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Key Digital Trends for 2018

By Marshall Manson & James Whatley

@MarshallManson / @Whatleydude / @OgilvyUK

For the past five years, two of Ogilvy’s digital leaders, Marshall
Manson and James Whatley, have collaborated on an annual trend
report outlining where they believe the digital and social landscape is
headed and what brands and agencies should do as a result.

As is tradition, this document — the fifth annual edition — is made up

of two parts (and by two, we mean three): first, a brief review and
grading of their 2017 predictions; and second, a look ahead to what
the future holds in 2018.

This year, we’re kicking off with a special bonus section. A ‘prelude’, if
you will. Because it’s our fifth year and because it’s Marshall’s last at
Ogilvy, we’ve also reflected on some of the longer-term trends that
we’ve seen emerge and stick around from year to year.

Thanks for joining us. Let’s dive right in.

Prelude: Reflecting on Five Years of Predictions
Some things change; some things stay the same.

Reflecting on Five The Demise of Organic Reach & The Pivot to Targeted
Years of Predictions We’ve included some discussion of organic content and the pivot to paid targeting in
every trends report we’ve done, and also our stand-alone Facebook Zero report,
which came out in March 2014. It’s arguably the biggest change in social media
marketing over the last five years.

The Transformation Continues

For 2015, we predicted that Twitter would move to algorithmic content serving. It did.
Instagram followed a year later. Although brands can still expect some useful
organic reach in both platforms, the best opportunity remains the kind of targeting
that we’ve been talking about since 2014.

Various observers have revisited the organic reach question recently, hoping to
rediscover the land of milk, honey, and ‘free’ reach. Marshall summarised our view
on investing in this strategy recently:

“You might as well take your budget to the bank, cash it out in £20 notes, pile it up in
the parking lot and light it on fire.”

The Consequences of Algorithms

While we predicted that social platforms would move towards algorithmic content
serving, we didn’t predict the filter bubble, or the swift impact it would have on
western democracies. With governments now poised to begin regulating our news
feeds, the next wave of changes promises to be even more unpredictable.
Reflecting on Five The Emergence & Domination of Video
Years of Predictions
If you didn’t pour a bucket of ice over your head in 2014, were you even there?
Without the Facebook-adjusted newsfeed algorithm bolstering its chances (along with
a newly-minted sense of selfie-importance), the Ice Bucket Challenge would not have
been as fantastic as we remember it. Not only did it kick off Facebook’s successful
drive towards the video crown, this pivotal moment in social media history heralded
the dawn of the age of video.

Quick! Pivot to Video!

Facebook kicked ass. And, unsurprisingly, other platforms and publishers followed.
Platforms flourished (although the less said about that lifeless ‘LIVE’ push, the better)
and nearly every platform now has some kind of video creation or consumption central
to it. Be it silent, portrait, six-second or otherwise, video is everywhere. On the other
hand, publishers have struggled. With the slow demise of banner advertising, the lure
of video ad budgets (ignoring the comedy about what passes for a ’view’ these days)
has been very strong indeed. Creating good video can be cheap, but most try the
high-production path, and many, even the likes of Buzzfeed, find themselves cutting
where they expected to see growth.

Video is here to stay. If you’re going to do it you must acknowledge that competition is
fiercer than ever – so do it well.

Reflecting on Five Twitter’s Cloudy Future
Years of Predictions Let’s start with this: We love Twitter. We want it to do well. But it’s been in the
wilderness for a while. We’ve voiced concerns about it in four out of five reports.

Right and Wrong and Right Again

In our report for 2015, we commented on Twitter’s user growth inertia and
predicted its turn to algorithmic content serving. In 2016, we said that Twitter
daily frequency of use seemed to be dropping. In 2017, we predicted that Twitter
would have to retrench. With the exception of the move to algorithms, pretty
much all of this has proven debatable, at best. A lot of it was wrong.

Where to Go from Here?

In a global landscape defined by establishment vs. anti-establishment
movements, Twitter manages to serve both. It stays relevant because journalists
and influencers turn to it constantly. It’s also proven an effective venue for
insurgencies to circumvent establishment media and connect with supporters

Which is all fine. But Twitter still has big challenges with user growth and
usability. Expanding to 280 characters feels like a Band-Aid, although some early
data suggests users love it. After five years, we’re still waiting for a development
vision that makes sense. At least recent cost cutting and a plan to sell more of its
data means Twitter might soon turn a profit.
Reflecting on Five Everybody’s Doing Disposable Content
Years of Predictions
Are you sitting comfortably? Then let us add to Your Story.
Snapchat started it. Facebook copied it. And now everybody’s doing it. Way back
in our 2014 Trends presentation, we hailed Snapchat as the first major platform to
‘embrace the ephemeral’.

Today, you can’t open a single sharing app without being offered an option to
VIEW or CREATE or ADD to a ‘story’ of some kind. In late 2017, even the rarely-
innovative (but then why does it need to be?) YouTube played copycat with its
own take on the disappearing fad, unveiling ‘Reels’.

Monkey See, Monkey Do (Better)

Facebook has made no secret of the fact that Snapchat deserves ‘all the credit’
(credit, not profit) for its ongoing development roadmap. And it’s working. Recent
stats show that both the Instagram and Whatsapp iterations of Stories have user
numbers beating Snapchat’s by nearly 2:1. That’s insane.

Why is there such a love affair with the permanently temporary? Maybe, like the
collective post-relationship-status one-night stand, people want a great time, but
just want to make sure they can forget about it tomorrow.

Part 1: 2017 Predictions: How did we do?
Spoiler: A mixed bag of mixed bags

2017 Predictions: Trend 1: The Chatbot Gold Rush
How Did We Do? We said:
The chatbot opportunity is coming.

We advised:
Think about how chatbots could help you. Don’t add to the dross.

What happened:
The 33,000 bots we reported on Facebook last year has since tripled and,
while the gold ‘rush’ was more a leisurely jog – the tipping point of
experimentation is upon us. With not only many brands launching bots for
Christmas this year but also myriad other trend reports citing bots as one to
watch for 2018. Sure they are.

How did we do?

We were early on this but we still think it’s inevitable. The ’can it chat or not’
problem has been addressed (they’re just called ‘bots’ now) and brands are
slowly taking it in turns to see how bots can support their ongoing marketing
efforts. Campaign-led for now but soon… who knows?

Grade: B+
We were early on this one – and we’re OK with that (remember: you read it on
our trend report first, last year).
2017 Predictions: Trend 2: The Abdication Of Ethical Decision Making
How Did We Do? We said:
’The role of human decision-making will inevitably decline.’ That we would be
‘handing over choices about what’s right and wrong.’ And we wondered how to
‘embrace automation while protecting the ethical frameworks that make us human.’

We advised:
Marketers should prepare for big changes to well-understood concepts about
decision-making. And brands should ensure they understand the ethical
boundaries in which they operate.

What happened:
We weren’t the only ones thinking about this. WIRED called for an ethical watchdog
for AI research, and Google’s DeepMind AI subsidiary launched an ethical and
societal research group. Elon Musk asked governors in the U.S. to take steps to
regulate AI ‘before it’s too late.’ And a constructive discussion began to consider
This image was created by Inspirobot, which guidelines for AI ethics.
was developed to create inspirational posters
by learning from whatever it could find on the
Web. Fair to say it learned too well… How did we do?
It’s probably too soon to tell. The reality is that wasn’t really a 2017 trend. AI is
going to take a lot longer to evolve. But we need to pay attention. Now.


2017 Predictions: Trend 3: A Video First World
How Did We Do? We said:
For the content-snacking generation, video is now starter, main, and dessert.
And whether we like it or not, video is going to be the number one thing.

We advised:
Now’s the time to learn to love video. We advised you to get smart with video
creation – both in the reuse of existing assets as well as taking advantage of
free-to-use tools to give you a creative (and commercial) edge.

What happened:
Nearly everything in video grew and grew. And it would take 17 slides to list
the key points (from addition of sound to vertical video ad units, TV apps and
more). However one thing we shouldn’t miss is that LIVE didn’t really happen.
It’s a big bet that Facebook made that, so far, hasn’t really hit mass-
penetration (e.g.: Facebook no longer pays for Live video from publishers). If
we had billions in the bank, I doubt an ineffective TV campaign would keep us
up at night, but still…

How did we do?

We’ve been right about video every single year. 2017 was no different.

WINNER. #OgilvyTrends2018
2017 Predictions: Trend 4: Twitter Retrench
How Did We Do?
We said:
2016 was a hard year for Twitter. Eroding user base, a failed sale, and Trump. We
predicted Twitter would ‘narrow its focus to two key areas: data and influence.’

We advised:
Brands needed to expand their data sources and guard against over-reliance on
Twitter. Also, we suggested that ‘It’s time to reconsider Twitter as a platform for
influence. Success isn’t just about publishing. It’s about partnering with
influencers to co-create and reach their audiences.’

What happened:
Twitter didn’t really focus on data and influence in the way we expected. Instead,
they expanded to 280 characters. Trump continued to be the platform’s most
notable draw and its biggest troll. In October, Twitter announced it was on the
cusp of turning a profit for the first time ever.

How did we do?

Our prediction for retrenchment was clearly wrong. So we admit it: We don’t know
what’s going to happen. Thing is, Twitter doesn’t know either. To us, it feels like its
significance continues to wane, except when it’s indispensable.

WRONG – AND HAPPILY SO. #OgilvyTrends2018

2017 Predictions: Trend 5: Facebook’s Proprietary Metric Problem
How Did We Do? We said:
Facebook’s track record of delivering reliable, trustworthy metrics is, well,
awful. So, we predicted that ‘Facebook will have to give itself up to objective
third-party measurement.’

We advised:
Ignore the 220-odd measurements that Facebook offer you and revert to your
original toolset, be that brand-tracking, lead generation, or brand awareness.
Focus on the metrics that matter to your brand or business or agency.

What happened:
In February, Facebook agreed to open itself to Media Rating Council auditing.
Two weeks later, Google did the same, particularly for YouTube. In May,
Facebook revealed errors with view counts for video carousel ads. And in
November, Facebook refunded advertisers when it found even more errors in
how it was reporting video views.

How did we do?

Proprietary platform metrics remain hugely problematic. Metrics that track real
outcomes have to be central to any marketing effort.


Part 2: 2018 Predictions
One more time, with feeling

Trend 1: Augmented Reality Gets Real
My AR brings all the snark to the yard.


We’ve been here before…

Let’s get one thing clear: Augmented Reality is not a new

thing. It has been a very, very slow burn. From BlippAR-
integrated magazines to interactive head-tracking promotions
for movies, creative technologists, brands with more money
than sense, and agency innovation leads – you know the
kinds of people we’re talking about – have been trying to
make AR happen FOR YEARS.

And let’s be honest: it hasn’t.

But things are changing…

Ford in AR in 2008
BMW in AR 2017

…but the technology hasn’t

When we say ‘technology’ we don’t just mean the mass-

proliferation of high-end smartphones – although that is of
course one key driver. We also mean ‘technology’ in the
sense that AR has come on leaps and bounds since the
marker-led late attempts of the late noughties.

You only need to look at the recent Snap x Jeff Koons

partnership to see just how far AR has come. In fact,
Snapchat generally has led the way in the nu-AR world.

Finally, the other ‘technology’ we should acknowledge is

that of technology acceptance from consumers. We don’t
need special apps or markers – this tech is baked into the
apps already on your phone.

And it ain’t just Snapchat either.

Where Snap goes,
others follow...
If we can take anything from the last two
years, it’s this: Snap makes something.
Facebook copies it. Facebook makes it
successful. Others copy Facebook.

And that’s where we are right now:

Snap: AR at street level.

Facebook: introducing AR to the masses.
Google: AR stickers rolling out to Pixels.
Apple: bringing AR to its the latest iOS.



Defining AR Gets Real

Let’s Do a Roll Call
Proliferation of good mobile tech: check

Vastly improved AR platforms: check

Mass-user penetration of said platforms: check

Dancing wieners: check


Well, a recent report cited that the Facebook charm

offensive has kicked off in earnest on the brand front.

Snap have been hard at it with the Media agencies –

charging $1 million for an AR lens – and we don’t
doubt that Google will be entertaining the bigger
brands either.

How Do You Prepare for This?

Watch. Learn. Experiment.

This stuff is SUPER FRESH.

So, as ever, we want you to think about

the BUSINESS or USER problem you’re
trying to solve.

This IKEA example is a fantastic fit for

the brand because it uses AR to improve
the customer experience.

Get serious about this one
Facebook developer kit for AR.

ARkit for Apple.

AR stickers for Pixel.

AR in 2018 is going to be everywhere.

It may be as simple as creating a custom bitmoji

for your brand character or it may be speaking to
your FB or Google rep about how you get on the
AR train early. Don’t blow your money on Snapchat
activations. Look at where the real cut-through is

Our advice: speak to the professionals. Now.

Trend 2: The End of Typing

Voice and Image Recognition Become the Dominant Interface


Search is Moving Towards Voice

ComScore says that 50% of searches will be done by voice

by 2020. Gartner believes that by 2020, 30% of searches
won’t involve a screen at all.

At present, Google says that 20% of searches in the U.S. on

Android devices are done by voice. In the UK, Deloitte
found that 36% of smartphone owners are aware of voice
search and 11% use it regularly. 60% of people using voice
have started in the last year, according to Mindmeld.

Voice searches are three times more likely to focus on a

local topic than a text search.
Source: Mindshare / JWT Speak Easy survey Feb 2017;
n = 292 UK regular voice users (at least once per week)
Q: Which of the following are reasons that you use voice commands?
And people are shifting to voice for the obvious reason: It’s
easier and more efficient than typing.

Voice Assistants are Exploding

More people are using voice assistants, both on

smartphones and on dedicated speaker units that are
increasingly dotted around connected homes.

Usage grew 22% in 2017, according to eMarketer, and the

pattern moves towards classic hockey stick by 2020.

Users Think That’s ‘Cool’

According to one survey, Voice is cool, not creepy, and

there’s lots of excitement about its potential, especially
compared to other emerging technologies.

Voice seems to have real potential, without carrying

perceived privacy risk for users.

Reliability is Improving

Voice assistants are doing a better job of

understanding what we say. Over the last
few years, error rates on language
understanding have steadily dropped.
Microsoft and Google both now boast error
rates for their voice devices on par with
human levels of understanding – an error
rate of just 5%. Google reportedly had its
Home AI reading thousands of romance
novels per day in order to improve its
language skills.

Meanwhile, they are also getting better at

answering our questions. According to an
analysis by Stone Temple, which posed
5,000 questions to the top four assists,
Google’s Home product scored best.

The Ecosystem is Evolving Fast, and Still Very Fluid

Amazon is the dominant player in the voice-

enabled speaker market. But Google’s Home
product has made a strong push since its debut.
And Apple’s Homepod is due out early in 2018.

Needless to say, the market for these devices will

continue to grow swiftly in 2018.

It’s More Than Search.
It’s a New Kind of Interface.

The most common uses are pretty utilititarian. But that’s

changing, as users ask for help planning travel and
managing their day.

Humans can speak 150 words per minute, while typing on

mobile tops out at 40 words per minute. And the tech has
improved dramatically. Error rate from speech recognition
is down to 5 percent.

So people find it faster and more accurate that text. And

they can use it while driving.

Occasions are Important
For the moment, we most commonly use voice
commands when are hands are busy doing something
else. But behaviour evolves as users get more
comfortable and confident.

There’s also the politeness question. We’re far more

likely to turn to voice when we’re alone. Talking to our
phone or our helpful speaker when other people are
around is, for the time being, still pretty weird. But this is
sure to evolve too.

Brands are developing tasks to allow customers easier

and more efficient access to their products and
services. But no one has quite cracked it. And, as we
showed earlier, brands don’t turn up in the list of uses,
really at all, at least for now.

It’s Not Just Voice. It’s Innovative
Image & Video Use.

Voice is growing fast, but there’s innovation in other

areas too.

Snapchat has been a big driver of innovation around

interaction via images, but others are coming up fast,
including a pay-by-facial-recognition technology that
will soon be piloted in the UK.

So Search is About to Get Visual, Too

Google began rolling out Google Lens to all Pixel phone users in
November 2017. Lens is an image recognition technology connected
to its Google Assistant. It will inevitably roll out to Android users in the
coming months, and other smart phone makers are sure to follow with
their own image recognition technologies.

What’s exciting about this isn’t the technology. It’s the interface: The
opportunity to dive directly from what you see into whatever you want
to know and learn. In the short term, it has huge implications for
cultural experiences and sports. In the longer term, it will be a big
part of changing how we interact with the Web.

Defining the End of Typing

Defining the End of Typing
In virtually every form of technology, user interfaces are
evolving away from fingers and thumbs and towards less
tactile forms of interaction like voice and images.

Users will increasingly engage with technology in more

natural and instinctive ways. Technology will have to do a
better job of understanding us and all of the nuance that
comes with natural language.

The implications for brands are tremendous.

They affect how information and content are developed

and delivered. They especially affect SEO and SEM, but
will increasingly impact how apps and platforms are
developed, and whether they are well designed for voice
and other non-tactile interfaces. A whole new generation
of UX design is born…

How Do You Prepare for This?

Think about ‘Voice search engine optimisation’
What happens when you ask Google, or Siri, or Alexa to
search for your brand or product?

What happens when you search for the common queries

behind using your brand or product?

Right now, Google doesn’t allow you to buy against spoken

vs typed search queries (like you can re: desktop v mobile
for example) so you have to work within what’s available.

It’s also worth pointing out that at the time of publishing

voice search doesn’t really exists. It is voice-to-text search.
You speak, it converts to text, conducts the search, and
returns the result. Use this, test your brand, your product,
your FAQs. What can you fix/change? Now’s the time.

Side note: Do not make the Burger King ad. Hijack is a bad
word for a reason.

Partners Look After Each Other
Next thing to think about is your partner relationships.

You want to make sure that when your consumers say

‘Hey Alexa, what’s the best moisturiser?’ it comes back
with the right answer.

‘OK Google, play me some music.’

‘Here’s your playlist from Spotify.’

Ensuring that you’ve thought ahead on this stuff is

critically important. What’s to stop one change on the
voice search side completely making your brand

’Hey Google, send a text message?’

‘Sure, sending via AT&T right now.’

Not gonna happen.

It’s Yet Another Brand Touchpoint

What is the vocal equivalent of ‘the brand in your hand’?

Who is the voice of your brand? What does your brand
sound like? On radio, on YouTube, and now, in Alexa,
Google Home, or Apple Homepod.

Destiny, a popular video game, recently used its voice

actors to voice a new Amazon Skill.

As an agency that regularly hires voice talent for digital

content, TV and even radio, we can’t help but imagine
that recording an ‘Amazon skill’ could be an easy add-on
for this.

Voice is Just Another Input

We're fairly sure voice isn't going to take

the place of all other user interaction. For
a start, voice is highly situational.

That said, if you consider voice as just

another input, you should make sure that
the data the user is querying is going to
serve up the correct response.

Yes, the input/output is snazzy and new

but the black box it plugs into should be
the same – and it should be secure.

Trend 3: The Tragedy of the Commons
in Influencer Marketing

If Everyone Only Works for Themselves, the Common Opportunity Suffers


Tragedy of the Commons… WTF?
In 1833, Oxford Economist William Forster Lloyd first explored
the idea of the ‘Tragedy of the Commons.’ Ecologist Garett
Hardin brought the expression into the modern era in 1968
with an article in the journal Science which worried about
human overpopulation.

The idea is simple: When it comes to common assets or

shared opportunities, it’s in everyone’s individual interest to
take as much as possible from the common and minimise the
amount of time and resource they invest in maintaining it.

Lloyd used the cattle of England to illustrate the problem.

Cows grazed on private land tended to be healthy and well
cared for. Cows grazed on shared land – held in ‘common’ in
the parlance of English property lawyers – were ‘puny and
stunted.’ So he wondered, ‘Why is the common itself so bare-
worn, and cropped so differently from the adjoining

Influencer Marketing is Hot, Again

Influencer Relations or Influencer Marketing first gained

prominence in 2005 when communications and marketing
people discovered the potential value of engaging with
bloggers. In the succeeding years, blogging moved into the
mainstream and the ‘buzz’ went elsewhere.

The rise of YouTube and Instagram brought it back. Influence

is hot again, and it’s exciting. Real co-creation with
influencers can bring big benefits and deliver huge reach,
often to audiences that are otherwise hard for brands to
access. That’s why earlier this year, 84% of marketers told
eMarketer that they would launch an influencer marketing
campaign in the next 12 months.

But with attention and buzz comes a lot of nonsense and too
many bad actors. The problem is that these bad actors can
put the whole common opportunity at risk.

Wrecking the Common with
Influencer marketing only works when the communications are
authentic – from the perspective of the audience. When
influencers are offered a load of cash to pimp the latest product
or service, the audience is usually tolerant for a while. But when
an influencer veers towards shill too often, credibility loss and
audience erosion are sure to follow.

We know this because we’ve seen it before – with celebrities. isn’t a particularly valuable partner for brands these days
(in our opinion), because everyone knows he’s for sale. And yet,
some agencies and lots of brands are happy to stump up to
established and emerging digital influencers and expect that the
influencer will become a spokesperson for the brand.

Over time, this threatens to disrupt the opportunity for everyone

as audiences question the credibility not just of individual
influencers, but of the whole medium.

Defining the Tragedy of the Commons in
Influencer Marketing

Defining the Tragedy of the
Commons in Influencer Marketing
Too many brands and agencies throw money at influencers
and direct them to make content and endorse products that
undermine their authenticity.

The industrialisation of influencer marketing through agents,

agencies, and budgets that are too big in comparison to the
potential for real impact only makes the problem worse.

Over time, this threatens the whole common opportunity,

and even brands and agencies who are doing it right will
suffer as credibility in the entire medium declines.

In 2018, influencer marketing will continue to grow, but we

are concerned that cracks will begin to show, especially at
the high-end where digital influencers straddle the line
between influencer and celebrity.

How Do You Prepare for This?

Embrace Influencer Marketing
But Do It Right

Influencer Marketing will continue to grow in 2018, and it

should. Instagram and YouTube will define this era of
communications in the way that TV defined the last one.
Brilliant creative minds are inventing new ways to tell stories
and have conversations that audiences love. Brands should
work hard to join the medium.

But applying the old methods to this new medium

guarantees failure for the brand and helps undermine the the
whole medium.

Embrace new methods and new forms of creativity. Start

here: If it’s not a little uncomfortable, it’s too conventional.
Push harder.

Co-Create and Be Authentic
Brands need to practice some simple rules for Influencer
Marketing success:

1. Compensate, don’t over-pay. Influencers deserve to be

compensated for their time and trouble the same as any
partner. But avoid the ridiculous. Too much cash distorts
the value for everyone.

2. Follow the rules. Most countries now have requirements

that influencers include ‘ad’ tags. Do this.

3. Protect authenticity at all costs. If you can’t come up with a

concept that’s authentic for both brand and influencer,
don’t go forward.

4. Remember: Co-create, don’t instruct. Be ready to hand

over creative control to the influencer. You picked them
because you loved what they were doing and, more
importantly, so does their audience. Trust them to create
something that will work.

Trend 4: The Amazon Awakening
Something is stirring in Seattle…


The ‘Digital Duopoly’

Google and Facebook, the ‘digital duopoly’

account for 84% of the global digital media
spend (while the rest are shrinking).

This is not a healthy marketplace – and

something has to give.

Note: we’re not saying that Amazon will dislodge

this dominance – but it’s a reason for it to take
the market seriously.

Next, there’s the quarterly reports

On its Q3 2017 earnings call, Amazon announced that its

’other revenue’ (aka ‘ad sales’) business grew to just over
$1bn US.

To give this context, Google’s quarterly ad sales revenue is

around $24bn while Facebook’s is $10bn.

Some serious catching up to do but with 58% growth rate

YOY, it is one of Amazon’s fastest growing businesses.

‘Amazon’s tentacles are
We get it, we’re Ogilvy, we’re owned by WPP, and to spreading rapidly
mention our lord and master may seem a tad sycophantic into all areas’
BUT when Sir Martin Sorrell speaks out about a brand, we
and – to be fair – the collective advertising industry at large
should sit up and pay attention.

Speaking at the MWC in 2017, Sir Martin said:

“The gap between Google and Facebook in terms of our

numbers has lessened, but Google is still of paramount
importance. The threat to Google, which I discussed [with them]
yesterday in San Francisco, is Amazon.

“It’s search on Amazon that is potentially the biggest threat.”

Defining the Amazon Awakening

It’s simple:
§ Amazon Display
§ Audible
Amazon will be the most important
emerging platform for digital
advertising in 2018.
§ Kindle/Fire Ads
This is not about product pages. DISCOVERY § Prime Now
§ Amazon Home Services
It’s about thinking of Amazon as a
useful platform for advertising in every
part of the sales funnel.
§ Alexa Deals
And they’ve got the product suite to SALES § Coupons/Discounts
match. § Events (Prime Day)

§ Subscribe n Save
RETENTION § Echo Skills
§ Dash Buttons

How Do You Prepare for This?

Get Savvy AF, Fast
If you’re new to this, get yourself to and read up.

There are a LOT of ad solutions (not counting the ones

listed on the previous chart).

Having just a working knowledge of this full suite,

along with the variety of options available to new ad-
buyers is worth spending time on.

Remember: being savvy also means having the right


The experts in the room say that FOR NOW, if you

don’t sell anything on Amazon, it probably isn’t worth
spending on (yet). Stay close to this one, it’s a

Trend 5: Seriously Serious

Privacy, Data Security, GDPR & Government-Backed Attacks


The Web Has Issues
The Internet has now been with us for about a generation.
A technological revolution ushered in by idealists, the
Web offered real hope for better dialogue, more
transparency, and a pure marketplace for ideas and
informed opinion. Books like The Cluetrain Manifesto
offered a vision for business in this new environment that
was full of optimism.

Some of us still believe in this vision, but it’s fair to say

that the bloom is off the rose.

Trolls, the dark web, attacks on individual privacy, hyper-

efficient spread of misinformation, and hacking as foreign
policy tool increasingly pose threats that rightly attract
attention from governments.

For marketers, there are problems with fraud and

effectiveness, and real questions about whether
investments in digital marketing are worthwhile.

Trolls Under Every Bridge

Trolling has a become a massive, disruptive problem

across the Web. Hiding behind a cloak of anonymity,
everyone from public figures to journalists and students
are subjected to a wave of abuse.

The increase in trolling has been fuelled by the President

of the United States, Donald Trump, who is arguably
Twitter’s most prodigious and effective troll, and also, the
platform’s most significant user.

Government-Sponsored Hacking
In the last year, we’ve seen a significant increase in
governments publicly implicated in major security
breaches around the world.

North Korea allegedly stole U.S. war plans from Pentagon

computers, tried to rob the Federal Reserve bank in New
York, and kicked off a ransomware attack that crippled
the NHS in the UK.

State-sponsored hackers connected to China, Russia,

Iran, and even the U.S. have reportedly attacked security
institutions and private businesses in every corner of the
globe. Pseudo-state actors like Wikileaks seem to operate
with state support in some instances.

These hacks pose huge threats to information security.

Everything from product innovations to personal credit
card details are exposed and exploited.

Attacks on Privacy
Announcements about major data breaches came thick
and fast in 2017.

• Uber lost 57 million customer records

• Yahoo as many as 3 billion
• US-based credit bureau Equifax lost 143 million.
• UK health insurer BUPA lost 500,000.
• Restaurant app Zomato lost 17 million.
• UK mobile operator Three, payday lender Wonga,
Mexican food chain Chipotle, accountancy Deloitte,
clothing shop Brooks Brothers, and even the U.S.
Securities Exchange Commission all acknowledged
serious security breaches and data loss.

This list should make you cry.

The volume of private data that’s stolen is only exceeded

by the data we freely share about ourselves, to be
aggregated and used for media targeting.

Outages Damage Productivity,
Waste Cash
The result of attacks, hacking, and intrusions has been a
serious of increasingly damaging and widespread

Ransomware attacks become commonplace in 2017,

with major attacks early in the year giving way to the
most impactful (as yet) which originated in the Ukraine in
June and spread around the world. The attacks cost
Merck more than $300 million, Maersk as much as $200
million and FEDEX at least $300 million. Across WPP, we
and many of our colleagues were left idle for hours and,
occasionally, days (according to public reports).

And that wasn’t the biggest impact. One report revealed

that small businesses were the hardest hit, with many
forced to cease trading entirely for days or even weeks.

We’re Even Doing
Passwords Wrong

Yep. That annoying protocol that forces you to change

your password every six weeks? And have different
passwords for every system at work? And use crazy
combinations of special characters so passwords are
impossible to remember?


For Marketers,
the Story is Ad Fraud

The up-to-no-good brigade isn’t just picking on individual

web users and trolling celebs. They’re after marketers too.

Depending on whose numbers you believe, ad fraud may

affect 20 percent or more of all digital display advertising,
and was forecast to reach $16.4 billion in 2017.

And Government is Getting
More and More Hands-On

2018 will see the roll-out of the General Data Protection

Regulation (GDPR), the EU’s latest attempt to regulate the
handling of consumer information. And unlike previous
regulatory regimes, this one comes with real teeth,
including big fines for non-compliance and breaches.

Meanwhile, legislators and policy-makers in most western

countries, especially the U.S. and UK, are pressuring
Facebook, Google, Twitter and other platforms to crack
down on Fake News following allegations that state-
backed hackers supported primarily by Russia have been
using the platforms to meddle in elections.

Calls for outright regulation are starting to emerge.

Image from:

Defining Seriously Serious

Defining Seriously Serious
Digital marketing has grown up. So has the Web as a whole.
Both the grown up practice and the grown up medium are
facing serious challenges which will and must be addressed
in 2018.

GDPR represents a positive step. There is also an array of

initiatives to address problems with fraud in digital display
and confront client concerns about programmatic buying.
Platforms are working to make measurement more
transparent and deliver a clearer link between marketing
activity and business outcomes. A lot of progress will be
made in 2018, but not enough.

Governments will have to make progress on state-sponsored

hacking. The security industry will have to make big progress
to protect us from the ever-increasing volume of madness.
These are needs well beyond the purview of marketers and
probably unrealistic for much progress in 2018.

How Do You Prepare for This?

Get Ready for GDPR
GDPR promises to bring the biggest change to marketing
practices, especially digital marketing, in a very long time.
The requirements are detailed and specific, and the
penalties can be extreme.

But it isn’t the big, obvious areas that will require the most
attention. Everyone will get to grips with data handling for
big CRM databases and new requirements for e-mail opt-
in, data breach notifications, and data portability.

The challenges are in the subtle areas that we don’t think

much about. Consider CV handling, for example.
Circulating someone’s CV with their address and phone
might run afoul of the regulations. Or not. Who’s to say?

And what about responsibility for managing third-parties?

It’s difficult and opaque. But compliance is essential for
anyone with customers or contacts in the EU.
Helpful background on GDPR here:

Treat GDPR as an Opportunity

Our friend and Ogilvy customer experience expert Matt Holt

suggests a bolder approach to GDPR:

Use it as a means to get on the front foot with your


Have a grown up conversation with them about how you

intend to use their data, and the benefits for them.

Matt says that ‘the smart brands will be the ones that
embrace and instigate this conversation and do it well. If
they do this then the future of marketing and customer
experience is exciting, plural, individualised, and


Protect Against Fraud:
Prioritise Sharing
It’s pretty hard to see the value of digital display advertising
given the prevalence of fraud, especially abuse of view and
click stats from bots.

Keep digital display to an absolute minimum, and focus it on

sites and networks where there’s real impact and value.

The best way to prevent fraud is to focus digital activities on

creating content that earns audience attention. Sure, paid
will be essential for attracting initial attention to a new piece
of content. But the best way to prevent fraud is to prioritise
sharing – behaviour that doesn’t lend itself very well to bots.

If it doesn’t earn, it doesn’t work. That’s best way to address

fraud. Also, a pretty good approach to your communications.

Take Security Seriously
Let’s be honest: in general, marketing people are terrible
about security. After all, who has time to read e-mails from IT?

‘Memory stick?! Thanks! Left my last one in meeting room.’

In 2016, Gartner predicted that by the end of 2017, CMOs

would spend more on technology than CIOs.

If that’s the case, marketers have a responsibility to ensure

security is considered and handled seriously, and to listen to
IT colleagues who are the real experts in protecting us from
the gremlins and trolls lurking, well, everywhere.

• Use secure file transfer services. No more WeTransfer.

• Don’t use the memory stick you got free at that thing.
• Don’t click on links in e-mails from senders you don’t know.
• Pay attention to your security experts. They’re trying to hold
off hacks from well funded governments. Make their lives
easier, not harder.

And we’re done!

Bonus Noodles
Stuff We Thought About, But Didn’t Quite
Merit The Full Trend Treatment

Social Platform as Paid Service
In 2018, Whatsapp will formally launch its enterprise level service for brands. The most interesting thing about this move is
that we believe for the first time in history, larger brands will be charged for simply existing on the platform. Even a pay-per-
1000 user model would help bolster Whatsapp’s ambition to never have to sell ads.

We’re yet to see it happen. That’s why it’s only a Noodle, but it would be quite a leap on the social media evolutionary scale.



2008 2013 2018

Community building Facebook Zero Whatsapp for Business

Not Everything is CRITICAL!!
Social media tempts us to turn every topic, story, idea, and
PAY ATTENTION TO ME RIGHT NOW. The examples of this are so
numerous and widespread we hardly need cite any – and can’t be
bothered to screenshot anything more anyway.

There’s lots of blame to go around on this. Silly, clickbait headlines

that we all click because, well, we’re collectively pretty gullible. The
ego boost we get when lots of people like and share what we have
to say. A political dialogue that’s too hyperbolic and too angry.

There are lots of problems with this. First, it’s not good to be angry
all of the time. It makes us boring and mean. And not everything
matters. In fact, most things don’t matter. But it’s hard to have
perspective. Still, we need to expect more of ourselves. Practice
more perspective.

If pressed, however, our Noodle for 2018 is that there will be yet

A Closing Note from Marshall
Come spring, I’m off to new professional horizons just across town, which means this is my last
trends report for Ogilvy. On that basis, I hope you’ll indulge me a quick personal thought.

This trends report was born out of frustration: I kept reading trends reports that breathlessly
predicted THE YEAR OF PERSONALISATION or the YEAR OF BIG DATA. But too many of these
reports were long on prognostication, short on evidence, and totally lacking points of action.

Many were just plain boring.

So in 2013, I went to James and suggested we write our own. He suggested that we hold ourselves
to account, and that we write something we’d enjoy presenting – with our own brand of snark.

It would be ridiculously arrogant to suggest that we fixed trends reports. We didn’t. And we’re not
claiming any such thing. But think we can say we’d broadly done what we set out to do.

So I will also say this: The collaboration with James has been the most intellectually interesting thing
I’ve ever done. And I just wanted to say a public thanks to him for all of the effort that’s gone into its
creation, year after year. It’s been a pleasure.

Finally, thanks to everyone who’s read and shared these reports over the years. We appreciate your
interest and support. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed your questions and suggestions as well.

Right. That’s me. Done.

Key Digital Trends for 2018
By Marshall Manson & James Whatley

That’s all folks.

Got questions? Send them our way:


Appendix: Links & References

Links & References
Slide 5 – The Emergence & Domination of Video Slide 11 – A Video First World
Slide 12 – Twitter Retrench
Slide 7 - Everybody’s Doing Disposable Content BBC on 280 characters -- Twitter could turn a profit --
video-format-called-reels/ stock-price-spikes-after-earnings-beat-2017-10-1005703900 Twitter could turn around -- twitter-could-be-a-10-bagger-from-here/#76898ee274c8

Slide 10 - The Abdication Of Ethical Decision Making Slide 13 - Facebook’s Proprietary Metric Problem
Wired: Facebook opens to auditing
DeepMind Launches Ethics Workgroup: controversy-1486735200
intelligence-ethics-group-problems Google opens to auditing:
its-too-late audit/
Constructive discusions: Facebook screws up Carousel ad counts: measurement-error-214819 Facebook refunds money for view count errors:
intelligence_us_599596ade4b00dd984e37cad 227834#.WgDhW7u2C_U.twitter?mod=djemCMOToday
About Inspirobot: A handy tracking list of Facebook’s admitted errors with metrics:
Try Inspirobot for yourself:
Sweden working on AI to allow ambulances to take over your car radio: Slide 17 – We’ve been here before

Links & References (cont’d)
Slide 18 – …but the technology hasn’t Slide 27 – Search is Moving Towards VoiceComscore stat:
augmented-reality-lenses/ assistants/1392459 Current Google stat:
Slide 19 – And where Snap goes, other follow Gartner stat: 3x more likely to be local stat:
stickers-apps-arcore voice-search-change-seo-for-local-stores-global-enterprises Mindshare / JWT report:
iphone-8 Deloitte UK data:
Gif via Olly Gosling and-location-based-machine-learning-functions/a/
Collection of stats:
Slide 21 – Let’s Do a Roll Call Slide 28 – Voice Assistant Usage is Exploding speaker-market-this-year/
Useful overviews:
Slide 23 – Watch. Learn. Experiment. 7c2c7eeec573

Slide 24 – Get serious about thisone. Slide 29 – Users Think That’s ‘Cool’ Cool vs. Creepy Survey: annual-richrelevance-study-finds-global-consumers-willing-share-data-return-better-customer-
advertisers-225147 experience/

Slide 30 – Reliability is Improving

Error rates:
Correct response rate:

Links & References (cont’d)
Slide 32 – It’s More Than Search. It’s a New Kind of Interface. Slide 46 – Influencer Marketing is Hot, Again
Activities with Voice:
Another study on usage: Slide 55 – The ‘Digital Duopoly’
Data points on speed and error rate from here:
Slide 56 - Next, there’s the quarterly reports
Slide 33 – Occasions are Important
Slide 34 – It’s Not Just Voice. It’s Innovative Image & Video Use, Too Slide 57 – Finally…
Slide 35 – Search is About to Get Visual, Too
users/ Slide 61 – Get Savvy AF, Fast
Slide 39 – Think about ‘Voice search engine optimisation’ Slide 64 – The Web Has Issues The Cluetrain Manifesto remains a must-read for anyone in communications
See also -- Tim Berners Lee on the things that need to change in order to save the Web
Slide 45 – Tragedy of the Commons… WTF? P&Gs Marc Pritchard pushing for digital marketing improvements:
Prof. Hardin’s article from Science, quoting Prof. Lloyd from his lecture --
More on the Tragedy of the Commons --

Links & References (cont’d)
Slide 65 – Trolls Under Every Bridge Slide 68 – Outages Damage Productivity, Waste Cash
Independent (UK) on threats against Laura Kuennssberg: wake-cyberattack/
The full thread from the Canary from which the screenshot on the slide is taken: across-europe
Slide 66 – Government-Sponsored Hacking 300m-per-quarter/
North Korean hacking stories Impact on small businesses: most-affect-small-businesses/
secrets-shows-off-cyber-skills Slide 69 – We’re Even Doing Passwords Wrong
Other countries completely-wrong/
the-worlds-hacking-superpower Slide 70 - For Marketers, the Story is Ad Fraud Fraud = 20% of spend: to-online-advert-fraud-in-2017.html $7.6 billion of costs:
Slide 71 – And Government is Getting More and More Hands-On
Slide 67 – Attacks on Privacy Useful background: Government pressure on the platforms:
List of 2017 hacks: brexit-2017-11 opinion/index.html

Links & References (cont’d)
Slide 76 – Treat GDPR as an Opportunity

Slide 78 – Take Security Seriously

Gartner on CMOs as tech buyers:

Slide 81 – Social Platform as Paid Service