Trend prediction isn’t that easy. Everyone does it at the end of a year (along with the slew of look-back and best-of posts), and usually the lists are kept generic enough to mostly be right 12 months later. (Hey, just being honest.)

We’re going to try and do 2017 mobile trends in this post, and there’s a chance we’ll hit on a few of them — but look at 2016. Would anyone in December 2015 have predicted the success of Pokemon Go, or how quickly it would spur mobile marketers to consider augmented reality options? AR headset shipments are now expected to reach 15M by 2020, and that number might be significantly lower if an app game hadn’t exploded the way it did. Most people had probably last thought of Pokemon in the late 1990s, so trendspotting largely missed that one. And now, caveats in place: 2017 mobile trends.

Games, Games, Games

The mobile app market is going to grow to $189 billion by 2020, which is a 270% growth rate. Games will account for 55% of that industry total. (Interestingly, venture capitalists are now encouraging startup founders to think in terms of Legos, so we might be in the middle of a revolution centered around supposedly childish things.) In-app advertising is outpacing app stores, and will continue to do so; it’s supposed to account for 62 percent of all app revenue by 2020. Addictive games with upgrade options will drive most of this revenue stream, and you’ll increasingly see this in-app this year.

The Rise of Omnichannel

This is an interesting space. 78 percent of consumers are willing to allow retailers to use information from in-store purchases for a more customized experience. That’s good news for mobile marketers, right? Right. But: while 83 percent of marketers list data-driven decision-making as crucial, only 10 percent believe their organization is good at it yet. We’ve been discussing “big data” for years now, and one facet of 2017 mobile trends to watch might be this: marketers will increasingly understand that you don’t necessarily need “big” (read: a lot) data, you need the right data. As they organize processes around that idea, their mobile marketing insights will become more effective. 53 percent of consumers want to be recognized as the same person across all shopping channels, so ideally, better insights will lead to better omnichannel campaigns.

More and More Geofencing

You’ve probably heard about geofencing by now. If you haven’t, you will by the end (beginning?) of 2017. (Especially if you continue to read this blog.) Because your phone has your location info (unless you opt out of that feature), businesses can set up geofences and target messages to you when you enter or exit a specific area. This has become very popular at trade shows (while there, you might only see ads for 1 or 2 vendors) and in retail. If you enter a geofenced store, you may receive different in-app offers than you would accessing the app from home or another location. Geofencing has become essential to most mobile and experience-driven marketers over the last few years; that will only continue in 2017.


The San Francisco 49ers used geofencing to drive engagement during games in 2016.

Mobile-Only Social

This has been on the rise for years, but in 2016, the hottest social network was likely Snapchat (mobile-only). Facebook’s biggest product rollout was likely FB Live (mobile-only). Instagram (mobile-only) has become a cash cow for Facebook. There are expected to be over 6.2 billion mobile devices on the planet by 2020; as more and more people come online via mobile, social networks rooted on mobile will continue to grow.


You can argue this was a 2016 trend, and we addressed chatbots often this year. Their use will only continue to grow, however: 80 percent of businesses want chatbots by 2020.

Better App Strategy

There are some head-spinners every year, usually around companies creating an app when they have no real reason to create that app. Ideally, some of the above — better targeting, better data, better insights, more consistent appreciation of who the customer is regardless of device — will drive better strategic thinking for all of us in the mobile marketing world. That’s what we wish everyone in 2017, at least!

What do you predict will be the major mobile marketing trend of 2017?