Top 8 2018 content predictions

Credit: Giphy

While we’re a little late with the crystal ball, we’re glad we waited, considering the bombshell Facebook algorithm news last week that changes up the content landscape (ICYMI: our analysis here).

We have only two rules for our annual content predictions: 1) they must be bold 2) they must be able to be proven wrong. Here they are:

  1. The pivot to video is dead; long live the pivot to video. Now that all publishers’ pivots to video are failing, the publisher switch to video is likely dead as major trend. But - 2018 will be a huge year for brands that invest in video, with at least 3 other F500 brands building their own Hollywood-style studio like Pepsi did. This is because creation tools for brands are improving rapidly and videos are getting easier to produce, plus consumer consumption isn’t slowing down (YouTube hit a billion hours a day early last year).
  2. The influencer marketing industry undergoes massive consolidation, resulting in all sorts of changes. The Facebook algorithm change (there it is again) will result in marketers moving more budget towards influencers, which will accrue to the top of the market as brands search for large distribution opportunities. Meanwhile, YouTube’s changes to the Preferred Partner Program will demolish the long tail of the market and make it harder for new entrants to grow. The increased focus on influencers and cultural shift around sexual harassment and bad behavior will produce more Milkshake Ducks (an explainer here), resulting in even greater concerns about brand safety — not to mention at least one major Fortune 500 brand hitting front page of the New York Times level of embarrassment due to an influencer gone wrong.
  3. Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning WON’T produce a killer-app that will have any real impact on content marketing this year. Neither will AR/VR. Or Blockchain. But 2019 will be crazy. Some people may (1) beg (2) to (3) differ (4) (even though they’re all wrong).
  4. A new entrant shakes up the social video market, but it won’t be what you think. FB will kill the FB Watch experiment, even though engagement looks like this (hint: it's good), citing lack of monetization and re-launching it as a standalone premium video app. Vine makes a comeback and creators flock back.
  5. A reckoning comes for the podcast industry. Now that Apple has opened up analytics for podcasters, expect advertisers to begin to ask for data on ad plays, skips, etc — and to not be happy with what they discover. (On a related note - where’s the App Annie for podcasts?)
  6. The branded content industry grows north of 20% year-over-year. Brands that had existing organic reach will spend more on distribution and video.You can read more about our specific predictions for Branded Video here (keep an eye out for the no-audio trend).
  7. Major US Government regulatory action towards social platforms will have unintended consequences on branded content. It’s coming, we don’t know what it will look like, but it will be bi-partisan, widely supported by consumers, and a doozy.
  8. Telecoms move big-time into advertising, taking advantage of new laws that enable them to sell consumer data. In March, congress voted to roll back privacy laws, enabling telecom companies to sell user data. As the telecoms consolidate and acquire more companies (Verizon bought AOL and Yahoo, the pending AT&T/Time Warner Merger), their data footprint will be strong enough to challenge the duopoly of Facebook and Google and they will double data-related revenue in 2018. If the telecoms don’t make a dent in the advertising market, Amazon sure will.

Consumer engagement and loyalty to brands is shifting. Fast.

New research from Brand Keys shows that “94% of categories are seeing value changes in how consumers engage.” By comparison, in last year’s report there was a 59% shift.

This means that in over 9 out of 10 categories, the role that values play in the path-to-purchase is changing. In other words: consumers are rapidly shifting their preferences towards brands who share their values.

These shifts are driven by “new political and social values.” Now, more than ever before, consumers expect brands to get serious about taking a stance. 

What this means for brands

Research shows that consumers have high BS detectors and see through low-effort cause marketing, so it is imperative that if a brand chooses to get more vocal about politics or values, they do so in an authentic way.

Expect brands to continue to push a political message in 2018, with the Super Bowl acting as a major tentpole to kick off new messages. However, don’t be surprised if by the end of 2018 consumers start to show major politics fatigue, and they turn back toward brands that avoided getting political.

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Curated and published by Adam Orshan, Alexis Krantz, and Matt Levin in New York City.

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