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The year of integration: 5 marketing predictions for 2018

2018 is the year of ‘integration’. From social to programmatic to data science, from online to offline, marketing technology has grown in complexity and volume, specialised in purpose and yet, become more interconnectable. Beneath the hype for data science, offline measurement, AI and machine learning, is a common intent to create a single customer view. Brands need to market to consumers as individuals, and as they work towards that goal, here’s what they’ll need to solve in 2018:

1. ‘Digital marketing’ becomes Marketing
Advertisers need to adapt for a world where all marketing is programmatic. Messages need to be crafted based on consumer behaviour and purchase intent by synthesising first and third-party data. As such, acquiring the skills in data science and related areas will be an existential challenge for brands.

Omnichannel engagement between brands and consumers will become the norm and data science is key to enabling the necessary marketing transformation, towards completely personalised marketing.

From an execution perspective, all brands need to create a single unified view of their consumers’ journey. Third party data then needs to be amalgamated to understand what those consumers and other potential consumers are doing. This enables more precise segmentation and targeting respective to their position in marketing funnel. Creatives need this data to identify what messages should be delivered to them.

Given the over-indexed consumption of digital marketing and the access to data, increasingly digital will be planned first and ATL extends beyond that.

2. Creative will see a transformation
Over the past few years, content has been losing out to math and performance numbers, but audience buying will see story-telling re-emerge and content become king again, with a trusted advisor in digital. As a result of digital-first planning, creatives will also be digitally driven.

Evolving beyond the traditional big production, campaign specific, periodical hero content, creatives will be built for digital first. For instance, platforms such as Snapchat enable highly-personalised marketing by placing the consumer inside the creative, while Facebook Canvas integrates static and interactive elements. Only content built from the ground up to channel-specific and mobile-first can fully take advantage of the interactivity and personalisation digital enables.

Insurance brands appealing to different lifestyle needs and telcos leveraging sporting moments and some examples of this transformation. Content will be short-form, segmented for different consumers using data, constantly optimised and adapted based on insights.

3. The continued decline of the agency of record model
The agency on record model, which has a one size fits all approach and a heavy focus on brokering media, is failing brands. They are not getting the level of consultancy they need on digital marketing transformation from that model.

Agencies need to able to execute and understand digital marketing deeply enough to solve today’s challenges for brands. Agencies and brands all need to be agile, innovate and adapt to every customer need. In a disrupt economy with so much change, it’s the only way to stay alive. There is no such thing as a “one size fits all” model anymore.

4. Artificial intelligence and machine learning to have a major impact
Brands will leverage AI and machine learning to automate the messages they deliver to consumers based on their customer lifecycle activity. Intelligent data synthesis between available inventory, historical behaviour and activity from third party sources will deliver the promise of personalised marketing. To execute this in real-time for millions of individual consumers, AI and machine learning must be utilised. 2018 will see greater use of automation to identify and act on micro-moments in each customer’s journey.

5. We’ll start to see the impact of voice activation on marketing targeting against voice search
In 2017, Google announced Google Assistant was installed on more than 100 million devices in the world, and improved support for regional accents. As voice recognition and ability to provide locally relevant information grows, voice search adoption will follow. Voice assistants will become a strong indicator of user intent. This opens a plethora of new data sources, such as Amazon’s Alexa to surface opportunities for targeting. Combining voice search at home and mobile usage out-of-home can reveal opportunities to engage each customer at their most receptive touchpoints.

The maturing of channels and devices in 2018 will increase the complexity of marketing, but solidifies the needs of CMOs as well. Deep digital specialism with consultancy, holistic media planning and adoption of data science and custom tech solutions will point the way to delivering personalised marketing.

Matt Sutton

Matt Sutton is the CEO of AdParlor Asia Pacific.