2018 REVISITED: 10 TRENDS IN MEDIA

3-12-2018

Late in 2017, we identified 10 key trends for 2018. What have we learned in the past year and what did we miss? We can say, that a few have yet to be realised. Maybe we’re just really good at predicting the future and they’ll become evident for 2019 when we release our next report soon.

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The Convergence of Ecommerce and Retail

What we said:

Once very different experiences, retail and ecommerce are converging, with eCommerce giants like Amazon and Alibaba buying into physical retail, and offline giants like Walmart buying online companies.

What happened:

This year eCommerce and Retail have converged like never before.  We’ve seen several DTC (direct to consumer) brands like Casper open stores (200 in Casper’s case), and Shopify opened a store.  Amazon continued to open stores including six cashier-less ‘Go’ stores, and two ‘4 Star’ stores (where all products rate 4* or more on Amazon.) 

Meanwhile, traditional retailers got more involved in eCommerce, including Walmart, who bought FlipKart in India, and H&M who invested $20m in Klarna, a fintech company.

Find out how a brick and mortar Amazon store works

Did we get it right? Absolutely

 

Loyalty & Rewards

What we said:

Loyalty is now evolving from coupons and cards to apps that aggregate purchases and reward points, and make them easier to spend.  A number of apps exist both from brands and aggregators that will store transaction information and rewards safely.  The next stage of this could be the creation of brand currencies.

What happened:

The idea of brands creating their own cryptocurrencies (as Burger King did in 2017), was one of our most speculative predictions. Some brands like Red Bull and Swarovski did experiment with this, and Starbucks talked about it, but perhaps because of Bitcoin prices falling, it has not happened to any significant degree.

Brands including Nike, J Crew and luxury brands like Sephora put more focus into their loyalty programmes, as a way of adding extra value to customers buying directly rather than third-party retailers.  We’re seeing ‘membership’ as a key trend for 2019 year, which builds on the idea of loyalty – rather than just liking a brand, joining a brand.

Did we get it right? Partly

 

Chinese Influence

What we said:

Chinese brands are starting to have a bigger influence on the West, both through investments and acquisitions, and through innovative ideas being adopted by Western companies. For the year ahead, look for partnerships both in China and globally.

What happened:

International political tensions damaged some Chinese companies attempts to expand into the West.  For example, Broadcom was blocked from buying Qualcomm.  Chinese companies like Tencent are still investing in Western companies, but outright control is now harder.

However, Asia’s power in technology and media has definitely increased.  TikTok, from the same company as Musical.ly, is the hot app of 2018 with over 500m active monthly users, overtaking YouTube and Instagram in some download charts.  It is an app for short-form video, and we’d expect it to continue to grow and attract lots of imitators in 2019. 

Chinese AI is also getting more powerful, evidenced by the Chinese government’s ability to use facial recognition to catch criminals, and they can now even recognise citizens through the way they walk.  Self-driving technology is also getting better, and Volvo recently chose Baidu as its technical partner for autonomous driving.

Did we get it right? For the most part

 

Niches

What we said:

As new business models like Airbnb and Uber approach their 10-year anniversary, other companies are starting to copy the models for small but potentially lucrative niches, for example in luxury and B2B. Will there be new service models in various categories?

What happened:

Companies continued to try to identify and exploit valuable niches.  Airbnb introduced a more up-market version, against the threat of brands like Plum Guide.  StitchFix, the AI-driven outfit recommendation service started catering for kids.  Amazon started producing versions of Echo and Alexa for the hospitality sector. and for kids.  Finally, DonalDaters is a dating service to help fans of the 45th US president find love.

Did we get it right? Yes

 

Voice

What we said:

Devices like Amazon Echo are predicted to hit 66% in some markets within 5 years, and voice is actively disrupting categories like search.  New audio content and advertising strategies for voice will become very important.

What happened:

Voice was everywhere, and almost (but not quite) looked like it was finding sustainable business models.  Several companies are working on games, including Volley, who make daily trivia games.  Brands are also testing ways to let people shop using voice on either phones or smart speakers, including ASOS, Dunkin Donuts and Target. 

Did we get it right? Yes

 

Partnerships

What we said:

Brands are starting to work more closely with disruptors, rather than replicating what they do.  Many partnerships are being forged, combining the skills and infrastructure of tech brands with the needs of consumer brands. This will accelerate during 2018.

What happened:

We saw more partnerships than ever this year, including strategic tie-ups between Amazon and Snap that let Snapchat users shop on Amazon for anything they could photograph, and both Google and Alibaba partnering with (different) car companies for connectivity and operating systems.  Technology is getting so advanced, and services are getting so specialist that partnering rather than creating is making more and more sense.

Did we get it right? Yes

 

Shared Experiences

What we said:

As digital media tries to replicate the collective experiences from analogue media and the offline world, we’ll see more advertisers creating experiences for people as part of existing ones.

What happened:

2018 was a World Cup year, and the event showed that people still loved to watch TV together, but it was also the first tournament for reaction videos that often seemed to be enjoyed by almost as many as the games themselves.  Facebook introduced ‘Watch’, its video channels, with the option to create ‘Watch Parties’ and watch together.  HQ Trivia continued to grow, getting over 2m simultaneous players for some games in the US, including specials with Nike and film companies.

Did we get it right? Yes

See the shared experiences of the 2018 World Cup

 

Augmented Maps

What we said:

We had seen lots of location-specific augmented reality, for example Pokémon Go and Snapchat Maps and predict the next stage is going to be user-generated, with friends and others tagging spaces

What happened:

We did not see as much location-based augmented reality as we expected, but there will still lots of examples of brands testing this.  Walking Dead, Ghostbusters and Jurassic World all created their own ‘Pokemon GO’-style game, wild Snapchat produced location-specific lenses and experiences for venues like Disney and Universal theme parks.  It’s still something that is generally professionally created rather than user-created (like a review), but we still think that it will happen.

Did we get it right? Not quite

 

Smart Cities

What we said:

We’ll see cities use data from more connected things (beyond Apps), including cars and traffic lights.

What happened:

As we get to the final two trends, we need to point out that these were the most future facing, and that we weren’t predicting huge leaps in 2018.  We did however see lots happening around the idea of smart cities, including lots of innovations in governmental technology, including papers on car sharing and mobility in various parts of the world.  In the private sector things are being gradually joined together, including new subscription schemes for both Lyft and Uber in the US designed to make the services more useful to people with regular trips around their own cities.

Did we get it right? We’re on track

 

Blockchain

What we said:

We’re still at an early stage in application of the technology, but brands need to understand it, and think of ways in which it could help solve issues of trust and transparency. Brands, including media brands, also need to understand where they fit into the new ecosystem that will emerge.

What happened:

Blockchain is a technology that has only partially arrived.  If anything, it was less of a buzzword in 2018 than 2017, but lots of companies are testing or announcing tests in areas including food provenance (we have a pack of blockchain tracked coffee!), and in advertising.  In common with many agencies we have completed some tests, and are planning others.  Blockchain may be talked about less than a year ago, but it’s better understood, and we now know a lot more about how we could use if to bring transparency to media trading and delivery.

Did we get it right? Not quite there yet

 Dan Calladine is Global Head of Media Futures

 

Take a look at our 2018 Trends predictions here.

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