Deloitte predicts that the social commerce market will exceed $1 trillion next year, thanks to more than two billion people using online social platforms for shopping – and it's a market that's growing faster than traditional e-commerce.
A significant contributor to this growth is the success of social media influencers and their ability to get people to spend money, especially Gen Z consumers. As Deloitte notes, Gen Z is the world's biggest generational cohort, accounting for more than 30% of the population worldwide. The consultant says most of this burgeoning generation of digital natives tends to be "all social, all online, all the time".
The report notes: "In the future, Gen Zs are expected to continue to be very much online, where they'll continue to get hypertargeted and personalized ads for products they want and need – straight from the influencers they already know and love."
Jana Arbanas, vice chair of Deloitte's telecom, media, and entertainment sector, says the combination of influencers, algorithms and Gen Z's propensity to buy items online all contributes to the digital-shopping boom.
She says companies investing in marketing via influencers enjoy cheaper campaigns, targeted advertising and increased sales. Arbanas believes that brands can use the algorithms' knowledge of what's relevant to buyers to sell more products more effectively.
"Brands can absolutely leverage those algorithms; algorithms that know consumers and their interests and their needs, and ensure that brands are matched with complementary interests with respect to consumers," she told ZDNET.
Historically, advertisers had to craft ad campaigns for a broad range of consumers, and those campaigns could be expensive to execute. But with the help of an influencer promoting a product to their hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers, ad campaigns are cheaper – and they're more specific.
"In the old days, people were investing in really expensive, highly produced advertising. It's not very nimble, and it was very generalized for a large population," Arbanas says. "On the converse now, with social media, you can very quickly create a series of campaigns in a matter of moments. And you don't even have to create the content; your influencer is doing that on your behalf."
Deloitte predicts the features pioneered by social media will soon be found elsewhere: "Looking beyond 2023, most digital experiences are expected to be considered 'shoppable', and the same tap-to-purchase behavior available on social media platforms will likely be possible with other online services, too," it says, such as perhaps being able to watch a cooking show on streaming services and then have the ingredients added to your shopping cart.
Low-Earth orbit satellites bring down broadband costs
Deloitte predicts by the end of next year that there will be over 5,000 low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites in the sky, and they'll be responsible for providing almost one million people with internet – even in the most remote parts of the world.
Satellite broadband connects with a dish – be that on top of your house, RV, or, soon, boat or plane – as it orbits in the sky and sends the internet signal to your device. Then, one satellite hands the connection to another to keep it stable.
"The anticipated surge in satellite broadband deployments spells good news for users. It is likely that new applications will emerge, prices will decline, coverage and reliability will improve, and latency will fall," Deloitte's report says.
There's still lots to sort out with broadband satellites. As more satellites orbit, the risk of collisions and falling debris will call for increased global cooperation, which might be tricky to coordinate.
Jack Fritz, a principal in Deloitte Consulting LLP's tech, media, and telecommunications practice, explains that the regulatory framework for LEO satellites is still a work in progress as companies like Amazon, SpaceX and OneWeb compete to launch satellites.
"The regulatory framework is trying to catch up to where we are today and position for the future, but it's not all perfect. You have different countries with different funding and support happening for different constellations," Fritz says.
"I think the LEO satellites present an opportunity to have pretty strong connections, and there are areas that may not have had great connections, so they're in this hybrid world where the connection they have is still technology from 15 years ago," he says.
"Well, our demands for the internet have moved past that. DSLs, for example; that's the copper our grandparents used for phone lines. That was designed for a one-to-one person call, not for streaming on eight devices in your house."
Streaming in 2023: Expect more ads
According to Deloitte's predictions, previously ad-free streaming platforms will begin to offer ad-supported subscriptions. Experts also think these platforms will roll out tiered subscription plans based on ad frequency and user access to the platform's content library.
Kevin Westcott, vice chairman of Deloitte's US tech, media, and telecommunications practice, thinks that, in the future, all platforms will introduce multiple tiers for subscribers to choose from, which will be based on their streaming needs.
He says that the number one reason subscribers unsubscribe from a platform is that it costs too much. Platforms are mitigating subscriber losses by offering lower-priced tiers in exchange for consumers watching more ads.
A more expensive, premium subscription would be best for viewers who don't want to see any ads and want to watch a new TV show as soon as new episodes drop. A cheaper, ad-supported subscription is ideal for those who don't mind a few minutes of ads and can wait to watch brand-new episodes.
"If you ask me where the world will be in three years, I think all major platforms will have an ad-free, premium-priced tier; then they'll have ad-supported tiers. And there may be multiple ad-supported tiers," Westcott told ZDNET.
"You may have one that's only five minutes [of ads] an hour, and I get access to all of the content the day it's released. I may have a lower priced one that's eight to 10 minutes an hour, and I don't have access to premium content the day it's released."