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IoT Revolution Leads ‘Back To The Future’ Day Digital Scorecard

1989 was the year of the first movie that I ever remember attending. I was six years old. My parents piled six kids into the station wagon and drove down to the Trolley North movie theatre. We got some popcorn and candy, piled coats on the seat so that I could be tall enough to see over the people in front of me, and settled in to watch “Back to the Future 2,” a classic that grossed $322 million globally.

In the movie, Marty McFly and Doc travel forward in time to October 21, 2015. They see all kinds of things that weren’t very believable in 1989 like flat screen televisions, video conferencing, hoverboards, and even the Cubs winning the World Series. In an ever-changing digital world, how close have we come to matching the predictions made nearly three decades ago? For my latest analysis for Adobe Digital Index I used Adobe Social to analyze over 100 million social engagements (mentions, page likes, twitter followers) across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, G+, Tumblr and others to produce a digital scorecard for where we are now compared to where we were.

Internet of things: The movie was full of IoT devices from smart home automation to auto adjustable clothing. The IoT revolution, and some of the key products it has spawned, in the actual 2015 have had over 5 million + social mentions in the last 90 days. This brings up a whole new set of data for marketers to track and understand how to best serve customers ads on watches or refrigerators.

This is something that consumers love. Sixty percent of IoT devices producing recent social mentions related to joy, admiration, or anticipation. No doubt this revolution will continue to boom and marketers need to stay ahead of the curve to understand how best to serve this growing population.

Video conferencing and flat screen televisions: In the movie, Marty McFly has several conversations through video conferencing on his flat screen television. We also see Marty McFly Jr. watching six different channels on the family’s flat screen. The movie nailed both of these.

Skype, possibly one of the largest video chat apps, had 7 million social mentions since June and had 300 million users in June 2013. It was also the glue that held my team together in business school during late night, cross-country study sessions.

4K TVs are widely available for under $1000 and the average size at the most recent CES show was 63 inches. Sony and Samsun lead the social chatter with over 2 million mentions since June.

Virtual reality: Instead of the family sitting around the dinner table looking at tablets, phones, and laptops like in today’s world, “Back To The Future” shows characters using virtual reality glasses. Microsoft, Facebook, HTC, and Sony are all set to release virtual reality devices in the coming months, but we are sometime away from mass adoption. Virtual reality may be the next mobile device to include in a marketing plan and will provide another screen to access consumers.

Hoverboards: This easily has to be the one that I loved the most as a kid. In the movie, the hoverboard is made by Mattel and shows wide distribution of the technology. Today, hoverboards are available for upwards of $10,000. Tony Hawk riding a Hendo Hoverboard currently has 13 million + views on YouTube. The B grade may seem a little high, but the word hoverboard, itself, has been mentioned 4,000 times a day, on average, on social media. I have also seen pseudo hoverboards all over the news recently, with a huge boost in August mentions when rapper Wiz Khalifa was detained in the airport for using a hover board on wheels which was also recently banned on roads and sidewalks in London.

Fax Machines: In the movie, fax machines are located throughout the McFly house. We still reluctantly use fax machines, but in the real 2015 we’re all about email. In a recent email survey from Adobe Digital Index, 9 out of 10 people frequently check their email with 88% of millennials using their smartphones. We live in a mobile and content heavy world where millennials rely heavily on the effectiveness and range that email provides.

Chicago Cubs World Series Champs?: The Cubs and the World Series have over 60k mentions in the last 30 days. If the Cubs end up winning it all in 2015, the grade would obviously be an A+ and possibly prove time travels existence and the use of Grey’s sports almanac from the movie.

Extra Credit: The word “McFly”, used to sarcasically describe a mistake, has been successfully used over 300k times since June 1st.

There are a few other things I tracked but didn’t include. Some of these include Jaws 19, Coke vs. Pepsi, Mr Fusion-fuelded cars. However, overall I feel that we are on pace for at least a B+ average compared to the predictions made.

We live in a digital age where you can reach a consumer on a phone, VR goggles, watch, tv, computer and even fridge. It’s an amazing time to be a consumer and a marketer. We just need to make sure that we stay ahead of the curve and always preparing for 26 years from now, where hopefully we won’t still be using fax machines.

In a world where digital marketing spend has surpassed that of television, my focus and takes on emerging digital trends in social mobile and video will help to stay ahead of the current trends.

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Joe Martin

Joe Martin

Dad, Husband, and reformed ski bum. VP of Content and Digital Scorpion, Former CMO of CloudApp and Marketing Lead for Adobe.

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