Let's Review My 2018 Predictions

Once again, it’s that time of year to look back and also forward. As a MediaPost contributor, I have always held myself publicly accountable on this forum at year’s end. Initially I did this by looking at the data that my writing delivered: likes, shares, volume of comments, etc.

Then we got wiser and learned that those metrics are perhaps not really good indicators of performance (and if you still use these, get smart!). So I switched to predicting the future. Let’s see how we did, for 2018, shall we? Consider it my end-of-year performance review.

What I predicted for 2018: 

  • In 2018, voice-controlled assistants are not going to break through as a marketing platform. I think that is proving to be true. To be sure, penetration is definitely up, and some marketers are paying attention (Marriott hotels is putting Alexa in hotel rooms as a test and digital agency Barbarian replaced its receptionist with Alexa). But voice-controlled assistants are not a mass marketing medium. I maintain my skepticism rating for 2019.
  • In 2018, Big Data will continue to confuse marketers rather than enlighten them. Again, and only based on my own observations, this continues to be true. Data still lives in numerous silos, it remains a hugely complex (and often manual) task to scrub and organize it, and Excel still seems to be the most widely used tool for Big Data! This prediction, too, will remain in effect in 2019.
  • In 2018, AI will not be a breakthrough marketing platform, despite some predicting it will take over everything. I will say that I was half right, but therefore also half wrong. AI is definitely permeating marketing, but more so in analytics and marketing tech. As a “household platform” it remains mostly far removed from everyday life. For 2019, I will predict that AI will continue to grow in data, analytics, social media and marketing tech.
  • In 2018, I shared my continued frustration with chatbots and automated voice systems. Why does it take two minutes to answer a bewildering number of options and questions at Wells Fargo, or PSNC (my energy supplier)? And then when you get through to a human being, they ask for most of that information again. I now start shouting “representative” to any automated phone system that tries to engage with me, short-circuiting its ability to help me with answers (it never does). This doesn’t make the process go any faster, but I do take satisfaction from the automated voice telling me “I am having trouble with your answers” and then connecting me with a human. This mess will continue forever, until the sun dies and the earth with it.



So that was what I outlined for 2018. I will add the following for 2019:

  • Agency holding company consolidation. WPP’s Mark Read is on a fast track to get the WPP ship back in order, and his strategy seems to make sense. The harder challenge will be to differentiate new beasts like VMLY&R, “J. Wunderman Thomas”, etc. from one another and from WPP as the mothership. If Keith Weed and Marc Pritchard keep asking for integrated everything under one roof, perhaps WPP only needs one roof?
  • Social media backlash: the Facebook and Google firestorm will continue. And while companies like Marriott or Equifax keep shedding all your vitals, the real challenge for Facebook and Google will be to appease governments, investors, marketers — and, above all, consumers.

Happy holidays!

2 comments about "Let's Review My 2018 Predictions".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. John Grono from GAP Research, December 17, 2018 at 3:35 p.m.

    And Maarten, I predict that your predictions will again be pretty much on the money.

  2. Krista Hill from Facebook, December 17, 2018 at 4:52 p.m.

    Re: chatbots and automated voice systems - I now start shouting “representative”

    I laughed out loud and shared with colleagues as I do the exact same thing #stillcrying

Next story loading loading..