Little time, lots of voice: Marketer predictions for 2018

Rosie Baker
By Rosie Baker | 22 December 2017

Marketers have again had a tough year in 2017 - things are changing faster than anyone can realistically keep up. But with that comes opportunities and it's a foolish marketer that isn’t a bit excited at the same time as being scared of what's coming.

AdNews asked a handful of marketers what they saw coming in the year ahead. Their predictions range from likely realities to wishful thinking: The rise of predictive personalisation, voice changing everything, Amazon merely rocking the boat, blockchain changing the digital supply chain, to the creative pendulum swinging back and marketers realising that not all promotion is good promotion. 

Brent Smart, IAG CMO:

Next year there’ll be even more content fighting for what precious little time people have. It’s the biggest challenge we face as marketers. Those same time poor people somehow manage to find the time to binge watch a whole series of Stranger Things, listen to the latest Serial podcast or to swipe left, left, left, right. Because that stuff is entertaining and interesting and useful. And too much marketing is none of those things, so goes unnoticed. More marketers will realise that a lot of ad tech is better at looking like it caused a sale than actually causing it; so the creative pendulum may just swing back to big ideas that are entertaining and interesting and useful and get noticed.

Therese Kallie, Nestle director of marketing and communications:

Its hard to imagine that five years ago there was no Uber, Airbnb, Hello Fresh or many other shared economy platforms – by the end of 2018 it will be hard to imagine a world without Amazon – but while change is constant we need to continue to pivot using the principles that continue to sustain big brands in an increasingly undifferentiated and commoditized market.

So while the world is now digital and we have the ability to stalk and pester consumers all day everyday if we have the money to do so – we will not fall into the trap of assaulting people with unwanted messages, trying to be their friends on their personal friendship sites and believing that all promotion is good promotion. For Nestle the 2018 challenge is to move away from the vectors that have become so predictable for Big Brand Marketers and to get back to doing more imaginative and relevant Brand Engagement work.Our work has shown people increasingly look for experiences and personalisation and are willing to pay more.

So our pursuit in 2018 is to think big, think different, create scale and content that delights, entertains and respects the role of the brand in consumers lives. This may mean a move away from the traditional mediums but we know this is necessary. The burden for us to is to lift the game – look for the best talent capable of thinking out of the box and delivering growth.

Ranita Cowled, Arnotts marketing manager:

I’m calling it the Amazon Effect. Whether it changes the world as we know it or rocks the boat even slightly, the combination of on-demand availability, variety & price will reset consumer expectations for how, where and why they choose products & brands.

Danielle Uskovic, Lenovo head of digital:

Technology is about to overturn decades of marketing thinking. An example is blockchain, the technology I'm most excited about. It's going to reset how we manage the digital supply chain. Many of its marketing implications have yet to be worked out - but its impact will be seismic, especially in areas such as contract transparency and reporting. Other technologies that will reset marketing are augmented reality, which will change every aspect of the way marketers interact with customers, and artificial intelligence and machine learning, which will automate anything repetitive and rote. Marketers who invest in creating new ways to tap these technologies will pull away and win. And the laggards will lose.

Penny Rowland, Australian Ballet director of marketing, commercial & audience development:

Australians are desperately searching for honesty from the brands they’re passionate about. For me, 2018 will require courageous leadership: courage in backing that game-changing idea, courage in delivering authentic brand-building storytelling campaigns rather than short-term tactics, and courage in improving the customer experience by investing in powerful technology solutions rather than tinkering around the sides. Experimenting with emerging tech and building new revenue streams will also be crucial in ensuring a sustainable business. And given the political climate, marketers will need to lead their organisations in deciding their role in the cultural landscape. Staying quiet on important societal issues will not cut it in the future.  

Nicole McInnes, Woolworths head of eCom marketing:

2018 will be the year of voice. It is the first in a long line of exciting but unnatural innovations that actually fits human behaviour - basically the "you look like a noob" factor is very low, unlike VR/AR et al. As the machine learning aka ‘AI’, behind each device advances so will their penetration. I’m going out there in a ‘Shingy’ kinda way and saying Voice may be for this generation, what touchscreen was to the last. On a personal level lets make 2018 the year digital and traditional marketing, becomes just marketing. Putting the customer at the centre of everything we do, means accepting that they may not be as excited about Blockchain as we are, with the goal to be humbly relevant along with generating a smile, or preferably a belly laugh, every now and then.

Nikki Lawson, YUM Brands chief marketing & development officer:

1.       Consumer tolerance for mediocre will vanish - With the fast acceleration of companies using tech to deliver frictionless and engaging customer experiences.  Brands that fail to do so and continue to deliver mediocre experiences will increasingly fail.  So to survive (I predict J) you will need to deliver an exceptional functional benefit or an exceptional emotive experience with high aesthetic appeal.  The ‘experience economy’ will start to determine brand success.

2.       Corporate trust will continue to dissolve with the internal culture of companies defining the brands - The ability for the marketing departments to shape the definition of the brand will continue to weaken as consumers push for corporate transparency and support the voice of employees to show light on the ‘truth’ of brands

3.       Standard TV ad formats will be challenged - the growth of 6-second ads and alternative video formats beyond the traditional 15 and 30-second spot are proving powerful in drives sales and brand engagement.  This will challenge the mainstream status quo and open up different ways to buy media on traditional channels

Mary Ellen Dugan, WP Engine global chief marketing officer:

2018 marks the shift from personalisation to predictive personalisation. Generation Z, the oldest of whom turns 21 this year, has lived their entire lives on the internet. While they aren't as advertising adverse as their older counterparts, they have much higher expectations for authenticity, entertaining interactions with brands and experiences that predict and provide what they need before they tell you. In fact, Gen Z is nearly 20% more likely than millennials to insist on a digital world where websites or apps can predict and provide what users need at all times. In 2018, Australian brands and agencies will need to invest more in technologies that get them developing those predictive experiences.

Cally Scivetti, Val Morgan marketing & strategy director:

As the industry challenges of 2017 are set to carry into 2018,  relationships will be hugely important and those that can deliver on promises and offer absolute transparency and accountability will be the winners.  For brands, strong and meaningful omni-channel consumer interactions will become even more imperative and in 2018 there will be an increasing trend to look internally and build innovation, technology and data capabilities.  

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