2018 – what trends do marketers need to know?

crystal ball
Image: SMH


Crystal ball gazing on trends in marketing is notoriously difficult. The nature of marketing is that no matter how we try to “science-ise” it, it is still more of a creative art form than it is a science, and the nature of creative art is that no one really knows what brilliant idea is coming up next, until it actually happens. Some wild-eyed geek on a hilltop gets hit by a falling apple, clicks his fingers and shouts Eureka, (forgive us mixing our metaphors), and the next moment everyone is doing what he’s dreamed up. Success begets success, and a trend is born.

With that huge caveat, we offer our view of likely things to watch out for in 2018.

Say what?

There’s little doubt that “voice searching” will continue to grow, and suddenly everyone will be talking about the need to have a “voice strategy” for their brand. The advent of Google Home, and Google Voice Search, and all the attendant similar apps that have sprung up, will change the way we search. Already, up to 20% of searches are currently done using voice. More, according to some experts.

google homeWith a very large percentage of voice queries coming from smartphones, voice search has had a lot to do with the mobile advertising and usage boom.

For Google, that’s enough to switch to mobile-first indexing – and for marketers in most industries, to understand that mobile should, in fact, come before desktop. Plenty of work here for designers to turn very obviously not mobile friendly sites into ones that work for mobile devices and are friendly to voice queries.

“Hey Siri? When will we all be searching by voice?” “I’m not sure I know, Dave, but it will be soon. Do you need another coffee?”

That Augmented Reality thing. Yep, that.

As our phones and tablets become more powerful and social apps better integrate with AR, brands will use AR to better engage with their consumers. Simply to reach them more meaningfully, and with more fun. Interactivity will become the norm, not passive reading of content. The real world will be impacted by new pictures, signs, videos and sounds

augmented-reality-iphoneFor example, using your location, brands could trigger sponsored AR content, which can only be accessed at that spot, at that time. Pokémon Go was the pioneer with this idea, and Instagram and Facebook will almost certainly soon be integrating this tech into their platforms.

Clients would be well advised to ask their marketing department to investigate the possibilities now, rather than get gazumped by smarter competitors.

The Influencer market will become harder. For Influencers.

In 2015-17 brands leapt on the opportunity to gain third party endorsements through the use of celebrities and the “chattering classes” to talk about their products, but along with that came an investment in literally thousands of middle-rank bloggers, Instagrammers, and variously chatty people.

The problem is that it’s very hard to quantify the significance of their contribution in an ROI sense. So expect to see Influencer dollars focused on those who really wield influence in the future. Less may well be more.

Online and offline experiences will merge

We will start to see the internet used increasingly to interact with the public during non-online events. Stadia, for example, will use pushed online messages to fire up the audiences at conferences, concerts and sporting events, and then to continue that interaction during the event itself.

richmondFeedback on the quality of the event will occur in real time, and even affect the progress of an event.

Imagine a crowd baying for a substitution and the team coach making it. It happens now with the crowd yelling and chanting. In the future it might be text messages.

Meanwhile the stadium or team or Club will be busy serving invitations for members to get more involved, to buy merchandise, to attend other events, or for non-members to sign up. You’ll never sit alone again.

Great “TV ads” will continue to dominate our advertising consciousness.

 For all that marketeers and their advisers are endlessly in discussion about online (and after all, as a major employer, there are millions of people inclined to talk it up) great TV ads will continue to be what moves mass audiences one way or another, wherever those ads may actually be seen.

150 million YouTube views and counting.

It’s simply incredible that an Indian TV ad for Samsung TV service can garner 150 MILLION views on YouTube, just because it’s a beautifully made ad with huge emotional content. And that’s on top of all the people who have seen it shared on various social platforms, or who actually saw it on TV …

Video has light, sound, drama, action, humour and emotion. The very essence of great storytelling. We forget that at our peril.

Of course, someone will jump in and say “Yes, but they’ll be seen online …” “Yes, but viral ….” But that would be to miss the point. If we become so obsessed with online that we stop creating great video content, our brands will suffer.

Big Data will be … big.

Savvy marketeers are getting all excited about the possibilities for Big Data, even though if you ask ten people what it is you’ll probably get ten different answers.

Essentially it’s all about collecting together information from various places to create what we call ‘actionable insight’.

‘Big Data’ is still a very vague term, but if we think of it as finding insights and performing predictive analytics, then it becomes a little clearer. Already specialist organisations are springing up to gather together databases from various places and spit out consolidated information about consumers that companies can then use for targeting. Or even for product and service development, the siting of new stores, training for their staff, and more.

And software manufacturers are frantically developing programs to help those companies do exactly that.

If you think online advertising has been like the Wild West, wait a few months and watch this space.

Ad agencies will be less about ads, more about strategies

It sounds odd to say it, but in general ad agencies will morph more into “strategic and creative houses” rather than “ad makers”, continuing a trend that has been gathering pace for years, as everyone tries desperately to turn the art form we described at the beginning into something more measurably risk-averse. It’s an inevitable change, and it makes sense, but it also contains some risks.

The ability to think creatively will always be at the core of any successful agency, of course, but more and more those skills will be directed towards innovative market analysis, customer insights and planning, and “ad production” will just be the final output, whereas in the past a great advertising or campaign idea would often lead the marketing process. “Feel” was respected. Great ad practitioners were valued for their left-of-field view of society. In a risk averse world, we’ll see that less and less.

Which might just be a shame. Of course, no smart person would ever “diss” good strategy – in fact good strategy leads to good briefs, the joy of any creative person – but one of the best advertising campaigns of all time didn’t address any known consumer wants or dislikes, or trends, and it absolutely bombed in consumer research. In fact, consumers said they didn’t get it, and didn’t like it.

The campaign only got up because the marketing manager just said to the creative guys at his agency, “Well, sod it, I just like it. It’s funny. Let’s do it.”

Without that insight, the world would never have seen “Only Heineken can do this, because it refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach.”

MOPWhich only leaves it for all of us here at MOP to wish all of you out there in the real world “Happy Holidays” (whatever version of that you subscribe to) and here’s to a tremendously exciting, challenging and successful 2018.

We look forward to helping more and more of you to achieve “Results. Nothing less.”



Author: Stephen Yolland

Director of Creative Strategy and Partner @ Magnum Opus Partners.

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