We may put our might behind catching the digital wave, but we cannot miss out on the top trends that will rule the digital ecosystem in 2018. It is that time of the year and let me throw in my two bits on what I would consider as the top 10 trends for digital agencies and clients in 2018.
‘Big Idea’ will be replaced by hundreds of small ideas
I know I will get into trouble for saying this but think about it — the digital medium is a hungry monster that constantly needs to be fed with content. Snackable content — content that is thumb-stopping and forces you to pinch, zoom, click, swipe and experience. Can we still have big ideas on digital? Absolutely. But not all your work can be about it. Look for micro moments to constantly engage your audience and be relevant. Digital agencies need to be nimble and embed snackable content creators into their teams, giving rise to new skill sets.
Content marketing will become critical
Let us face it; the consumer is not looking for your brand. Unless she is an unhappy customer who wants to shred your brand to bits. So what makes the consumer interested in your brand? It is the content — interesting engaging content. I have seen many brands getting carried away by creativity and making content that does not really serve any of their objectives. That is really a waste of money. Your content must benefit a clearly defined audience. It must be valuable, relevant and consistent. MakeMyTrip and IBM do a great job at it. Content marketing can do wonders, if done right.
Building digital ecosystems will become key
There was a time when you had an app for everything and your phones were filled with apps. Over the time, consumers realised that they used only a few apps regularly. The others just bloated their phones. Then a few wise men began integrating apps. So one app would allow you to pay your bills, book a cab, listen to music, order food and even play games. Why build from scratch? Share APIs and build a shell to hold it all together. Many brands today are using this approach to keep the consumer constantly engaged and locked into their ecosystem.
This is going to be the next big thing that most marketers are going to experiment with. Bots, which began as a fairly unknown niche concept in technology, are now turning into a necessity for mainstream businesses. Globally, the chatbot market is witnessing an explosive growth since 2015, growing at 35% CAGR. Reports estimate $8 billion in annual savings from chatbots, with 80% of businesses considering implementing them. The need for these chatbots will not just be for customer service but for aiding purchase and even entertainment. The possibilities are endless and brands just need to get creative.
AR on phones will become real and accessible
The biggest challenge for any new invention is giving it scale and making it affordable to the common man. And now with the power of AR in the hands of consumers, we can expect magic. AR will make things — that we already do on our handheld devices — better and more social, with the camera becoming the primary mobile interface. It will redefine e-commerce, gaming, product design and even become an integral part of the healthcare industry. AR is here to stay — prepare for it or be prepared to be left behind.
Technology to power the idea
There will be more cases of technology powering ideas. Most briefs you receive will lead to the following: new technology innovations leading to the idea, which will lead to new execution formats and mediums leading to new experiences. Technology will remain an integral part of the entire journey from brief to execution.
Organic reach will die
I remember when Instagram and Facebook were chronological; strategies were simple, control was with the user and all was good within the social world. Then the infamous ‘algorithm’ of the late 2016 arrived. Free-flowing content became regulated and the reach of business profiles was reduced, causing them to pay for ads just so that their content could be seen.
What is next? Even less organic media content. This will hurt companies that are not familiar with best practices in influencer marketing. Expect more paid ads, less organic posts from brands and more influencer marketing partnerships with mega-, micro- and nano-influencers.
Micro-influencers over celebrities
Consumers have become smart. Research tells us that influencer marketing is gaining popularity and consumers trust lesser known people more than celebrities. Besides, using celebrities as influencers is expensive, short-term and comes across as hard selling. As a result, micro-influencers will become far more important in the scheme of things.
However, we have to wait and watch how platforms like Facebook deal with these influencers.
Social and e-commerce will come together
Social commerce has become a reality. This is great for brands and agencies because by enabling purchasers to review and rate products, you get insights into your customers’ preferences and experiences. This helps you to improve your offering and marketing. Also, allowing users a chance to share their purchases with friends and followers on their social media pages will put your business in front of more people, with the added advantage of the buyer’s built-in endorsement.
Big data will become a reality
And finally, all this technology and growing interactions on platforms will result in gigabytes of data which are rich in insights. Brands and agencies need to start focussing on data analytics to extract these insights.
My prediction is that the core of the agency will shift from creative to data. Big data will be the new kid on the block, which will power creativity
By: Sanjeev Jasani
The author is chief digital officer, Cheil WW India