We took a quick gaze into the HZ crystal-ball to unearth these visions of the advertising world in 2018.
Prediction: Snapchat will continue to get bad press, but will remain relevant.
Why It’ll Happen: Just as everyone loved Vine, Snapchat is ingrained with many people's daily social exchanges, and despite all the bad things happening to Snapchat this year it will stay alive in 2018.
Prediction: Machine learning will deeply inform marketing strategies and then everything else.
Why It’ll Happen: The data is there, storage is cheap, algorithms do the work—easy win.
Prediction: VR won't have its breakout year.
Why it’ll happen: For the past 5 years, marketers and techies have sworn, “This is going to be the year for VR!” and for the past 5 years they’ve been wrong. Know why? Because, like “fetch,” VR just isn’t going to happen. Not as a mainstream marketing platform, anyway. VR has its place—it’s an incredible tool for pop-ups, stunts, and activations. But it’s isolating, and we’re not even really close to getting it to a place where it makes sense for brands to invest in creating content for it at scale. AR and other mixed-reality technologies, on the other hand, will likely have a huge year. Rather than forcing users to buy a headset (and a computer) like VR, AR uses the devices that are already in our hands. It’s less flashy, but still a interactive and relatively novel. Next year we might just hit that sweet spot where AR still feels new and exciting but has become accessible enough for users and creators to make it a viable marketing option.
Prediction: Brands will cozy up to messaging apps.
Why It’ll Happen: Whether it’s Facebook messenger, WhatsApp, or other platforms, 1:1 messaging from brands will increase to maximize saturation of a message. The trick will be for brands to find a genuine way to accomplish it without it looking like spam.
Prediction: In 2018, smart brands will finally stop paying for wishy-washy digital advertising metrics.
Why It’ll Happen: I’m not sure if this is something to hope for or something to dread, but my prediction is that in 2018, major advertisers will finally have had enough of the gaming of digital advertising metrics. Proctor & Gamble has been going down this road for a while, and in 2018, I think more and more advertisers will follow the big boys’ lead. I don’t know if this means we’re approaching an Emperor Has No Clothes moment for digital advertising, but something has to change.
Prediction: Patreon-esque subscription models become more commonplace.
Why It’ll Happen: There’s an inherent conflict between the authenticity that content is supposed to strive for and standard industry ad practices. As consumption fragments into our individual niches, this gap widens, and the audience becomes more finely tuned. Seeing the success of podcasts and other creators on Patreon through micro-subscriptions, more influencers and sites will ask for small regular donations that will free audiences and this content from most ads, creating more dedicated and passionate audiences. Expect to see subscription-only social networks in 2018 and beyond.
Prediction: Facebook is going to take the back burner. Most social media and digital content will be created with an Instagram-first approach in mind. Twitter will be obsolete.
Why It’ll Happen: Social media is a fast-moving industry. What was popular and functional one day might be replaced within seconds for something that provides a more feasible purpose. Photo sharing has always been important to social media users, so Instagram (and its dominating power among the social mediasphere) has continued to see an increase in its fan base. Facebook has become a playground for the Gen-Xers and beyond, losing popularity among Gen Z for this very reason. And, of course, Twitter is seeing less and less of a following (which is very much old news).
Prediction: A brand is going to swing an election.
Why It’ll Happen: Brands are already becoming more involved in taking “real” political stances. As it continues to ramp up, it will coincide with the 2018 midterms, and at least one brand will get things right enough to influence millions and sway an election.