Creating predictions for the new year is, in some ways, a bit of a mug's game. That's because twelve months on and anyone can see instantly whether you were right or wrong.
Still, here at Clarity we have never been afraid of sticking our necks out a little. We asked the team then to come up with predictions for 2019 and here’s what they came up with from brand activism through to the growth of owned content.
Helen Frear (London, Account Manager)
Social responsibility and brands
Social media has reached unparalleled levels of influence in the past year. Consumers want brands to be activists, to tackle wider issues and take on social responsibility - think of Nike's advert with Colin Kaepernick and Iceland's banned Christmas ad. Leaders of big tech are also being questioned about their power, and new regulations are being put into place to manage this.
In 2019, I expect we’ll see further examples of brands advocating social causes, and a rise in “anti-social media” - a backlash against the over curated, unrealistic portrayal of brands conveyed by influencers online. Social media platforms need to be prepared to offer improved privacy settings and up their customer service offering in anticipation of user backlash following a series of hacks and fake news scandals. People want authenticity in a time of uncertainty.
Alice Cornelius (London, Account Manager)
Health tech explosion
I expect we will see an explosion of health tech because Health Minister Matt Hancock is really pushing to digitise the NHS. This is a good thing but needs to be done in the right way, a bunch of trendy apps aren't going to solve the NHS's inter-connectivity issues which are the crux of many of the reasons why it is still so inefficient. The NHS needs to work to address the digital transformation of its basic IT infrastructure (including updating all systems so it doesn't get hit by cyberattacks like WannaCry) before it brings on all new bells and whistles.
Robert Andrews (London, Director of Content)
Neo-luddism is the lens for every launch / Reboot tech as a force for good
It's not just Facebook. In 2018, misdeeds and faux pas by technology companies large and small met growing consumer concern about the technologies on which we have made ourselves reliant.
Suddenly, for many, all the optimism and excitement has drained away from technology, replaced by fear, anxiety and a rush to disconnect.
Such a pendulum swing is, if you'll excuse the tech pun, altogether too binary.
But, in 2019, technology companies will need to frame their every step in what is a new climate of suspicion. From B2B to B2C and in-between, suppliers will need to reconnect their culture and, with it, their public perception to a sense that technology is a force not for exploitation but for good. The world sorely needs it.
Sherry Smith (New York, VP media, mobile and marketing)
The Importance of Owned Content Continues to Grow
With PR professionals outnumbering journalists by 6 to 1, there is absolutely no way we can rely as heavily on earned media as we used to. Or as much as our clients want us to. In 2019 and beyond, creating and publishing content by and for the client will be increasingly imperative. I expect to see more companies producing their own podcasts, publishing articles that are informative rather than promotional and even creating short-form video content.
The good thing is that we now have more outlets and formats we can leverage with owned content – audio, video, short form, long form, Linkedin, Medium – this is where the opportunity is. So if you’re not publishing content yet, 2019 is the time to start. And if you’re already publishing, then 2019 is the time to double down.
Gosia Gnyp (London, Account Director)
Social Media loses its training wheels and we will see more online sales completed through social channels. Facebook will be the channel to revolutionise the game and become a retailer. Leveraging all the data it has available on users, which is much greater than that of Google or Amazon, it will carve our the way for emotional commerce and redesign the shopping journey for technology-enabled consumers.
Consumers will be at the centre of all decisions as retailers provide a more engaging and experiential shopping experience in-store. By incorporating more 'behind-the-scenes' tech, retailers will simplify the mundane and dreaded tasks of the general shopper, i.e the check-outs, and catapult consumers out of their autopilot mode, making shopping a fun and outrageous experience not just a transaction.
Ashley Norris (London, Associate Director)
Automation and social issues
I think this year has been one in which brands have been forced to react to external events from changing policies to accommodate GDPR through to re-assessing their social approach in response to Facebook’s news feed algorithm change.
This year, however, I think there will be fewer seismic changes, enabling brands to be more proactive. More will embrace social issues, hopefully in a subtle and supportive way.
I think we will begin to see more automation too as companies move from wondering what to do about Artificial Intelligence through to actually finding really useful applications for automation.
Oisin Prendergast (London, Account Executive)
Is there a type of tech that will be big in 2019?
The tail-end of 2018 witnessed something of a space renaissance. As trailblazers such as SpaceX and Virgin Galactic launched their missions into outer-space, a host of new and exciting startups celebrated lift-off of commercial satellites into orbit. Many of the networks launched via satellites have set out on the bold mission to increase internet connectivity and data-capture in some of the most remote corners of the earth.
In 2019, we’ll see the contours of these networks begin to mature, and see more commercial applications emerge across logistics, agriculture and the environment. The race will be on for these sectors to embrace space-operated internet networks, and usher in a new era of data-driven modelling within their respective industries.
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