become less tolerant of advertising and marketing most branded content will in fact come from the consumer - brands will have to reduce the amount of talking and use every available touch point as a catalyst for audience participation (we can already see this with feeds and comments). Of course brands have to relinquish the control. 
If organisations hope to keep any control it will need to be native and far less intrusive. Marketing messages, whatever the medium will need to fit into its natural interface and of course be fully transparent. 

PPC & Paid Media – 100% Conversion

Paid media now operates solely on a bidding metric as CPA, CPC and CPM are all the same thing. Targeting is so good that conversion rate is nearly perfect – Google works out when, where, what, how and who to reach seamlessly.  No more wastage, an impression always gets a click and nearly always converts. Businesses can market to a particular person instead of a group, at the correct time and place to make a sale... Great hey!? (We just don’t know how many Google dollars you will need to pay). 
Of course you may be thinking what if I want to build awareness – you will of course be able to pay for an awareness driven campaign when conversion is not a factor, but you can rest assured you are reaching the perfect audience. 

Augmented Reality direct to your glasses

Netleadz Digital Marketing Predictions for 2026 see Google Glasshole revolution

We don’t know whether we’ll all be walking round with chips in our brain; maybe, but more likely we embrace the ‘glasshole’ revolution. This is where augmented reality tools such as Blippar will come into their own. You won’t need to be told to use your device but the world around you will come alive as you navigate your surroundings. This will be a marketers dream. Real time, location based, rich marketing messages. 

And finally… will Digital Marketing be known as marketing? 

Most marketing nowadays is digital first nowadays, or at the very least it’s integrated. When was the last time you saw a good offline advertisement without some mention of a website, social media or hashtags? Well in the future these offline methods will either be virtual experiences or augmented, syncing up to your digital life. 

Alas, we can't use all of these futuristic techinicques today, but we can help you build your digital success story.

Pick up the phone or email us if you need help with your organisations search, social, content or any other part of your digital marketing strategy. 

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