2018: Let’s hear it.

The IAB's Industry Initiatives Executive, Jon Markwell, reviews the digital trends which lie ahead.

Jon Markwell

There’s no question that 2017 was a difficult year for digital. From cyber attacks and mistakes made by start-ups like Uber, to undesirable ad placements that caused advertisers to cut their digital spend, the negative connotations this year do have premise. I, however, am very optimistic about the year ahead.

The truth is, the issues of last year have given a growing industry a wake-up call to do better, and that is what the industry has tried to do. Industry initiatives such as the Coalition for Better Ads, ads.txt and the IAB Gold Standard are just a few examples of how the industry has reacted positively to address its previous vulnerabilities. 2017 had its ups and downs, but with steps in the right direction, the big question is… What does 2018 have to offer?

Don’t just stare at them, talk to them!

Now, we’re not talking about advice to teenagers here. We’re talking about voice assistants. The likes of Amazon Echo (aka Alexa) and Google Home have sold tens of millions of devices worldwide and 2018 will be the year of the screen-less revolution. As the technology advances and the devices learn more about their users, they will become more and more intelligent. 

As well as this, the combined usage of assistants and mobile will spark a fire (which has long been promised) for the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT devices have been subtly creeping into our homes over the past 5 years and, thankfully, are getting ‘smarter’, in the form of Smart TVs, mobile controllable thermostats and boilers, and wearable technology. 

GDPR, will you go on a data with me?

Friday 25 May 2018. That’s the industry’s lovely date with GDPR. The General Data Protection Regulation will kick in across Europe and the UK. Although a little ambiguous in certain aspects at the moment, GDPR is designed to give consumers greater power over how their personal data is collected and used.  

A little bit scary for a lot of us, maybe? Luckily, the IAB is here to help with our newly created GDPR Hub bringing together all our resources on the new rules and listing all our GDPR events.

In an ideal outcomethe legislation will assist in serving more personalised, better-targeted advertising, resulting in an overall better user experience for the general public, which is something we should all want. 2018 will see a change in the way we use data and this will only continue to grow with the, currently slightly overhyped but still very incredible, developments in AI and machine learning.

I ate so much over Christmas, I’ve filled the Blockchain

Ignore Bitcoin for a second. What’s important is blockchain. A technology that has touched into the mainstream in 2017 and will be no different in 2018. As we grasp a better understanding of digital ledgers, smart contracts and decentralised systems, various industries beyond finance, such as ours, will start to realise the benefits and potential that this technology holds. It might not be the time for blockchain to completely take over, but 2018 will see blockchain’s rocket ‘to the moon’ start its engines.

Let’s Get Creative

I’ve never been sold on Virtual Reality’s capacity to truly disrupt and I am still to be proven wrong. Augmented Reality (AR), however, shows a lot of promise, particularly in the social space. AR is changing the way that we can communicate with each other and, as its features continue to improve, advertisers will have a real opportunity to create content like never before. 

Of course, there’s more to creativity than AR and VR. Creativity in the audio space is my dark horse for 2018. There is no better way to engage on a personal level, while remaining mobile, than audio. The combination of location, personal data, and what you are listening to take personalisation to a new level; and let’s not forget how voice assistants could be used here!

2018: Gone in one year and out the other

There’s always too much to talk about with regards to digital trends; it’s a continuously growing and innovative space. But the truth is, although 2017 wasn’t the best year for digital, no year is. We’re always learning and 2018 will be the year the industry works together to do better.  

So, back to the big question: what does 2018 have to offer? 

Simply put, a lot. And I’m excited. 

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