Every year around this time I take a step back and to ponder some predictions for our field for the coming year. Some come to be, others are a few years early - and then there are predictions which I’m still waiting to come true years later.
You can’t win them all, unfortunately. That said, the trends I’m following lead me to believe that the seven predictions below will become true in 2018.
So without further ado, I present to you my seven predictions for next year:
1. Blockchain Infiltrates Paid Media
It’s the technological foundation for today’s cryptocurrencies, it has the ability to digitize, decentralize, secure and incentivize the validation of transactions. It’s the democratization of trust using distributed digital ledgers.
Its impact will be significantly felt in the programmatic ad world – driving down costs, while eliminating waste and fraud. Blockchain companies like adChain, Bitteaser, Native Video Box and NEM have all entered the ad tech space.
2. Artifical Intelligence Transforms Web Analytics
We’re seeing artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and/or natural language processing being used in programmatic solutions, as well as influencer advertising solutions. Many of the most successful demand-side platforms (DSPs) have some form of AI already integrated. Next year will be the year supply-side platforms (SSPs) will start to embrace AI en masse.
In addition, there’s been a new wave of AI-driven analytics cropping up (DemandJump) in 2018. These solutions will completely disrupt the traditional analytics tools many are used to using, enabling marketers to be more choosy with how they spend their time and ad dollars - thus, maximizing return.
3. Influencer Marketing Moves from a Tactic to a Strategy
I just finished a comprehensive case study on a small business that uses influencer marketing to power every aspect of its marketing - they only publish influencer articles on their blog and all of its ebooks and guides are from influencers. It features influencer content in all of its newsletters and its annual magazine - it even controls some of the social media accounts of some of its influencers.
Their approach has led to a 35% increase in sales since last year.
Influencer marketing can be so much more than a roundup post. I predict more companies will begin to adopt a strategic model, like the one described above, in 2018.
4. Media Companies will Start to Take Significant Market Share from Agencies Globally
Whether agencies know it or not, media companies (especially in Europe) are signing significant service contracts with brands. Historically, this budget went to agencies.
The rapid growth of native advertising has propelled media companies to create and build their own content studios (internal agencies).
Media companies have a distinct advantage over most agencies, too - they have their own significant audiences to tap into, post content creation. This year we saw media companies branch out more by offering more than just creative services. From paid media to virtual reality, content studios are really beginning to look like full-fledged agencies. The New York Times has even built its own influencer marketing network.
These trends will certainly be felt in the wallets of many agencies.
5.Net Neutrality Elimination in the US will Take a Heavy Toll on Digital Marketers
This is the one prediction I hope doesn’t come to fruition. If net neutrality get’s overturned by the FCC, ISPs will be given the green light to create fast and slow lanes on the Internet. Potentially, this could mean that consumers will have to pay more to access certain websites, and that certain websites will have to pay ISPs more for consumers to access their websites.
Such change would impact all of the work and tools digital marketers use on a daily basis. It also has the potential to create a massive barrier to entry for any cloud solutions – both consumer and cloud company.
Imagine waking up tomorrow and not being able to access your social media accounts, analytics, Google Docs, Dropbox, Skype, GoToMeeting, and so on, and so on.
6. Native Advertising Agencies, or Agency Service Lines, Will Begin to Crop Up En Masse
To date I only know of seven agencies globally that specialize in delivering native advertising distribution of content - which is surprising given the fact that there are over 360 native ad tech companies in this space. With native advertising spend predicted to surpass $85 billion globally in 2020, it would be shocking if we don’t see more agencies looking to get their share of it next year.
I’ve also been approached on more than one occasion by agency owners this year asking to help them create a paid content distribution team or native advertising team. This isn’t coincidence.
I predict whole specialized service lines built around native advertising from agencies in 2018.
7. The Native Advertising Technology Landscape will Surpass 500 Vendors
This year alone we’ve seen the native advertising technology landscape move from 272 native ad tech companies to nearly 370, and there’s no reason to believe this trend will slow down in 2018. In fact, on the contrary, it will likely speed up. If the Chief MarTech lumascape is any example, surpassing 500 vendors in 12 months is being conservative.
Those are my seven predictions for 2018 folks. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that number five doesn’t happen - we’ll know next month what our fate will be.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this list is that we’re entering a new era of transparency with paid media, whether native or not. And AI and blockchain will have a transformative impact on all paid media.
This post was first published on the Relevance blog.