If there’s one thing you don’t need a crystal ball to predict, it’s that January will see a raft of reports on the trends that are likely to assail us the months to come. Equally predictably, journalists will harvest a few of them to write an article. So let’s get cracking.
The first three trend reports we’ve come across this year are from video advertising platform Unruly, and the agencies TBWA and J. Walter Thompson Intelligence. Between them they round up more than a hundred potential trends, but let’s take a look at a few of those that may impact our digital future.
One thing we’re certainly going to hear more of this year is Artificial Intelligence. According to Unruly, 2018 will be the year that marketers “finally use AI to harness data and create more personal ad experiences”. In other words, advertising that grabs you by your collar is rapidly becoming a reality, “with brands like Toyota creating programmatic campaigns based on emoji usage and Disney encouraging park visitors to wear bracelets that record their movements in order to serve up targeted offers.”
Disney launched its “Magicband” in 2015 and in December it unveiled the Magicband 2, which can be fully customized and links to a My Disney Experience account. Disney itself now says that it’s the fourth largest distributor of wearables in the world.
Another word you may get tired of hearing – as well as trying to understand – is blockchain, the technology behind virtual currencies. Blockchain is essentially a decentralized ledger that keeps track of every transaction, making it entirely transparent. (Imagine something along the lines of Google Docs.) According to Unruly, blockchain “has the potential to allow far greater transparency along the advertising supply chain, ensuring all parties have visibility on whether an ad has been seen, who it was seen by and what actions were taken.”
If you’ve got 20 minutes to spare, and you can stand the presenter’s unnerving gaze, here’s a cool and occasionally amusing guide to blockchain from Wired.
Meanwhile, this year could see a spike in adspend thanks to the World Cup and the Winter Olympics. But with advertiser trust in these events eroding (McDonald’s, for one, has pulled out of sponsoring the Olympics), Unruly believes the scene could be set for more creative hacking by “challengers and hijackers”. Nike, it adds, has been doing that perfectly for years.
Here’s our favourite Nike spot from 2017.
The Nike ad brings us nicely on to one of JWT’s trends, which is all about “the female gaze.” It’s no news that the empowerment of women is high on the agenda at the moment, but JWT identifies a couple of digital platforms that are actually moving things forward in the fields of media and entertainment. The Front is an online video, creative and production network founded and run by women (www.thefront.com). And Girlgaze, founded by photographer and TV presenter Amanda de Cadenet, is all about “supporting girls behind the camera” (https://girlgaze.tv/).
JWT also advises us to watch out for the “Internet of Eyes and Ears”. What they really mean is facial recognition and voice-enabled technology, both of which are going mainstream. Whether it’s phones that can recognise their owners or voice-activated domestic appliances, 2018 may be the year that we learn to get closer to inanimate objects.
Or maybe this will happen.
One word we’d like to hear more of this year – just because we like the sound of it – is Vaporwear. According to TBWA’s Backslash trends report, this is how we should describe virtual fashion and accessories. Think of Snapchat users wearing its “dog face” filter, or the Kim Kardashian Hollywood role-playing game that allows users to buy clothes and make-up. How long will it be before real-world fashion brands start selling outfits you can only wear on your social feed? The emperor’s new clothes just went millennial.
Finally, I was rather happy to read Unruly’s prediction about the revenge of “premium media”. If 2017 was the year that Google and Facebook proved potentially unsafe for brands, which are never sure what kind of murky content their ads might appear alongside, 2018 will be the year that legacy media promotes itself as transparent and trustworthy. As well as fighting back against “fake news”, sites like the New York Times and the Guardian will remind advertisers that, as Unruly says, “consumers are twice as likely to trust news from premium sites than for social feeds.” One step forward is The Verified Marketplace, in which “the Guardian, The Telegraph and News UK have joined forces to offer trustworthy video inventory at scale.”
We wish you plenty of good news in 2018.
Read the full reports here: