The Unpredictions: which industry trends do marketers want to leave behind in 2018?
The Drum asked marketers from across the industry which hyped-up solutions, concepts, habits and strategies they’re sick of hearing about.
Tamara Littleton, chief executive of The Social Element, reckons advertisers should leave their deals with ‘mega-influencers’ in the past.
We all know the power of the influencer has grown significantly in recent years. However, as most consumers are savvy enough to know that any celebrity endorsing a product is likely to only be doing it in exchange for a hefty fee, the power of the mega-influencer is diminishing – and rightly so.
Going forward, brands would be better advised to turn to macro influencers (professional creators with a strong passion for a particular subject) and micro influencers (real people with a strong relationship with their audience) as it’s their voice that will carry more weight.
These real influencers not only have more trusted, more engaging relationships with their followers, but they are relatively low cost and lower risk. With brands understanding the increasing importance of authenticity this trend will set to grow in 2019.
Tom Goodwin, head of innovation at Zenith, is skeptical about the transformative power of voice.
Voice is a nice additive user interface, but it won’t kill what went before. It will require new thinking and design and it will require us to rethink how we work machines, but it won’t really change that much.
That’s because voice alone is a really crap way to do most things. It’s a crap way to buy, it’s a crap way to research, it’s a crap way to search and it’s a crap way to order. Screens make it less crap, but at this point, what’s really changed?
If someone does happen to use a speaker to buy some soap or shoe polish or a light bulb, in no way does it mean that brands and advertising are dead. It means branding and top of mind awareness became even more important. And the real beauty of voice is that if companies do embrace it, it finally allows us to become task oriented, and not fit around apps and websites.
I one day will be able to pay a friend on my banking site without navigating a nonsensical menu, but this is just better design forced by a new tech, not the new tech itself.
Marla Kaplowitz, the president and chief executive of the 4As, is over the notion of ‘disruption’.
In 2019, I vote for retiring the word disruption. My New Year’s resolution is to try to stop saying it. The idea that emerging technology is suddenly changing our industry in unpredictable ways has become so prevalent and obvious, it should be an element for every agency and marketer as a matter of course.
Disruption has become the permanent state of the marketing and communications business. But beyond the word's ubiquity, disruption's negative connotation – that it’s something to resist, or react to – is entirely backwards.
Instead of working in this defensive crouch, agencies and marketers need to focus, always, on innovation: how to solve problems with strategy and creativity, not how to react to getting blindsided by someone else’s better solution.
Ben Little, chief executive and co-founder of Fearlessly Frank, believes the industry needs to be weary of veganism’s popularity.
It’s hard to ignore the growing number of vegan restaurants, as well as meat and dairy-free products on supermarket shelves. But while there is a definite rise in the adoption of a plant-based diet, that does not mean that veganism is widely adopted by everyone, everywhere yet.
Looking at meat consumption globally, we actually see that it is rising at a consistent rate of 3% a year everywhere, albeit at a faster rate in the developing world, as these countries get richer. Therefore, FMCG brands should take this into consideration when looking to launch new products.
Sue Hunt, chief revenue officer of Viooh, is dubious about entering ‘the year of digital out-of-home’
Let’s kill this one off right now – 2019 is not the year of DOOH. That might sound odd coming from us [as a tech-driven OOH company] but we need to understand that investment and developments in infrastructure are now fuelling that growth further with the possibility for digital agencies to access DOOH programmatically, adding it to the wider media mix.
We don’t want programmatic DOOH to be seen as a shiny new toy to be commoditised – and certainly not be used for remnant inventory.
Programmatic DOOH needs to be done properly. We need to learn from the horrible mistakes made by the display markets, work to a validated impression currency and talk the language of digital buyers. Lastly, we need to make sure that we examine the claims being made by some players in the market recently on ‘fauxgrammatic’ campaigns. Let’s make sure we don’t make all those mistakes again.
Evan Hanlon, president of M Platform US, thinks the media world needs to stop getting distracted by blockchain.
My main problem with blockchain is not over-complication. It’s the distraction from the very real problems that exist within the digital supply chain. We have the tools to deliver transparency on the known: supply path optimization reduces data loss and value attrition, publishers are exposing supply-side take rates, and adtech providers are capping take rates to increase efficiency.
What scares me is the unknown. What happens when there’s a middle-man in that supply path leeching value? Do we really know the auction rules in the exchange? Am I overpaying for premium access that doesn’t exist? Do my clients have any idea what bid caching really was?
These are the types of questions we need answered in 2019, and they won’t be solved by blockchain. They’ll be solved by smart analysts turned forensic investigators with a dedication to radical transparency, and a commitment from our technology partners to do the same.
Sara Collinge, managing director of Don’t Cry Wolf, wants the PR industry to stop banging on about a code of ethics and just be ethical.
The demise of Bell Pottinger at the end of last year sparked a huge debate around PR ethics. This year there have been more industry trade bodies, panel debates, and industry veterans calling for a global ‘universal code of ethics’ than you can shake a (sustainably sourced wooden) stick at. Task forces were launched, industry best practices were shouted from the multiple rooftops.
All communicators should behave ethically and with accountability, no argument there. The basics are pretty simple: don’t cover stuff up, don’t treat employees badly, don’t stand on a podium and lie, and absolutely never engage in ‘purpose-washing’ in order to win new customers or bag an industry gong. But ethics can’t be instilled in a brand through a PR code of conduct written at the back of an industry handbook.
Consumers demand ethically-aware brands that are uncompromising in their commitment to their values and beliefs. So it’s about time brands realised that you can’t game the system. Ethics should be felt instinctively when customers engage with any business. Being ethical is an integral part of a how a business operates so doing the right thing has to come from the inside out.
Sid McGrath, chief strategy officer of Karmarama, wants to see less superficial brand worthiness in 2019.
Earlier this year, entrepreneur John Elkington requested a “strategic recall” of the “triple bottom line”, the concept he originated nearly 25 years ago. He was unconvinced that any business had truly embraced the importance of a company’s social, environmental and economic impact. Too much of supposed triple bottom line action still related back to profit and loss, not genuine and sustainable change for good.
Therefore, my ‘unprediction’ for 2019 is brand worthiness. We’re at a rare tipping point where 73% of people care about the impact a brand can have on society and 62% of consumers are attracted to organisations that believe in reducing plastics and improving the environment. And while I love the ambition that brands can make a positive difference, I’m concerned that there are those using the triple bottom line as a catch-all for differentiating when people have run out of ideas. Or worse: green-washing to sell more stuff.
Therefore, in 2019 I want to see less brand worthiness and more real change for good – one that balances a business’ need for economic growth with human purpose and sustainable thinking. Our society and planet depend on it.
Solberg Audunsson, founder of Takumi, wants us to stop coupling AI with influencer marketing.
A marketing trend which needs to be ‘unpredicted’ is the overuse of terminology such as ‘AI-powered’ or ‘machine learning’ when talking about the capabilities of influencer marketing.
Artificial intelligence has no role in influencer marketing — it's marketer intelligence combined with the right influencers and high-level automation, or no intelligence at all.
Bruce Starr, co-founding partner of the BMF Media Group, thinks brands need to stop obsessing over ‘Instagrammable moments’ at experiential events.
In 2018, Instagrammable moments tended to feel forced and gimmicky – similar to publicity stunts. It’s time to elevate the lasting experience over the moment.
An expertly executed Instagrammable moment serves as great fodder for one’s feed, but what’s the ROI – the return on impression? A mere blip in time cannot replace the opportunity to convey a multi-dimensional brand narrative. It would be akin to inviting guests over to your home, but instead of ushering them inside, you only allow them to have a peek through your window.
In order to truly leave an indelible mark, brands should opt to build a lasting memorable and emotional connection with consumers. For instance, with experiential marketing, brands are able to cultivate more meaningful relationships that deepen loyalty and ultimately influence purchase decisions. In short, Instagram and influencer marketing are young tactics that will eventually mature and find their footing, but a social post cannot be the desired end goal.
Matt Weiss, managing director of strategic growth at Huge, wants us to lose the buzzwords.
In advertising, the list of buzzwords is endless. They typically point to the latest adtech trend or important, must-know issue. You know the ones: blockchain, privacy, in-housing, big data, AI, D&I, talent drain and of course, AR and VR.
While it’s clearly important to understand industry terminology, I wonder if shorthand “acronyming” (that’s a new one, just invented) is a cover for our anxiety and inability to tackle complex subjects with depth and clarity, to really get at the meat of things. Have we all succumbed to serial labelling?
I’d like to see an industry-wide return to simpler language that requires no Urban Dictionary or lingo look-up. A back-to-basics approach where advocabulary (there's another) leans into the root cause of behaviour and feelings that powers ideas: love, hate, joy, guilt, surprise, fear, happiness, greed, passion, trust and amazement.