1. The drones are coming

The stories of last year that were most annoying (to me) were Amazon’s Prime Air (the first autonomous drone delivery was apparently made on December 7) and Just Eat’s Delivery Bots (which debuted in December, too – see the video below).

I’m not an opponent of innovation, but both drone and bot delivery have a long way to go from private and restricted trials to a full roll out – what if somebody wants their curry delivered up a flight of stairs?

The media loves a drone story, but in the competitive takeaway market, consumers just want their food hot, punctual and easy to order. Drones are PR and a distraction.

2. Social media is very important

Of course social media is important, particularly in customer service, and increasingly for advertisers.

However, as Mark Ritson is so fond of pointing out, the impact of social media can be overblown. The social advertising boom is testament to low interaction rates with brand organic content on social (though this is arguably a chicken and egg scenario).

Facebook ad clickthrough rates are at around 1% globally, compared to around 30% for the top Google position. Yes, the costs and the uses are different, but the comparison is a stark one.

11.7% of marketing budgets is spent on social media, but with the price of engaging formats like Snapchat Lenses prohibitive, more people are starting to emphasise the value of media that may have been prematurely written off (e.g. cinema and radio).

3. Connected devices are cool

Connected devices are not cool per se. The fact that something is connected to the internet means nothing independent of any function.

I thought 2015 was the year when people realised that startups like Vessyl were absurd, but last year they continued to launch, and from big brands, too.

In early 2016, Brita launched a smart water filter in partnership with Amazon Dash. The filter is WiFi enabled and orders a replacement when needed.

Is this consumer friendly? At face value, for the lazy and the rich, perhaps. But just read the comments on the Engadget coverage and you soon realise improving the customer experience is not something that can be done on a whim.

4. Online advertising is all about targeting

Targeting of digital advertising is not to be scoffed at. Political campaigning, for example, is being revolutionised with the ability to test campaign messaging on specific demographics using social media.

Retargeting still works well for retailers, across traditional display and social media, and segmentation is a fundamental principle of marketing.

However, the idea that marketers can reduce wasted spend by getting ever better at finding receptive customers and then having one-to-one ‘conversations’ with them is a dangerous one.

The main reasons I can think of are fourfold:

  • a focus on micro-targeting belies an advertiser’s creative output (can you produce enough creative?)
  • as Ad Contrarian has previously pointed out, truly great creative is more often about ‘big picture’ marketing
  • consumers are, of course, more complex creatures than even Facebook’s psychographics can summise
  • behavioural targeting is still error strewn (notably, cross-device targeting)

5. Users want chatbots

They don’t. At least not the ones that have been offered so far.

As Dan Grover points out, there are some interesting possibilities for using chatbots for functions that don’t have satisfactory online workflows already (such as booking a dentist appointment or paying rent).

However, most bots are being created by app developers who simply want to experiment, and this leads to pointless implementations. Ordering a pizza or reading the news is not easier by chatbot, it is easier by app.

6. VR, VR, VR!

There are plenty of options on the market for those wanting to invest in a VR headset. However, content is still lacking and the majority of the public remains unaware of whether VR is any good.

We’ve listed some examples of VR used in marketing, mainly for PR, on the Econsultancy blog. It will be a little while before VR is adopted as a gaming platform, with broader UX further off, still.

As Will Grant and Steffan Aquarone write, “impressive as the latest experiences are, a serious technological leap is needed before designing experiences for VR becomes a mainstream part of most organisations’ product strategies.”

7. Content is king

It can be. But it’s mostly clutter. The more it mounts up, the more important it is that brands take their heads out of the sand.


I think I’ve barely touched the surface here. Which fallacies (I’m not using the strictest definition of the word) will you call out in 2017?