The article offers my view of the 10 major Digital themes/ trends that will be a focus for many organisations in 2018
Note 1: I haven’t forgotten about AR, VR, Blockchain, privacy/ security, edge computing, 5G, messaging ads targeting, app growth challenges, etc. I just do not think they will play a major part in the majority of organisations 2018 Digital strategy > activity.
Note 2: I’ve omitted obvious trends such as ‘dark social will offer challenges over social ROI’, ‘the big search/video/ social platforms will continue to dominate users time and company spend’, ‘there will be greater demand from businesses for programmatic display and social ad transparency’, etc.
1/ Advertising > engaging
The outer North and South poles (influencers and peer groups) of my customer and engagement cycle will become ever more important in 2018.
However whilst the likes of influencer networks such as Brandnew, famebit, magiclinks, takumi and Tribe will continue, by the end of 2018 forward thinking brands will start to wean themselves of the over reliance on paid influencers.
During 2018 there will be a rise of micro influencers, niche communities, grass-root community campaigns, paid social boosting and sponsored content (the likes of Outbrain & Taboola), however the big 2018 drive will be around storytelling and how it will work with UX rather than disrupting it
Video, particularly live streaming (Facebook Live, LiveStream, Twitch, YouTube, etc) will gain increasing momentum in 2018.
Not only will Influencers, particularly micro influencers, use video more (think more professionally shot video such as those by Ascia Al Faraj, a leading Kuwaiti fashion influencer) and Brands will use live video more as well; for example Victoria’s Secret fashion show that took place in China last month saw the Brand working with global social influencers who took their viewers behind the scenes
3/ Micro Moments
Winning the moments that matter will be key for Brands during 2018 and with growing Digital complexity, change and confusion there is growing opportunity to pay closer attention to your target audience, find out what they need and deliver a relevant response within seconds.
For example as 87% of consumers turn to their phones first to ask questions then how can we help. Help support. Help inform decisions. Help ultimately solve the ‘thing’ (I want to know. I want to go. I want to do. I want to buy) they are searching for.
4/ Measurement Matters
71% of companies list measurement and attributing value as their number 1 challenge and this will be a focus for any Brands during 2018.
Measure (DMP’s will be developed by many large organisations this year). Attribute (‘Google Attribution’ tool will be used by many this year). Act (real time optimisation will grow bigger this year).
Big data, or simply making sense of multiple data streams in one place, has been a challenge for several years and 2018 will see more brands focusing on real time data visualisation tools > simply manipulating the data > interpretation > empowering marketing teams to make better + quicker decisions.
5/ Content & Search
There is ALOT of content on the internet. We simply do not need more content in 2018. We need less ‘content marketing’ and more ‘content design’ i.e content designed around user need and interest.
Brands during 2018 will focus more around content platforms that have ‘cut through’ (AR, VR, platform specific native advertising, etc) and particularly on short form content such as the recent YouTube ads (YouTube section; point 6).
SEO will continue to be a focus during 2018 to support content reach that in turn supports user need exploration however ‘Search’ optimisation will be thought about much more broadly during 2018 and will encompass areas such as continued optimisation of PPC (not only with AdWords but also with the likes of AMS), YouTube, voice search, ASO (app store optimisation), Augmented reality > actual reality (think Blippar and Snatch), etc
Personalisation is transforming multiple industries due to customer demand for it and Brands generally need to innovate and personalise to stay a step ahead of the competition. E.g the raft of personalised subscription models we have seen recently explode
From a Digital perspective areas such as Email marketing (bespoke content via database segmentation and on past purchase history), Personalised content (Google Now being a good example of push relevant notifications), Social Media (subtle personalised customer experience such as offers, speed of response via customer service, use of customer name in response, etc) and CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation; optimise conversion goals via tools such Optimizely or VWO) will be increasingly used in 2018.
7/ AI & IOT
From the chips/ functionality that are being built into the likes of the iphone X to enable AR > brands that are starting to adopt AR experiences to overlay over their Brand experiences (everyone from Ikea to BMW) > connected watches (everything from ordering an Uber to health checking) > industrial innovation (a great example is the Navistar truck IOT innovation that saw them reduce their cost of managing their fleet from 15 cents to 3 cents per mile) > Voice (leaders being Google and Amazon) > The likes of AI aiding Ecommerce sales optimisation (below) we will see advanced technology being utilised in genuinely useful ways during 2018.
Linked with the above on AI and IOT, yet also including other areas such as UX and mobile specific advertising platforms + Google algorithm = mobile will yet again be a key focus area during 2018.
Delivery of areas such as voice search, chat bots, micro moments that matter, personalised experiences, analytics on the go, AR, video marketing, etc will primarily be via mobile and will particularly be a focus for organisations operating in countries such as South Africa, South Korea, Malaysia, Nigeria and China where they are mobile first by inception & necessity.
Ecommerce will be a focus for many in 2018 as it is increasingly where the consumer is shopping and from a Brand perspective many will benefit from better margins, consumer engagement and LTV optimisation.
Benefits of understanding interests, behaviours and attitudes to specifics around past purchase history and geographical focus hot spot’s should not be underplayed and it will be key for Brands to understand what data is genuinely useful (going back to point 4 above) and what is not (particularly with the likes of GDPR looming in Europe 2018).
Many Brands will still, rightly, be in a 2018 world of test and learn (more on that in my next point) on how/what/when/why/who for key opportunities in e-tail, e-retailer and/or D2C.
10/ Culture and Digital Transformation
To enable many of the points above an organisation must first look at its beliefs, ways of working, structures, silos, and culture to see if it is set up to succeed in the Digital Transformation world of 2018>
Areas such as growth hacking (“rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most effective, efficient ways to grow a business”) will increasingly infiltrate traditional businesses leading to new ways of working (alpha > beta dev becomes standard, user testing becomes the norm, social media R&D greatly impacting new products developed for shelf, etc).
Some examples of global organisations engaging in transformation initiatives during 2017 included J&J Innovation competition , Unilever start up platform , Ongoing Co-op transformation, Snap’s startup accelerator programme, Superdrug/ The Perfume Shop tech partners and Projects that matter from Nestle + what makes successful partnerships from Nestle
These will continue at pace 2018>