You can never be sure if a trend is going to become a permanent fixture or a regrettable phase. Some innovations that were viewed as potentially fleeting become entrenched in the marketing status quo (social media, anyone?), while others struggle for years to gain a foothold (hello, virtual reality). About a year ago, we dug out the patented Trilix Crystal Ball to gaze into the future for the marketing trends that would define 2018. Let’s take a look back to see where our predictions were correct, and where we missed the mark.
Content is (Still) King.
We predicted that, “In 2018, brands will need to produce high-quality content that can compete with journalistic content in allure and readability. As the publishing industry continues to adapt, branded content will find opportunities to gain equal footing with non-branded content.”
Our prediction held true, as brands continue to find new and innovative ways to leverage their own content and publishing platforms. Whether through microsites, social campaigns and user-generated content, e-books, whitepapers, long- and short-form videos or magazines, brands across the spectrum of consumer and business products and services created content aimed to entertain or inform their audiences, not just to promote. Some of our favorite recent national examples of successful content marketing include LinkedIn’s The Secret Sauce e-book, Airbnb’s airbnbmag and Gillette’s “The Best Men Can Be” video. Each tactic brings messages beyond simple brand promotion to its customers, building deeper affinity.
Do it Live.
Verdict: The third eye needs reading glasses.
We predicted that, “As more marketers adopt a video-centric approach, clients will look for cost- and time-efficient ways to deploy video. Broadcasting live streaming video on platforms like Facebook Live, Periscope, YouTube Live, Instagram Live Video and Twitch is user friendly and surprisingly more effective than a highly produced pre-recorded video.”
While video content continues to demonstrate tremendous utility for brands and there’s some credence to the notion that live video is more effective in maintaining users’ attention, 2018 didn’t see brands flock to live video en masse. If anything, livestreaming lost prominence in campaign planning as Facebook, one of the largest purveyors of live video, revealed it had misled advertisers about video metrics for more than a year. Twitch gained steam in livestreaming of video games like the smash hit Fortnite, but none of the other livestreaming platforms made waves in 2018. Video maintained its momentum as a mobile-friendly, highly engaging medium, but live video didn’t necessarily steal the spotlight from pre-recorded.
Rise of the Machines
We predicted, “In 2018 marketers are likely to utilize forms of artificial intelligence aimed at increasing the speed and ease of customer communications…As programming and algorithms advance, expect to see wider use of automated conversations with customers who expect an instant response.”
People expect to get exactly what they want exactly when they want it. With chatbots and searchable, interactive “knowledge base” answering services becoming more competent at helping human beings, numerous brands adopted conversational AI to give people the answers they want immediately, without waiting on hold. As AI becomes more capable, look for brands to deploy chatbots for more than just handling basic customer queries and capturing leads.
Well, two out of three predictions isn’t too bad! Stay tuned, as the Trilix Ouija board has revealed trends to anticipate in 2019.