Here is my contribution to your 2018 planning with 10 predictions Marketers need to take into account for next year.

I’d like to start my predictions with the hard stuff you can trust and are happening for sure: The GDPR in May, the Football World Cup in June-July, plenty of AI vendors harassing you by email, phone, events. Very likely to happen and hoping it doesn’t, people trying to hack in your system while others try to steal your precious talents.

The art and science of predicting is a tricky one. To prove that what you are reading is worth your time, and your trust, I guarantee that at least 30% of my predictions are 99% sure to happen.

1. You have to comply with GDPR
GDP is happening, and the date is set for the 25 May 2018. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is setting new rules for how any company doing business in the EU process and store data from consumers. In case of non-compliance, the fine can go up to 4% of a company’s total turnover. It is a serious matter, and you should have a chat with your legal team about customer data, what you store, what you use, and how you inform them.

2. You will hear a lot about football
More glamorous, the Football World Cup is happening in 2018 from June 14th – July 15th. If your nation is qualified, or if you regularly work with people from qualified nations, put the game times in your agenda. You don’t want to spend weeks to setup a meeting with people that will be grumpy because it is happening while their team is playing.

You may also want to run some fun marketing campaigns around football. Well, you better have a good reason to do so, because you won’t be alone on the topic. And for SEO, the earlier you start the more likely you are to be taken seriously on the topic.

3. There is a lot to do with AI
You are already getting a ton of solicitation from tech vendors parading about their AI solutions. And you will get even more next year. If not, you are not going out enough or innovators don’t have you on their radar. Marketing is an ever-changing world you can’t stay and hide in your office all day.

What should you do with the AI? The same that with any tech solution: don’t get excited or turned down (depending on how geeky you are) by the buzzword, just focus on what the solution is achieving and what it requires from you (money, time, access to your data, your system…), how you will measure the result, and what case studies they have (you don’t want to be the first to try).

4. There is an alternative to Google and Facebook
Let’s face it, if you are an average marketer, two thirds of your budget is going to those two. It also means that two thirds of your leads are coming from those two, and your business depends on them.

An alternative may come from Oath (the combination of Yahoo and Aol), Amazon or local players coming together to bring what the duopoly is promising –  a safe environment, great targeting and hopefully a solid measurable ROI.

Whatever happens this is the only thing that should matter to you: how well do these solutions work for your brand and how can they help you grow your business. When you meet media sales houses ask them exactly that. Keep in mind that if you are not one of the largest spenders in the world, they won’t be adapting their tech stack to your requirements. So make sure to also ask them what you should provide them with to make your campaigns more effective. This conversation will be a good start to get an alternative to Google and Facebook.

5. Voice search is becoming big
Google claims that 20% of online searches are already made by voice. You have to get used to target searchers instead of search pages and understand that Google, Apple and Microsoft want to give answers, not links. Make sure that your website gives answers to what customers or searchers are looking for. Put yourself in their shoes to create the content that fits their needs. Once you fulfil their needs you can work on yours (sell, sell, sell) and work on how the user journey on your web pages or app will lead from an answer to an order form.

6. Inspiration moving from Silicon Valley to China
2017 has not been a great year for the brand of Silicon Valley – the GAFA are scary, Unicorn are not making people dream anymore, even the management model of Silicon Valley has been questioned.

Meanwhile in China, Alibaba and Tencent are both building tech giants, each generating more profits than Amazon and Paypal combined. After manufacturing most of the hardware, could the services also be coming from China as well? You’d better look at how their models are working and spend some time discovering the WeChat ecosystem.

7. Your company will be hacked
I hope I am wrong on that one, but it is likely that your company is going to be attacked in 2018. It happened to tech giants like Yahoo, Uber, Sony, LinkedIn… what makes you think that you are safe? And don’t tell me it is the CTO’s problem. Marketing has been fighting long enough to take control of digital to let it go when it gets dirty. And the safety of your consumer experience and data is definitely a marketing concern.

8. Your best talent will be poached
I don’t want to ruin the party, but yes, another piece of bad news. Marketing is always changing and companies need new strategies and new competencies to develop them, so your best talent will be poached. If not, you have an even bigger problem – your rock stars have no value outside of your company, and could it be that your whole team is becoming obsolete?

Get your team out more, make them meet new people and bring new ideas. Know what motivates them, and bring the challenges that will keep them too excited to update their resume.

9. The Bitcoins crash, the blockchain booms
As a currency, bitcoin is not doing a great job: you can barely buy anything with it, liquidity is expensive and they fluctuate too much. And bitcoins are sucking electricity: each bitcoin transaction requires the same amount of energy used to power nine homes in the US for one day.

But I would like to differentiate between bitcoins and blockchain. Blockchain is the protocol on which bitcoins are based, making them unique and supposedly safe, but blockchain can be used for more than bitcoins. It can be used for any online transaction where parties want security and traceability. It is already used to trade diamonds, and it could be used for any transactions.

10. VR/AR will entertain you
Let’s finish with a fun one. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality have been around for a while, and over the last years, a lot of people have bet that they will be big in the coming months. I still have my doubts.

There are some great applications and you should definitely try some: games in VR are fun, watching a (short)film in VR is fun. But the fun is not worth the headache and the cost. And don’t Pokémon Go me. Yes, the game was an instant hit and has made a billion dollars in revenue, but have you seen kids play the game recently? To save their battery they don’t play in AR mode.

So, what should you do? Have fun and enjoy, get a demo every now and then to keep up with the latest development, and read Ready Player One or go and watch the Spielberg movie when it hits theatres at the end of March.


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