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
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.