As we begin another year, it’s important for marketers to be aware of emerging and continuing
trends, challenges and tactics within our ever-evolving industry.
We have analysed social and digital data to produce what we believe will be 10 significant trends to
shape the way brands advertise within the digital and tech space in 2018.
MD, Online Circle Digital
1. Voice Technology
2. Augmented and Virtual Reality
3. Artificial Intelligence
4. Ad Blocking
5. Digital in the Physical Space
7. Regulation, then Disruption
8. Influencer Marketing
9. Mobile Video Consumption
10. Brand Purpose
Voice command technology is easily navigated by all age groups, making it
universally popular. Forbes reported that in 2017, Google Home’s speech
recognition reached 97% accuracy.
Over the 2017 holiday season, Echo Dot (or Alexa, as it’s commonly known) was
Amazon’s top selling product and Google Home was among the top 5 most
downloaded apps on Android.
The stats don’t lie; as of 2017, 41% of adults conduct at least one voice search per
day, and that number will keep rising. By 2020, voice searches are expected to
account for 50% of all online queries, which is up from 20% in 2016.
Begin optimising your website for voice search this year, as voice searches are
usually complete sentences rather than keywords. Technology like Alexa and Google
provide only the most relevant search result as an answer, so you need to be number
one to be heard.
Consumers are demanding a more personalised experience when shopping online.
So, what’s the answer? The integration of augmented and virtual reality based on
customer data. The use of AR/VR apps drives deeper personal interactions and
consumer value. Think of the integration as a digital “try before you buy”.
Ikea Place was launched in September 2017 - an augmented reality app built on
Apple’s new ARKit technology. Users can scan their home and browse over 2000 3D,
true-to-size IKEA products and digitally add them to their home, with 98%
dimensional accuracy. The technology is so advanced that it even depicts shadows
and fabric textures.
According to VirtualSky, VR ads offer 8x the recall of traditional advertising and can
drive more than 10x the interaction rate of traditional video. The AR market is
expected to hit $61.3 billion in 6 years.
2018 will see major brands adopting advanced AR technology to create more ad
opportunities and personalised experiences utilising native (Snapchat, Facebook)
and third party apps. After all, why would a consumer travel to a showroom to view a
new car when they could see it in their own garage on their phone??
The increased capabilities of Artificial Intelligence technologies means that
marketers can use AI data to create personal ad experiences that the industry and
consumers are craving.
2017 saw Toyota create more than 80 personalised ads for Twitter based off emoji
uses when tweeting. The brand raised awareness of their latest vehicle in the
Twittersphere by serving ads that matched users latest emoji engagement.
There is also huge potential to integrate AI technologies into content creation this
year. Although machines are not yet at the capability of creating high-quality content
on their own, tools like generation and predictive analytics allow AI to influence and
streamline a large portion of content creation.
In 2018, consider how AI technology can be integrated across all areas of your
business, from research and data collection to creative.
Currently, there are 615 million devices worldwide with ad blocking software
Now, one of the biggest players in the digital environment is potentially going to
shape where you place your ads.
Google has announced plans to integrate an ad blocker into Google Chrome, the
most widely-used browser. The ad blocker will only block the following ads that
Google deems intrusive:
• pop-up ads
• large sticky ads
• autoplay ads with sound
• autoplay video ads with sound
• flashing animated ads
• full-screen scroll over ads
Brands need to reassess 2018 ad placement for the potential launch of Google
Chrome’s ad blocker to ensure no budget is wasted on ads that won’t be seen.
The concept of “Experiential Retail” or “Retailtainment” is all about providing
consumers with an experience, rather than simply a service.
Samsung has launched Samsung 837, an “experiential hub” in New York. Samsung
837 features rooftop film screenings, interactive art installations, concerts, VR
experiences, cafes and podcast recordings all featuring Samsung products, but none
can be purchased in store.
The blending of digital retail into the physical retail space has been successfully
adopted by Australian brand, Sneakerboy. Consumers can try on the product in store,
but only purchase online via their personal devices or the in-store iPads.
American luxury chain Nordstrom has also recently opened an experiential retail
space in California, and we expect more major brands to follow suit over the year.
In this type of environment, consumers are engaging with products and brands
without the pressure to purchase. Consider how your brand messaging and products
will be digested in a relaxed, enhanced setting that creates a better consumer
Digital in the
Blockchain technology has the potential to create greater transparency in
advertising, ensuring all involved parties know whether or not an ad has been seen,
who has seen it and what actions were taken.
Business Insider reports that over the next ten years, ad fraud will amount to a global
cost of $50 billion. Blockchain and its ability to decentralise is predicted to
revolutionise the battle against ad fraud.
Social Media Week reports that Blockchain will have a tremendous impact on digital
marketing in particular. The expectant rise in decentralisation will shift the way digital
campaigns are managed in 2018.
Some actions have already been taken. The Interactive Advertising Bureau has
created a Blockchain Working Group, and Nasdaq has announced they will be
launching the New York Interactive Exchange, a program that will allow inventory to
be sold using Blockchain Technology.
We expect the prominence of Blockchain to continue growing in 2018.
The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, identifies bad practices by
GDPR is set to be enforced by the EU in May, 2018 and will force brands to reassess
the data that they collect and why they collect it. Once the GDPR is enforced,
companies that don’t comply will face fines of up to 4% of their total revenue - so it’s
best to follow the rules!
Bar chain J.D. Wetherspoon suffered a breach in their data in 2015 and last year
chose to delete their entire customer email database. Some brands are taking a
different, more embracing approach. Unruly reports that Huawei is currently
researching the idea of AI replacing cloud processing, meaning that customer data
could be stored locally.
Ultimately, consumers are the real winners here. GDPR allows more control and
privacy around their information and how/what is collected.
Although Influencer Marketing is not an entirely new concept, the interest in
influencers as a strategy continues to grow.
Social Media Week reported at the end of December 2017 that of the hundreds of
speaking pitches they received for their upcoming SMWNYC conference, influencer
marketing was by far the most popular subject.
Inc.com also reported that in 2017, 84% of marketers planned on implementing at
least one influencer marketing campaign. Inc.com’s data also showed that for every
$1 spent on influencer marketing, brands made $6.50.
As a result of the rise in influencer interest, the market is now crowded. 2018 will see
brands focusing less on middle-tier influencers and prioritising influencers who drive
We can also expect to see brands demanding more from their influencers,
particularly around standards, transparency and measurement of investment.
The Rise and Fall of the
In our industry, time is a scarce resource.
According to Facebook’s IQ team, mobile devices actually affect how consumers
perceive time. A recent study showed that when participants viewed two videos of
the same length, one on desktop and one on mobile, participants estimated the
mobile video to be 30% shorter than the desktop video.
The same notion translates into the purchase journey. Research shows that the
journey from interacting with an ad to purchase is 13% faster on mobile.
Mobile video consumption is expected to grow by 25% in 2018. Video consumption
on desktops and laptops is expected to decline for the first time ever.
In early 2018 Google accounced their rankings are mobile first. Think, build, optimise
As we know, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of what goes into the
products they buy. Factors like sustainability, brand values and ethical sourcing are
heavily influencing purchase decisions.
In 2016, Unilever reported that its “Sustainable Living” brands (Ben & Jerry and Dove)
grew 50% faster than the rest of their brands. Nielsen data from 2015 also shows
that 72% of Gen Y and 73% of Gen Z said they would pay more for brands that had
sustainable practices in place.
2018 is the year to recognise the heightened awareness of consumers. This is the
year to go deeper and align brand strategy with authentic purpose, and to make a
real contribution to the lives and lifestyles of customers.
This strategy was adopted in 2017 by Heineken and Mercedes-Benz. Both brands
tackled highly sensitive and topical content in a bold way. Mercedes-Benz took a
stand for equality in status, rights and opportunities with their “Love is Love”
campaign, with their iconic star as the focal point of the creative. Heineken presented
topics like climate change, feminism and transgender issues to people of opposing
opinions, placing their product in the centre of the discussion.
Both campaigns were extremely successful, gaining international media attention
and awards. Expect to see other major brands establishing a deeper sense of brand
purpose in 2018.
ONLINE CIRCLE DIGITAL
Lucio Ribeiro, MD
03 9696 7473
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