These Marketing Trends will Overshadow Others in 2018 Brands should start shifting their focus, from developing content to creating experiences that will enable consumers to create and share more user-generated content

By Tom Edwards

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We are in the thick of customer-centric marketing. As we enter 2018, there will continue to be a greater shift of marketing dollars to upstart digital platforms and products, as brands need to pay heed to the trends that have been taking over consumers' attention. In 2018, experiences, not marketing, will increasingly become the driver of selling strategies as personalized engagement becomes possible at a deeper and more productive level.

I see five major marketing trends emerging over the next twelve months, outlined below.

The Camera will Become a Platform

The past year has seen major IT and technology players like Apple and Facebook join the likes of Snapchat with their own efforts to transform the camera into a platform. With new tools and enhanced consumer experiences, we are seeing a paradigm shift in the way the camera is being used. The underlying common theme of all these trends is how new hardware and software are enabled. A mobile camera can bridge the physical and digital world, and can create a new window to the world. High-resolution screens, unbelievable processing power and high-resolution cameras have enabled third-party developers to build camera effects through the Augmented Reality (AR) Kit and AR Core.

Brands should start shifting their focus, from developing content to creating experiences that will enable consumers to create and share more user-generated content. The best and a proven way is of building for the camera which will increasingly guarantee better consumer experiences.

Messaging Apps have Evolved

Messaging apps, like Facebook Messenger, began as a means to connect and converse with friends and family. But, in recent years, the interaction model of these apps have taken on a bigger role in the lives of consumers. Businesses are now able to integrate with the user experiences by creating an entirely new consumer portal for consumers to interact with brands and even transact. This trend will continue as the likes of iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Slack and WeChat attempt to consolidate services. Facebook now allows third-party services into the groups and include conversations which help in choosing the location, ordering food and paying within the conversation.

System-based Marketing Will Be a New Movement

The rise of the proxy web will be one of the central developments in 2018. Consumers will have systems which will serve as proxy for interactions with other systems. Researchers have shown that baby boomers and GenX are open to systems that can assist in unravelling the complexities of emerging technologies and manage some aspects of their lives. Marketers have to consider a system-based journey to connect and create experiences to ultimately help the consumer discover what they need. The interaction will shift from person-to-person to bot-to-bot, and this will be a purely consumer-centric marketing. Systems will be used as proxies for consumers. The new approach to map journeys will be important to understanding system-based marketing. The marketers need to consider both the consumer decision journeys and system-based journeys as consumers will be more dependent on proxies to manage several aspects of their lives.

Integration of AI Assistants in Everyday Life

The introduction of voice match by Google will be a major ingredient in a digital assistant. Technology allows the AI assistant to recognize individual voices which lead to multi-user support functionality. Based on the commands, the assistant will be able to personalize answers depending on who is asking the question. These devices could include a personalized phone dialer which allows one to make calls from their number by utilizing their contact lists. The ability to have multiple users tapping into a single personalized digital assistant will make the process easier. If a family member asks: "How long will it take to reach work?" the assistant will be able to analyze the traffic routes and provide the best route and the accurate information. The information that is gleaned from various Google accounts, allows the assistant to move from one device to another.

Similar is Amazon's Alexa, which works on the same principles. A marketer should be able to question himself on how he would be able to integrate himself into that schedule. Services and experiences can be provided by accessing these assistants and it has become increasingly important to integrate with assistants. The skills are relevant actions which will become more and more important as the assistant integrates itself into the daily lives of people.

As the world has been going hyper-local, digital media has been helping local businesses to g better understand and form stronger connections with consumers. Marketers have to continuously evolve their strategies to keep up with the fast-paced developments.

Tom Edwards

Chief Digital Officer, Agency at Epsilon

Tom Edwards is the Chief Digital Officer, Agency at Epsilon. He is a data driven, digitally centric marketing executive and professional futurist. He specializes in the integration of emerging technology, digital transformation, thought leadership, innovation and leading strategic teams. Tom has developed a significant base of experience across multiple industries which have led to strategic interactive and innovation led consulting engagements with hundreds of Fortune 1000 organizations. His vertical experiences include Automotive, Entertainment, Technology, CPG, Government, Retail, Healthcare, Pharma, Food & Beverage, Energy, Telecommunications, Financial Services, Insurance, Travel and Chemical.

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