10 Key Digital Trends to Watch for in 2018

January 23, 2018 | By: Melanie Mulvihill | 5 min read
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LTblog_TopTrends_Embed_1200x628As 2018 begins, we know the one question on everyone's mind is “what will this new year bring?” Well, we have some good news for all you marketers! In this blog, we have summed up eMarketer’s article about the digital landscape and predictions in the new year.

Prediction #1: Social advertising transparency will become a big deal

Due to Russia’s meddling with the 2016 US election using both Facebook and Twitter ads, the two social platforms are taking steps to make it easier to find out who the advertiser is, how much they are spending and how the ads are targeted.

Facebook said it will let anyone see what ads a page is running, even if they are not being targeted by the ads. When it comes to political ads, the information will be deeper: showing the amount spent, number of impressions and the ways the ads were targeted. Twitter will be creating an “ad transparency center,” showing all ads currently running, how long they have been running and targeting information.

Now Facebook and Twitter must actually start to implement what they are planning/talking about, proving to be no easy task - given the volume of advertising and complicated technologies like dynamic ads. This full transparency they speak of might not be so easy to achieve.

Prediction #2: Voice search will become widespread

Voice search is becoming a standard operating system in most households. Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home devices are growing in popularity and being installed in more homes than ever before.

eMarketer estimates the number of US voice-enabled digital assistant users will rise by 14.1% (to 69.0 million) next year, while the number of voice-enabled speaker users will climb 27.6% (to 45.4 million). With more users relying on voice to search, marketers need to adjust their SEO and content strategies. Marketers must consider content that fits in with conversational language, while knowing that the first result will only matter as voice search engines only serve voice searchers with one answer rather than a list of options.

Prediction #3: Augmented reality will become mainstream

Augmented reality has something that virtual reality doesn’t -- it can be run on mobile devices people already have. Nothing additional like headsets needs to be purchased. Both Apple and Google are encouraging mobile experimentation, potentially making AR available to many smartphone users. Ikea recently introduced an AR-driven furniture placement app, Place. This is a great example of how AR can be a part of everyday use.

Prediction #4: Big Tech’s image will become dirty

Things are changing for tech giants due to damaging news reports. “Facebook as conduit for Russian meddling in elections, Google as heavily fined violator of European antitrust law, Apple as international iMaster of tax avoidance, and so on.” All of these stories will start to shift the way consumers view these companies, and create an environment for lawmakers to assert more control and squeeze more tax revenues from them. eMarketer predicts there will be even more blood in the water as these tech companies resist.

Prediction #5: People will recognize Amazon’s role in the advertising marketplace

All of us are familiar with one of the largest retailers, Amazon, but not all know that Amazon is becoming a “digital advertising powerhouse.” eMarketer expects Amazon’s net US digital ad revenues will increase by 42% in 2018, reaching $2.35 billion.

Amazon’s strength as an ad platform is because of search and display. With search, brands with an Amazon presence are increasing their spend into highly effective cost-per-click placements, ensuring they get consumers’ attention. On the display side, the Amazon Advertising Platform has targeting capabilities that allow marketers to see users’ interest based on their Amazon searching, browsing and buying.

Already in July 2017, a ClickZ Intelligence and Catalyst survey of business-to-consumer marketers in North America found that early two-thirds planned to increase ad spending on Amazon in the next 12 months -- higher than other platforms like Google and Facebook.

Prediction #6: Hacks and breaches will change the privacy landscape

Security hacks from Target to Equifax have made the news, and left consumers with fear of identity theft. A 2017 survey of internet users worldwide by Accenture found that just 14% of respondents were confident that their personal online data is safe. However, very few companies have stepped up their efforts when it comes to security practices, and consumers continue to shop online and share more data about themselves. This continues a vicious cycle of data collections and breaches.

2018 is the year the landscape will begin to change, partly due to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This legislation will require companies doing business with EU citizens to follow strict data-protection requirements. Failure to do so will result in heavy fines.

The GDPR will better protect organizations from cyberattacks and consumers from having their identity stolen. Companies will need to find ways to protect consumers’ information and perhaps decrease the amount of data they collect. Regardless, digital privacy environment will change significantly.

Prediction #7: Taking advantage of Blockchain

For marketers, Blockchain will change pieces of the digital advertising landscape. Some ad firms will begin to use Blockchain to fight ad fraud, while making the digital ad supply chain more efficient. Blockchain as a reliable ledger would mean that brands could be sure that what they thought they were buying really was what they were buying, and ultimately to trace the course of dollars put into digital advertising. According to eMarketer, this would allow advertisers to pinpoint and eliminate fraud and to make the digital media buys more efficient. “Tracing where ad spending goes - and how much of it ends up with each ad tech firm rather than with publishers - would put pressure on those programmatic players to prove they add value.”

Prediction #8: Digital video will go big and small

Digital video is concentrated now in two areas -- mobile and connected devices -- and there is a continuing increase in the amount of time adults spend viewing digital video. The viewership trend will encourage spending in mobile video and connected TV.

Connected TV platforms faces many obstacles, including lacking the scale advertisers are used to finding on network and pay TV, and lacking programmatic advertising. According to eMarketer, these obstacles won’t disappear overnight, but will take a leap forward in 2018. Ad spending will catch up with consumer behavior.

Prediction #9: Gains in online-to-offline data will lead to more localized mobile advertising

Improved online-to-offline data will add another layer of understanding about mobile behavior and advertising performance, which should make advertising more personalized and localized.

Location data has been available to mobile marketers for years. Facebook and Google have used this data to their advantage. Google has local inventory ads and map ads and Facebook has local awareness ads. Both companies give advertisers tools to attribute offline sales and store traffic to online ads.

Mobile advertisers have also discovered that the real “gold” in location data is in patterns of movement over time, helping to better understand their customers. For example, if you go to the batting cage every Saturday, odds are you may be interested in baseball gear and equipment. Dynamically localized ads to reflect customer behaviors and patterns on platforms like Facebook and Google is where advertisers’ mobile ad dollars should go.

Prediction #10: Marketing world’s attention shifts to Gen-Zers

Marketers started obsessing over Millennials before many of them had money to spend. All the while, they ignored Boomers and Gen-Xers who actually had money to spare. Buzz around Gen Z in the past year suggests some ill-advised marketers may start to concentrate on them. It doesn’t make sense to ignore Millennials now that they are advancing in their careers and are becoming heads of households. Gen-Zers will eventually become the “consumer powerhouse,” but that day is very far away. Marketers should be paying attention to today’s main consumers.

What digital media trends do you expect to see this year? Share with us in the comments below!

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