Solid analysis on this tough topic Rand. It will definitely be interested to see what in-serp features Google continues to add to keep you on their site as opposed to clicking through to a website. I think SEOs need to take more consideration into branding and content marketing tactics in order to supplement potential lost organic traffic as time goes on.
Google doesn't always include a whole paragraph of text in the Featured Snippet. If you add "Step 1," "Step 2," "Step 3," etc. to the start of each HTML heading within your content (for example, within your H2 tags), Google will sometimes just list out your headings within the Featured Snippet. I've started to see this happen more and more in keywords beginning with "how to".
If you want to be even remotely competitive in your space, SEO is non-negotiable. Chances are, your competitors are pouring time and money into their organic traffic. They’re targeting high-value keywords. And they’re doing everything they can to dominate the search engine results. On a fundamental level, it means you can’t ignore SEO. But the competitive advantage of organic traffic is not just about playing catch up with your competitors.You can one-up them and secure your spot as the preeminent brand in your space. Here’s why.
In 1998, two graduate students at Stanford University, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, developed "Backrub", a search engine that relied on a mathematical algorithm to rate the prominence of web pages. The number calculated by the algorithm, PageRank, is a function of the quantity and strength of inbound links. PageRank estimates the likelihood that a given page will be reached by a web user who randomly surfs the web, and follows links from one page to another. In effect, this means that some links are stronger than others, as a higher PageRank page is more likely to be reached by the random web surfer.
Now, it is not that these sites are not interested in Google users. In fact, they have hired us to help them increase their share. However, they are getting so much traffic from sites like Facebook that it seems there is less urgency about attracting this traffic and less willingness to change the site to meet organic standards. Not long ago, sites would urgently and unquestioningly abide by Google’s standards to court that traffic.