Digital Trends for 2018

So, what’s tipped to make waves in 2018, digitally speaking?

Apart from 2018's Colour of the Year according to Pantone (Ultra Violet, nicely tied in with our blog imagery, oh yes indeed), there are a few things worth drilling into.

 

So we took a dive into the state of digital as it stands, and where it’s predicted to go, and came up with these nine areas to consider for this year, which is shaping up to be a Digital Doozy.

But only if you don’t stand still.

 

1. Content is still king (but there’s an abdication and a coronation).

Content remains at the heart of everything: without content, there is no internet! But the nature of content is changing. Social media, fast becoming our main form of communication, has created a swathe of content generators. Subsequently, audiences prefer more real, unfiltered and authentic content. It should be based on storytelling as people look for the reality behind the hype: that polished eBook or white paper may need to give way to shorter, more specific and compelling blog or video content. When it comes to content in 2018, you do you.

 

2. Personalisation: Relevance is more important than reach.

Personalisation is where the visitor is automatically shown personalised pages based on anticipated needs or wants; a real-time experience with content being personalised to suit each visitors’ unique requirement, guiding them through a custom conversion. 2018 is set to see this method further implemented in marketing strategies and digital builds. Artificial Intelligence platforms are being used more to analyse data, serving up the most relevant content to each user based on their preferences and demographics. As competition for attention becomes more fierce, the more personalised the messaging, the better. Reach is great, but there’s little point in talking to a whole lot of people if what you’re saying means nothing to them.

 

3. Mobile continues to grow (and Google ramps things up).

The importance of mobile optimised content is no secret but its growth is set to continue throughout 2018. Mobile optimisation is still hugely critical. Google is set to launch a mobile-first index in early 2018, meaning that the mobile version of a site is used to rank results. This happens regardless of how the user accesses the content. So, if you’re not mobile optimised, it might be worth taking stock this year. (Check out our blog for more information on mobile optimisation).


4. Augmented reality. It’s a reality.

The use of Augmented Reality (AR) based apps will grow – check out this roundup of some great examples here. Social media will see more AR as brands integrate it into their customer engagement strategies, creating sponsored content based on location, for example. 

 

5. Chatbots: Conversation is not a dying art.

Currently 60% of Millennials claim they’ve interacted with a bot. And it’s expected that in 2018 users will expect a bot on websites they visit. Although Chatbots deal with the most basic, regular and menial issues, there is still a place for human based customer service: conversation has been referred to as “the original user interface”. Another bonus of using Chatbots is they can free up time spent by social media marketing teams on monitoring and analysing, in order to concentrate on content creation. For example, the New York Times recently used a Chatbot to recommend and automate some 300 social media posts daily. 

 

6. Intelligence of the artificial kind.

In AI terms, Facebook has pioneered the use of facial recognition for social media (every time someone is tagged, the image is added to a huge database of images. Now Facebook claim they can accurately identify someone 98% of the time). This can be used for a brand’s social strategy too:

“Imagine brands asking people to give permission to be recognised in return for offers while they’re out and about. Say, there’s a guy waiting for a bus for ages in front of digital screen running a beer campaign. If that person likes that brand on Facebook you can foresee either the screen saying “hi” and giving him or her a voucher code for a free beer or triggering a voucher to be delivered to their Facebook inbox”.

  • Andy Pringle, Performics

AI can also help the social media team, e.g. sifting through real enquries vs bot accounts, prioritising high-profile users and identifying the most engaged audience members / users.

 

7. The changing face of search.

Google claim 20% of their current total searches are from voice, strongly suggesting that the conventional text-based SEO principles need to be addressed. SEO needs to focus on voice as well as text searches. Image search is tipped to improve dramatically in 2018. Armed with a smartphone and the right app, you can search for any number of items (CamFind is a good example). Like that handbag? Take a snap and find out what it is and where to buy it. Easy (and dangerous, if you like handbags).

 

8. Native advertising. It's friendly.

“Native” ads, hiding your product in plain sight –as opposed to interruptive ads, are expected to dominate in 2018. Editorial, infomercials and to some extent influencer endorsements are expected to grow dramatically as users turn their backs on the more traditional forms of digital advertising. Business Insider predicts these methods of advertising will drive almost 75% of all ad revenue by 2020.

 

9. More video, but less of it.

Video, already the most consumed media type for social, is predicted to make up 80% of all online internet traffic in 2020. Competition is fierce and the first three seconds are all-important (that’s how long you have before your audience decides to stay or scroll). The 6 second video is also coming into its own as the internet becomes crowded and attention spans dwindle. Live video, but professionally shot, is also tipped to emerge in 2018 as brands look to further engage their audience via social media.