As 2017 comes to an end, it is time for those involved in the marketing industry to look forward to what the next 12 months could hold.
From the growing ubiquity of AI and machine learning to the game-changing GDPR, 2018 promises to be just as eventful as its predecessor.
We asked a range of industry professionals to gaze into their crystal balls and give us their predictions for what the new year has in store for marketers and brands.
AI and machine learning
Oliver Bronner, Founder of Berlin-based brand consultancy, Hy.am:
“In 2018, I believe mankind and machine will reach a symbiotic relationship courtesy of Artificial Intelligence. Through the continued usage of our devices for instance, AI will be able to absorb details of our day to day lives – from the news we read, the music we listen to and the content we watch and take these key learnings in order to provide a more personalised experience. As AI continues to become integral to our lives, the technology will not only advise us on news feeds, playlists and TV shows – the things that we enjoy – it will have a say on the things that matter, leading us on a path of self-betterment, whether that’s kicking a bad habit, or fulfilling a life ambition.”
Steve Bartlett, founder and CEO of influencer marketing consultancy, Social Chain:
“Social media will move from being one-dimensional, to an entirely immersive experience that users can engage with beyond a ‘like’ or ‘retweet’. 360degree content will grow, enabling consumers to share content for people to explore at their own will. Social feeds will be overlaid onto reality, whether that’s through AR-enabled apps such as Snapchat and Instagram, VR headsets, or even via a contact lens.”
Aurelien Simon, Head of Immersive at Digital Catapult:
“We expect 2018 to be a big year for the development and roll-out of second generation hardware for VR/AR – set to be better, lighter and cheaper than ever before. We’re anticipating the first headsets from Magic Leap for example – the secretive company is expected to finally unveil its much-awaited hardware. Oculus is also set to rollout Oculus Go, a standalone headset that could drive further consumer adoption in 2018, which will add further variety and sophistication to the market.
“In terms of the creative industries, we’ve seen huge strides in creative content over 2017 and I expect this push for quality over quantity to continue next year. Big production studios are likely to increase their interest and presence in the VR space, while VR games production looks to take a step forward with hotly anticipated games like Doom and Fallout 4 released in VR.
“Finally, in the enterprise space, I expect a transition from prototyping to mass roll-out. Multinational retailing giant, Walmart, is leading the way in this. Having successfully used VR to train employees in 31 of its academies, it plans to roll the programme out to 200 academies by the end of this year. We’re likely to see a similar expansion of programmes in the automotive industry, where VR has been used effectively to show potential customers the look of their vehicle in the showroom.”
Richard Kidd, VP head of business development, EMEA, at independent ad exchange OpenX:
“For programmatic advertising to continue its exponential growth next year, we need to foster greater trust. The way to achieve this is straightforward: increased transparency in all aspects of programmatic.
“Opaque processes that do not disclose which auction type is used, or obscure the true price of inventory, will no longer be tolerated as we move into 2018.
“While the industry continues to ‘clean up’, there are clear steps advertisers can take to protect themselves from being victims of opaque processes. They should only work with providers using the strictest quality and anti-fraud measures – using third party validations such as TAG certification to help identify these – and insist upon only the highest levels of transparency.”
Stuart Flint, Head of EMEA at digital content platform Oath:
“Programmatic is still not going to ‘come over here and steal all our jobs’. More and more agencies and brands are upskilling their staff across all teams and disciplines in ‘programmatic’ as most businesses see the benefits of the efficiencies it brings, despite high-profile stories in the media about its pitfalls. 2018 will see media owners, agencies and brands adopting programmatic buying and selling at higher ratios across their businesses as they hone in on more sophisticated ways of automated campaigns and more people drop the “spray and pray” approach.”
Thomas Madsen-Mygdal, co-founder & CEO of video marketing company TwentyThree:
“Features like Facebook live has made livestreaming easy and accessible for marketers around the world. And livestreaming on a native website where marketers can control the user experience will continue to grow in 2018. Live video is 3 times more engaging than pre-recorded video. So how will this change in 2018? Other than more brands experimenting with the tool, live streaming is predicted to become more interactive. For example, Amstel Radler hosted a customer-led live stream, where viewers controlled the content based on how they were engaging with the video.
“Personalized video content: The greatest advantage of using video content is its ability to feel human and connect with your audience. In 2018, we'll see this taken further, with brands using personalized marketing, sales, and customer service videos to help build relationships and gain customer trust.
“Video marketing automation will move further towards the mainstream. Moving prospects down the funnel has been accelerated through video – especially with the emergence of Video Marketing Platforms that convert users and syncs data with existing marketing automation softwares. In 2018, video will become more integrated into all areas of the marketing funnel. In fact, it's been proven that emails with video have a 63% higher click through rate and landing pages with video can increase conversions by 80% or higher.”
Stuart Flint, Head of EMEA, Oath:
“Mobile video will continue to be leading growth driver in digital ad spend as more brands experiment with AR and mixed reality Mobile video has seen the most growth in digital advertising this year and that trend is set to continue in 2018 as more brands invest in AV as a route to connect with consumers.
“We expect to see brand experimenting with how best to use this technology to reach consumers through audio visual and utility experiences. 2018 will see AR no longer relegated to just the “10%” of marketing budgets as adoption grows.”
Tom Goodmanson, president and CEO of customer engagement and analytics software company Calabrio:
“We can expect even more communication channels to emerge in 2018, adding to the complexity of how brands serve their customers. A breaking point is imminent for the front-line employees who are on the receiving end of increasingly complicated customer issues. New research shows that 56 percent of customer service agents are already challenged with complex issues. What’s more, 60 percent of these employees say that their companies don’t provide adequate technology to handle these problems, leaving them stressed out and increasingly unengaged.
“In order to continue to deliver on the promise of a great customer experience, brands must refocus on their people and technology integrations. In doing so, employees become empowered to quickly make informed decisions and deliver on the service modern consumers expect.”
Mark Smith, President of customer journey analytics company Kitewheel:
“Customer experience will shift from the problem-solving crises mode seen over the past 10 years to a proactive process.There’s already growth here, which will continue into 2018. Kitewheel’s data shows that customer interactions in the growth stage – where companies focus on growing and deriving more value from customers – grew 400% in 2016. 75% of these growth interactions dealt with customer service, customer satisfaction or customer loyalty meaning that companies are already starting to recognize the need to shift CX strategy.
“Customer journeys will become longer and more complex. In 2017, the average customer journey length for customers that have already been acquired reached an average of 20 months, versus 10 for an acquisition journey. This means that while a customer can be won or lost quickly, retaining and growing a customer relationship takes time and cross-channel effort. With the rise of new technologies and channels, 2018 will see even more complex journeys and longer journey times.”
Patrick Tripp, VP of Product Strategy at customer engagement technology company RedPoint Global:
“2018 will mark the death of segment-marketing. In the coming year, success for brands hinges on zero-segment marketing. The reality is, using traditional methods, marketers will never be able to come up with the number of segments to execute against that satisfy today’s consumer’s need for granularly personalized interactions. As customers hop in and out of channels, machine learning and AI are the only means for creating all the possible scenarios of next-best-interaction and personalizing at scale.”
Scott Meyer, founder of privacy compliance tech company Evidon:
“The beginning of 2018 will see the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) be the catalyst of big change in how data is collected and used. As we hit the five-month mark until implementation the sense of urgency around the GDPR is already growing – our recent study shows 36% of companies believe privacy will be central to their culture after the May 2018 deadline, and 67% believe budgets for spending on privacy will increase after the deadline. May will see companies rethink their relationships with data and put together the last piece to the GDPR puzzle: how to easily and effectively communicate their data practices to customers and employees in clear language while also giving control over personal data.
“A major part of the new regulation is that all data practices must be transparent, so an individual can make an informed decision about their own personal data. Consent management tools, while already on the market, will increase in 2018 and more will begin to use Artificial Intelligence (AI), which will help companies meet this requirement. E-Privacy has been overlooked to a degree this year but will become an important consideration in 2018.”