Fresh Egg's Predictions for 2019 - What does the future hold?

Written by David Somerville - 13 Dec 2018

It’s that time of year once again.  As an agency we have discussed, deliberated and debated what we think are going to be the main trends in digital marketing in 2019 and, more importantly, how they will impact us and our clients.  

We’ve been writing these ‘future gazing’ posts for a few years now so, carrying on with the tradition, before I dive into what we think will be hot in 2019, lets look back at what we thought would happen in 2018 and, more importantly, if we were right (or not).

So, what were Fresh Egg's 2018 Predictions?  

THE BITCOIN BOOM! 

What we said: We predicted that cryptocurrency and blockchain transactions would really take off.

What happened? There has been a definite increase in the number of Blockchain ‘wallets’ in the past 12 months – according to Blockchain.com at the end of Q3 2018 there were 21, 506,448 wallets and this has increased to 31,137,332 by the end of November 2018.  However, its fair to say that Bitcoin, and all other cryptocurrencies in its wake, created one of the biggest bubbles in 2018.  In January the value of a single bitcoin was over $17.000 and, after 11 months of continuous drops, on Nov 12th, after a major sell-off, their value dropped from $6,000 to around $3,000. For their investors, a lot of money was made and then lost trading in cryptocurrencies this year. So the number of wallets is not the best indicator for whether or not crypto has caught on as a viable internet currency but more the gold rush type investor behaviour of everyone jumping on the bandwagon. Does that mean the end of Bitcoin? It probably won't disappear completely but after so many people lost a lot of money, it will probably never go back to anywhere near it's glory days."

Did we get it right? Well, in a word, no. Although, like so many crypto investors, we really didn't see it coming.  

VISUAL TO TAKE OVER VOICE SEARCH

What we said: We felt that despite all the buzz around voice search, it would actually be visual search that would make more of an impact.

What happened? There has been a noticeable increase within the visual search world in the past 12 months. For example, Google is reporting that images are returned for users for 19% of all search queries. Also, over on Pinterest, brands can now target over 5,000 categories through visual search advertising on Pinterest Lens

Did we get it right? Yes

AI / MACHINE LEARNING

What we said: Having witnessed what Microsoft was doing with its ‘Cognitive Services’ proposition, we predicted that 2018 would see AI and machine learning incorporated into a lot more technology, software and online services.

What happened? ‘AI’ is one of those terms you hear a lot, but there has been more evidence recently of brands implementing it, rather than just talking about. Examples include airline KLM’s use of machine learning powered chatbots and Amazon’s continued refinement of its powerful search functionality. There are also examples from Persado who are using AI to write copy for adverts and when tested, these ads are being found to outperform those written by humans in many instances.

Did we get it right? Yes, although the use of AI and machine learning is not necessarily a reality (yet) for some.

PROGRESSIVE WEB APPS

What we said: 2018 would see more and more Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) being used as a viable, and arguably better, alternative to native apps.

What happened? PWAs have been talked about a lot, with many brands making the switch in a bid to provide a faster, slicker and better experience for their users.

The site PWA Rocks shows some great examples in the wild - one, in particular, is this video showing the speed of using Debenham’s PWA versus their traditional m.dot site.

Did we get it right? Yes, although there is a lot more opportunity to be had.

VR

What we said: We recognised that VR was not new technology but suggested that more businesses would start to use it as part of their marketing efforts.

What happened? The rise of active VR users is definitely in evidence – in 2017 there were an estimated 90 million users worldwide, and estimates at that 2018 will finish at a level of 171 million.  There are more brands who are using VR as part of their strategy, for example, cheese makers Boursin and their Sensorium 360 Reality Experience.

Did we get it right?  Sort of. Yes, there have been a few more adopters, but not in the volume we perhaps felt and it’s still not a go-to channel for most brands. SPOILER ALERT: we might be talking about VR again for 2019!

Fresh Egg's Digital Marketing Predictions for 2019

Here it is - the list of what we think is worth keeping an eye on over the next 12 months, including the opinions of our experts who suggested them.  

1. More immersive video, AR and cross-format content

First up is content, primarily the increase of more advanced content formats. Immersive video and AR is by no means new, but usage has definitely grown more rapidly in the past 12 months.

Strategy director Duncan Heath says:

“360/180 degree (or "Immersive" video) is going to be really big in 2019 I think. Video is already growing at an incredible rate within content marketing, but VR videos take this to a new level, without the need for headsets, therefore I think it will become far more popular, especially given that costs for 360/180 cameras are plummeting. I think of of the best examples I have seen has been from National Geographic."

Related to this point, another of our strategy directors, Nate Wood, believes that AR content will increase in its application.

“AR is going to push ahead in 2019, leading to much more immersive brand experiences, the ability to really tell brand stories and will really help to blend the physical experience with the virtual. AR will help to join up digital and physical journeys and might actually bring substantial relevance back to the high street and the physical shopping experience.

AR could be the saviour of bricks and mortar retail and print media. What's amazing for me is that it really capitalises on the behaviour of using different media on different types of devices all at the same time.

National Geographic has been blending digital and print with AR magazine covers, interactive articles and inserts. This video demonstrates the capabilities nicely”

As well as the delivery format of content, there is also going to be an increase in the way in which content is delivered across devices.

Callum Grantham, content and social media manager, said:

“There have been interesting developments in this space and it’s set to continue to grow in the next year.

The concept is based on the ability to deliver different content to users, depending on where they are and what they are doing (‘the moment’ they are in). For example, if someone is reading content on their laptop, then leave the office and pick up on the same website, but whilst on a train on their mobile, they might go from longer-form to shorter-form text articles, or from watching a video to listening to audio.

This will work best with websites that can get people to sign-in to use their services – for example with the BBC, who have been active in this area.

They have been talking about this as far back as 2006, but we’ve seen evidence of this coming to the surface now across some of their digital services.”

2. A move towards Device-Agnostic Design

We believe this is the year when the concept of ‘mobile-first’ user experience will be superseded by the notion of ‘device-agnostic’ design. Our head of design and development, Stephen Carpetner, elaborates:

"Whether it’s your smartphone, smartwatch, TV, In-car display, laptop, tablet, or IOT device the increasing number of connected devices that users have access to will push Experience Designers towards creating more dynamic and fluid multi-device experiences.

Our Head of Design and Development Stephen Carpenter has seen an increasing need for this thinking and said:

“With more and more brands owning multiple digital touch-points across their customers journey the time for consistency of user experience and visual design approach is more important now than ever. With big brands and organisations adopting device agnostic design languages, our user’s expectation for being able to seamlessly and intuitively move from one device to another is growing all the time.”

3. Voice search triggered advertising

If you were to mention advertising within voice search at the start of the year, you might well get some quizzical looks. However, with Google's introduction of the Home Hub, the potential of voice search triggered advertising just got a whole lot easier to implement.

Content and social media director Ryan Ogilvie said:

“Users are used to seeing ads within search results and with the introduction of Google Home Hub it allows Google to combine voice with visual search and introduce ads that are incredibly targeted to the exact query users are searching for. This combined with the fact that Google Assistant runs on well over 400 million devices, expect to see some movement on paid ads across voice search in 2019.

This is now more of a reality, given the size of potential ad revenue growth for Google, among other companies such as Amazon and Microsoft who are all operating in voice search.

For me, it’s a no-brainer and a very lucrative money earner for a company such as Google, who has been traditionally built on ad revenue.”

4. Innovation in content measurement

The rise in content marketing over the past few years – much of which was a knee-jerk reaction by organisations to Google updates and appeasing the algorithms – has seen the digital landscape become flooded with content.

At Fresh Egg, we have often challenged those who jumped on the bandwagon by asking them what they were doing in order to measure the effectiveness of their content efforts.

Some brands have caught-up and measuring their content against an established framework, with KPIs and metrics linked back to their overall marketing objectives. However, content measurement is set to step up a gear according to content and social media manager Callum Grantham:

I’ve seen some really interesting content measurement focused around the usage of ‘neuromarketing’ and ‘neuro measurement’ – in other words the use of eye tracking and facial recognition.

Certain companies are pioneering on using Electroencephalography (or EEG) – the recording of the electrical activity generated by the brain via electrodes placed on the scalp – to test how people react to different content.

Another method is to use eye tracking technology to measure levels of attention and emotion.

This approach offers brands the chance to tap into their customers genuine emotion, rather than a more superficial understanding (i.e. standard engagement rates). It will give them a better understanding of who customer are and what content they need.

There are a lot more companies, such as Hey Human and Crowdemotion, working in this space, with brands such as BBC worldwide, CNN and Spotify implementing this new research approach.”

5. The increasing rise of machine learning and AI analysis

This topic is back on the table, following on from our predictions last year, but this time we’ve selected one specific area of growth - continued machine learning, leading to more automation in areas like paid management.

Adam Stafford, our managing director, feels that there are going to be some positive impacts for marketers:

“Due to machine learning, more and more automation is going to be made possible and its going to automate where possible the day-to-day jobs that have to be done manually currently.

One example of this is with a company like SessionCam, who we have worked with recently, where they have built technology that uses machine learning to help prioritise where your website optimisation and maintenance efforts should go. Doing this without that tech would take potentially hundreds of hours of time, but now you can extract that information in seconds.

Another example is within paid advertising automation. Early this year Google introduced new shopping campaigns for AdWords, which utilises automation and machine learning to maximise conversion value.

The effect of this automation will lead to the freeing up of more time for marketers to become more strategic. It will offer great efficiencies for marketing teams and departments. Also, with the Google AdWords example, it can start to generate additional revenue and save brands valuable costs that can be used elsewhere.”

6. Google defending its reputation and changing search results

A blog around digital marketing predictions wouldn’t be complete without the inclusion of search behemoth, Google. There are lots of topics to try and second-guess what they will do in the next 12 months, but on this occasion, it’s one related to the need for them to clean up fake news and disinformation from their search results pages.

Our SEO director Mark Chalcraft has been monitoring the situation and said:

“Just like Facebook, Google has taken a lot of flak for it recently. And there is continued pressure from the EU for them to get their house in order – recently several shopping comparison sites sent an open letter to the EU suggesting they need to do more to show they are not using their power to create monopolies.

Also a number of publishers have mooted the idea of charging Google to access and index their content.

With all of this in mind I feel Google will try to at least show that they are trying to tackle fake news and disinformation, but also content they display in general (including monopoly practices within Shopping results). They announced they were launching their Digital News Innovation Fund earlier this year, so I expect to see this working harder to try to ward off trouble in the ‘news’ space.”

So for marketers, it’s worth keeping an eye on developments here, as all of these changes could well lead to wider Google algorithmic updates and potential search impacts.

7. Google Marketing Platform – GMP

In 2018 we have seen some big changes from Google as they re-positioned some of their platforms to better compete with Adobe – the big player in the SME / enterprise space.  Julian Erbsloeh, our head of data and analytics, says:

"Google has launched the GMP that has brought GA, Optimize, Search Ads (ex Double Click) and Display & Video under one umbrella. But the free products also benefited from this with better integration and updated features like a huge range of new data source connectors for Data Studio (still all free) and Google Tag Manager.

Google opened the data visualisation in Data Studio up to the community, so we are expecting to soon see an explosion of custom data options which will make Data Studio an even bigger contender in the visualization tool market. At the GMP Summit in October, we got a sneak peek into some of the features that are in beta or currently under development and there is some really exciting stuff happening in this space.

With that in mind, I think that platform integrations – especially relating to data sources and pipelines – will develop with increasing momentum. Small, agile companies specialising in solving problems relating to combining and aligning data sources are flooding the market with great ideas and solutions and we hope to see the good ones float to the top in 2019, making it easier for users and agencies to find the one that fits their needs."

2019 will inevitably bring change for agencies as well as in-house teams who are setup up to embrace it and will benefit from the evolving tool landscape and emerging technologies.

So, that's it.  After much debate our predictions for 2019.  What do you think about our predictions? Let us know in comments below or via social feeds.