As 2018 is fast moving towards its end and Christmas is just around the corner, it’s time to evaluate the developments on the digital landscape this year. After all, you need to be aware of the major trends that dominated during 2018 to foresee all that you can anticipate in the coming year.
The idea is to gear up your business for embracing the emerging trends so that you stay ahead in the competitive digital scene. Let us look back at the digital trends that blew up in 2018 and the implications they are likely to have in the coming year.
GDPR and data security
Perhaps, the biggest event for digital marketers and businesses in 2018 was the implementation of GDPR in May 2018. General Data Protection Regulation is a move that has disrupted the future of data privacy in the EU and probably, all over the world. While GDPR has empowered the EU residents with more control over their personal information, it has also increased the complexities for businesses that need to follow stringent data security guidelines to ensure unauthorised propagation of user data.
It has even led to confusion related to email campaigns and data used by the digital marketing fraternity. With the implementation of GDPR, the primary impact came in the form of an increased number of pop-ups and cookie notifications on websites to get user consent for using their data.
As data privacy laws gained momentum, several companies had to face process upheaval in 2018 and some were even fined for the breach of GDPR. British Airways, Facebook, and Leave.EU and an Arron Banks owned insurance company are just a few of big corporate names on the list of organisations that have borne the brunt of GDPR.
Blockchain - Fintech impact
Another tech trend that came to the forefront in 2018 is the increasing adoption of the Blockchain technology by organisations. Being a distributed, tamperproof ledger, blockchain brings a range of benefits for businesses. It is decentralised and cuts out intermediaries, thereby reducing costs, increasing speed and extending reach. Additionally, it offers transparency and traceability for the diverse business processes. As a result, a large number of businesses made blockchain a part of their core and many more are expected to join the bandwagon in the coming year.
In fact, blockchain is poised to be the biggest opportunity for businesses in the future. Anthony Duignan-Cabrera, Director, Digital & Communications, Bamboo Technologies said in our 2018 trends predictions at the start of the year that Blockchain would be moving beyond Cryptocurrencies and Fintech. We've started to see this, this year with more and more institutions beginning to integrate the technology.
Gartner forecasts that the technology is expected to generate an annual business value exceeding US $3 trillion by 2030.
This development will be accompanied by 10% to 20% of the global economic infrastructure running on blockchain-based systems.
Programmatic everywhere became a reality in 2018, as a whopping three-quarter of brands invested in programmatic advertising during the year. Spearheaded by Amazon, the brand list that bought programmatically in 2018 include leading names like Microsoft, Wayfair, Weight Watchers, Sprint, Dell and Geico.
Surprisingly, programmatic continues to grow and flourish despite the concerns related to transparency and brand safety. The reason is probably that brands understand the significance of communicating with the targeted audience through automated marketing campaigns across all channels.
In the coming years too, programmatic will continue to evolve as marketers will strive to know more about the efficiency of their campaigns and the audience that has viewed them. The focus will be on methods to maximize the impact of the campaigns by finding the right audience for programmatic and scaling the campaigns further.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have witnessed an extraordinary boom in 2018 as businesses are now serious and open to exploring these innovative technologies. Based on predictive behaviour & machine learning with the help of algorithms & large data sets, the technology is poised to drive automated tasks without human intervention.
The versatility of AI is another development that has been recognized in this year, with several established companies and aspiring startups planning to use it in various ways. UK’s IntelligentX plans to innovate the world’s first AI brewed beer; Sweden’s Hoofstep is raising VC funding to introduce a behavioural analyses technique based on deep learning for horses and Russia’s DeepFish is leveraging neural networks to identify fish.
Autonomous cars, drones and virtual assistants are just a few more examples of the technology that is going to transform the digital landscape in the future.
Brand safety has been the biggest concern for digital marketers in 2018 as the industry is ridden by fraudulent activity. After all, no brand would want to spend hundreds of dollars just to have their ad placed on a sub-standard site, besides fake news or inappropriate content.
Better control and improved safety measures have been the marketing buzzwords for brands that want to protect their reputation online. Bots, fake URLs, and false inventory are the major culprits that compromise brand safety.
Marketers came with blacklisting as a tangible solution to avoid placements on unsuitable sites. On the other hand, whitelisting a list of acceptable sites where the inventory can be run or choosing the specific
Another major trend that has disrupted the digital domain is that of mass personalisation. Delivering personalised products and experiences to consumers is the secret to selling and this has been proved strongly in 2018 as buyers’ prioritised businesses that looked after their needs. Businesses can use this opportunity to demonstrate that they value their consumers, while consumers can get a better value for money.
As this trend becomes the norm for businesses in the coming year, organisations will need to rethink their business operations and create a differentiated proposition, which can help them command a premium price for their products and services and still achieve higher sales & conversions.
So, these are the trends that ruled in 2018 and will probably become even bigger in the coming year. Is your business ready for 2019?
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