Along with the other marketers who contributed to the double digit growth in digital spend last year, you might have had a great year in 2017 – but here’s how to ensure 2018 will be even better. To start the year off on the right foot, it’s worth taking a step back to delve into the reasons why it might be time to start investing in technology, or re-evaluating your approach to AI and Facebook. Although, of course, none of that is going to matter unless we lay the transparency issue to rest, hopefully once and for all.
1. Find your Voice
The new tech on everyone’s lips, Voice promises a new entry point to shopping and digital interaction. 2018 may not yet see Voice hit a breakthrough threshold at which we’re all shouting, but the time has certainly come for some forward planning. After all, Voice technology will present some very real challenges to brands. While image-based brand identity building is now well established, what verbal brand identity may sound like will take some thinking about. But the bigger headache for brands will be who controls the entry point for Voice engagement. If Amazon’s Alexa is the go-to order taker for shoppers, what does this mean for brands and products? With diminishing opportunity to enjoy visual appeal, marketers will need to find other ways to, well, find their voice.
2. Tighten your approach to AI – more Intelligence, less Artificial
Get ready to get really sick of hearing about AI. There is little doubt that true Artificial Intelligence offers the world myriads of new developments – from exciting ones like automated cars and accurate medical diagnosis, to the less exciting, such as the sweeping job loss that it entails, for which there will be few replacement roles.
But for media and marketing, the promise is built around hyper-efficient connection with new audiences, as well as a more curated experience with existing ones – ‘promise’ being the operative word. After all, AI has some way to go before it gets things right, and brands must be very careful that they don’t annoy customers in the meantime – it’s a fine line between smart targeting and stalking. While the clever use of data would no doubt delight customers, they need to see that AI is being deployed to make their lives easier or better – and to believe it.
3. Consider closing the Facebook chapter
This is the year Facebook will decline. What seemed unthinkable this time last year, when the platform was at the height of its powers, will in 2018 become a reality. The signs are here already: reduced interactivity amongst users; stalled growth of the teenage market; fake news and scandal around elections; the recent announcement that Facebook will be making changes to its newsfeed algorithms…
With all of this, the disproportionate amount of digital media budgets dedicated to Facebook is starting to look unhealthily large. But ultimately, it’s about the users. Armed with phone cameras of ever-improving quality, and an enhanced ability to build and control their profiles through images, it’s unsurprising that users are spending more time on Instagram and other image-focused platforms – and less on Facebook. Having said that, the speed of Facebook’s decline is of course contingent on the level of maturity of the market in question. In markets like Singapore and Malaysia, for instance, marketers have expressed their continued faith in the platform, while in Australia, Facebook is rapidly losing its cool factor.
4. Letting the light shine in – solving the transparency problem once and for all
The most important trend of 2018 will not be platforms or technology but something much simpler: trust. The marketing and media sphere has done a remarkably successful job at giving critics the ammunition to attack us with. Murky practices, bad reporting, self-serving analytics, and a general lack of transparency – mostly tied to digital media – have all helped undermine trust between brands and their agencies. 2018 will, and must, be the year this is properly addressed, or none of the above will matter much.