As last year wrapped up, we predicted the trends that might dominate our conversations in 2017. Many of those turned out to be true — artificial intelligence crept into our homes and ‘experiential’ marketing was the tactic of choice for big and small brands alike. Of course, not everything was on the money and thankfully, our predicted buzzwords were less accurate (anyone want to try and make ‘practivation’ a thing in 2018?).
In addition, there were plenty of things that we didn’t see coming, with 2017 likely to be remembered largely as the year of reckoning for powerful male celebrities. But it wasn’t all bad news. We kicked off the year with powerful images from the Women’s March, which became the biggest global show of solidarity ever. And just this past month, Australia voted a resounding ‘YES’ for marriage equality, which is now officially law.
— Sydney Opera House (@SydOperaHouse) November 15, 2017
This year, we’re once again considering what will – and won’t – happen in the next 12 months. Are robots really coming for our jobs? Will we finally get hoverboards? Is the rapture coming for us, or has it already happened?
Folks, I think we need to start coming to terms with the idea that the rapture happened and only David Bowie and Prince made the cut.
— Andrew Thaler (@DrAndrewThaler) December 2, 2017
Here’s what we think will be the big 2018 trends.
Ben Shipley, Managing Director, Spectrum Group
True one-to-one marketing will become a real possibility.
This year will see hyper-relevant communications take off, as artificial intelligence enables brands to literally talk to audience members on a true 1:1 basis. Having a clear single message will no longer be as important as connecting with different perspectives and opinions across a fragmented audience online. At the same time, augmented reality will unify the physical and digital worlds to offer even bigger audience pools for engagement. This presents huge opportunities but also the challenge of effective audience engagement in these different spaces.
Beatrice Hayward, Senior Account Executive, Spectrum Group
The line between social media and news will become more blurred.
The aftermath of the US election and claims of ‘echo chambers’ saw us all question the diversity of perspectives in our news feeds. And this year we saw Twitter admit it takes ‘newsworthiness’ into account when assessing whether to remove tweets or not, making a huge statement about how social media controls and curates what we see. The monetisation of social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat will continue to blur the line between user-generated content and branded content.
Rachel York, General Manager, Spectrum Group
We’ll no longer control our personal data.
I predict that Google Home will be the most popular Christmas present this year. This makes 2018 the year that Google collects all the personal data that it doesn’t already have and uses it to deliver a tailored life experience we never thought possible. At the same time, we’ll see more of Elon Musk and the rise of other entrepreneurs who want to compete in the same space, achieving technology advancements that once seemed like science fiction.
Charlotte Marsh, Junior Content Producer, Spectrum Group
E-sports in Australia will continue to grow.
Virtual and augmented reality are becoming more sophisticated, and this will lower the barrier to entry for gamers. There’ll be greater interest and opportunities for e-sports to take shape as a legitimate sport as more technology companies get on board to sponsor and support it.
Michael Frier, Senior Account Manager, Spectrum Group
Customers will tell brands’ stories for them.
PR has always been about storytelling. In 2018 it will move from telling the right story to getting other people to share your story. The consumer will be at the centre of the storytelling process, as brands realise the power of activations that allow audiences to participate in an experience and then share their perspective on it.
This year will also see PR and communications agencies become increasingly multi-service, to solve business challenges with whatever channel and approach works – be it traditional media relations, events, social media or virtual reality. Brands will begin to understand that an audience-led strategy is the best solution to all communications challenges.
Annie Peachman, Content Strategist, Spectrum Group
Brands will use creative content and data to increase relevance.
As the Internet of Things brings brands into every facet of our lives, the importance of ‘microcopy’ will grow. Every tiny experience with a brand will need to be useful, dynamic and hyper-relevant, whether it’s an error page, an appointment notification, or interacting with a voice assistant. At the same time, consumers will grow impatient with blatant sponsored content on social media or brands offering thinly-veiled sales pitches as content. There’ll be a backlash and a return to more authentic, real-life experiences on social media.
On the retail front, Amazon’s Australian arrival will force local businesses to reconsider how they use customer data. Bricks-and-mortar stores that offer an experience or service tailored specifically to a local community’s interests and habits will flourish. But digital businesses that fail to offer a straightforward and engaging online journey will struggle.
Cheryl Tan, Country Manager, Spectrum Group
It will be the year for start-ups to take the reins.
2017 was the year direct-to-consumer marketing really took off. Anyone with a mobile phone and social media account would have come close to buying that amazing new face mask or exercise program promising instant results. We’ll see more of this in 2018, with brands having the ability to target audiences with scary accuracy. Soon, all we’ll need is to simply think of something before it appears on our news feeds! Coupled with the ability to collect and process data about our customers, it’s an exciting time for start-ups. They can now compete in a world traditionally dominated by huge corporations.
Kerrie Murphy, Editorial and Content Director, Spectrum Group
Artificial intelligence will become part of our everyday lives.
Organisations will stop dipping their toes into the content marketing water as they realise that without strategy and measurement, content is hard to successfully execute. As testing and targeting become more refined, they’ll think harder about what they’re trying to achieve.
As consumers, we’ll get increasingly used to the convenience AI delivers. This will erode some of our fears about a Terminator-style scenario. We’ll also see more of the bad that comes with the good. So there will be job losses as industries change or vanish, imperfections in autonomous driving and security breaches.
So, that’s what we think will happen this year. Here are a few things we think definitely won’t happen in 2018.
- Ben – Trump won’t step out of the spotlight (no matter how much we might want him to)
- Mike – Neither Australia or England will win the football/soccer/only-one-that-matters World Cup
- Annie – Self-driving cars won’t become mainstream, as they still try to navigate around kangaroos and allay consumer concerns about safety.
- Kerrie – The US President won’t stop tweeting. We’ll still hold our collective breath every time he has a tantrum on Twitter that could have massive global repercussions.
- Beatrice – Sadly, hoverboards that actually hover.