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18 FOR 2018

2018 Trends
UPDATED TREND
FRAMEWORK
2018 will usher in an evolution of experience. We will see technology that empowers
consumers, intelligent systems that will enhance our lives and the definition of reality
and the blending of physical and digital will begin to converge and redefine our world.

Our new trend framework focuses on the core behaviours driving technology adoption
and engagement. As a data-driven growth engine for clients, our goal is to look at
every new technology and trend through a behavioural lens to understand why
consumers gravitate to specific technologies and how those technologies establish
and amplify new behaviours.

Our new trend framework focuses on the following three core areas.

Empower: Trends that allow consumers to own, create, and democratise


experiences.

Enhance: Trends that enhance daily life activities and responsibilities through
intelligent systems and proxies.

Environment: Trends that lead to the frictionless connection between physical and
digital experiences, reshaping our environment.

These three behavioural drivers align to provide a consumers overall EXPERIENCE

Tom Edwards

Chief Digital Officer, Agency


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CONTEXTUALISING THE FRAMEWORK

EXPERIENCE

CONTEXT
Data – Cognitive Systems – APIs

EMPOWER ENHANCE ENVIRONMENT

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RESEARCH

In 2017, we conducted a study of 420 respondents to understand the impact, acceptance, interest, etc. in
artificial intelligence amongst Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X and Boomers.

Throughout this deck, you will find that some slides utilise this research by visually showing either how
excited, apprehensive, or knowledgeable a given cohort is about a technology.

Indicates Positive
Sentiment
GenZ Mill GenX Boom
Indicates Neutral
Sentiment

GEN Z MILLENIALS GEN X BABY BOOMERS


Indicates Negative
Sentiment (Ages 13-17) (Ages 18-34) (Ages 35 - 54) (Ages 55+)
105 respondents 105 respondents 105 respondents 105 respondents

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EMPOWER

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CAMERA AS A PLATFORM

Over the course of the last year, companies such as Apple and Facebook joined the likes of
Snapchat and Instagram in discussing their vision of building the camera into a platform. A camera is
a user’s window to the world, bridging the physical with the digital. As companies open up the
platform and create tools to enable consumer experiences, we will see a fundamental shift in how the
camera is used.

An underlying theme throughout 2018’s trends is how new hardware and software are enabling new
uses. Larger screens, massive processing power, and crystal-clear cameras have become table
stakes on the new generation of smartphones. This has enabled third party companies to create
compelling camera effects through software innovations like AR Kit and AR Core. This empowers
consumers to create and share content.

As we move forward, it will be increasingly important to enable camera experiences using contextual
and unfiltered data sets in combination with AR effects. This will allow users to create experiences in
real time that are personalised and contextually relevant.

Implications

Brands need to start shifting their focus from creating content to creating experiences that enable
consumers to create and share content. One of the best ways to do this is by building for the camera,
which will increasingly be integrated into more and more consumer experiences.

Empowering your consumers to create and share while interacting with your brand is going to be
crucially important moving into 2018 and beyond. As a marketer, the best way to start is to determine
what new capabilities will integrate well into your brand’s message and what tools will be able to
Ikea’s new Place app takes advantage of Apples ARKit to
enhance them. AR frames, filters, interactive apps, and physical triggers are all options.
allow users to place virtual furniture around their home.
Users are able to then save and reserve products, eventually
being able to purchase directly from the app.
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VR GETS SOCIAL

VR has yet to really cross into the mainstream due to price, accessibility, and the isolating nature of the
experience. While there have been incremental gains in all of those categories in the past few years,
2018 is going to be a year in which marketers make big strides to ensure VR feels much less lonely.

Facebook addressed this issue by launching Spaces last year. Spaces is a personalised virtual world
which allows you to meet, interact and share with other virtual avatars. Soon, you’ll be able to watch
concerts, sports, movies and TV with other avatars in a space called Venues.

While the virtual world is certainly cool, it is real world interaction that will drive mass adoption. Virtual
avatars can initiate video calls to users on their desktops, upon which their image will pop up, and
physical users will get a view of their virtual world – this will be one of the first widespread uses of VR
that genuinely simulates real-world experiences, and its effect will be profound. Additionally, VR avatars
can take selfies and share content back on the Facebook news feed.

Implications

As VR continues to break down its own barriers to adoption, it will be key for brands to integrate
themselves into the platform in ways that feel natural for the user. This will become more important as it
gets easier to bridge the inherent isolation gap that comes with a traditional VR experience.

An easy foray into this space is by creating branded 360 videos, which users can experience in VR as
well as on traditional platforms. Moving forward, brands should look to enable consumers to discover
and engage with their products and services in a virtual environment, while allowing them to share their
experiences with others.

Facebook Spaces allows virtual avatars to video conference


with users on the traditional Facebook platform, bridging the
isolation gap associated with VR.

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EVOLUTION OF
SOCIAL MESSAGING
In days of yore, software developers would create a great product, gather a user base, and expand to
include messaging capabilities. Today, that model has been flipped on its head. Messaging services
have expanded to include all forms of software.

Social messaging apps began as a way to connect and converse with friends and family, but in recent
years, we’ve seen the interaction model with these apps change to take a more prominent and central
role in our lives. Businesses and third parties are now able to integrate themselves into the user
experience, creating an entirely new consumer portal – and as we move deeper into 2018, expect this
trend to continue.

The likes of WhatsApp, iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Slack, WeChat and more will attempt to
consolidate services through APIs and downloadable “mini-apps” – by integrating all of these services
into one place, these apps are empowering consumers to discover, engage and convert with their local
businesses as well as national and international brands.

Implications

Using machine-learning algorithms, these conversations are inherently personalised and contextually
relevant to the user. Integrated services will be able to tap into the mass of data these companies
collect and use it to offer the ideal product.

For consumers, these messaging apps are natural, and they feel safe. Brands that can successfully
integrate themselves and offer a use will be able to reach their consumers in a “home” place that is
Facebook Messenger allows groups to bring third party further down the purchase funnel.
services into their conversations, making it easy to choose a
location, order food, and pay, right in the conversation. The
M virtual assistant will contextually understand a
conversation, and recommend personalised options. GenZ Mill GenX Boom
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PHYSICAL EXPERIENCES
THAT ENHANCE DIGITAL

At the base of these trends is the idea that brands should focus less on creating and pushing content,
and more on enabling consumers to create and share their own. This doesn’t just hold true in the digital
world. We’ve seen examples of experiences that are created in the physical world with the goal of
enabling user created content in the digital world. We expect this trend to pick up entering 2018.

Most notable is the popularity of Instagram-themed museums. These art exhibits are interactive and
offer picturesque backdrops not found in the real world. People flock to these museums, with names
like the Colour Factory, the Museum of Ice Cream, Rain Room, and 29Rooms, to capture the perfect
Insta shot.

This trend can also be seen in physical retail stores, who will increasingly set themselves up to
enhance a consumer’s digital presence. This will be done through interactive displays, augmented
reality triggers, shareable content and more. Our physical experiences will increasingly be intertwined
with our digital lives.

Implications

By now, brand marketers should understand the value that social media can bring them. Enhancing the
ability for consumers to interact and share with your brand is of the utmost importance. Sponsoring or
creating one of these exhibits will lead to an increased brand presence on social media.

The Rain Room, pictured above, uses a field of sensors to At the 29Rooms museum in New York, seven of the 29 rooms are sponsored by brands. This includes
a runway by Aldo, where visitors can practice their model strut underneath an arch decorated with
ensure that participants can walk through the exhibit without
shoes. This effectively integrates the brand into a physical experience that can be easily shared.
getting wet. The lighting is perfectly set up to create the
ultimate insta opportunity.

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IMMERSIVE ESPORTS

The video games industry has always been at the vanguard of digital industry shifts and has paved the
way for immersive entertainment. This has led to a monumental rise in the popularity of eSports.
eSports brings together consumers who want to connect, share, and compete in new ways that
traditional sports can’t provide while offering easy ways to watch and follow your favourite teams and
players.

And the numbers don’t lie. By 2019, viewership of eSports, among those who watch one or more times
a month, is expected to grow from 90 million to 180 million viewers in the US with revenue expected to
surpass the billion-euro mark. In comparison, on the other side of the Atlantic, around 20 million
viewers tuned in for the 2016 NBA Finals – while on this side of the pond, just under 8 million tuned in
for the 2017 FA Cup Final.

The next evolution of eSports will be immersive. VR eSports leagues exist and will only get more
popular as the hardware paves the way for new entrants. At that stage, haptic feedback suits and
positional sensors will set the stage for an entirely new era of immersive gaming and competition.

Implications
The first national VR eSports championships took place last
May. Participants and critics alike believe that the more To tap into this massively engaged audience segment, brand marketers need to get the audience on
physical nature of VR eSports could be the key to its success. multiple channels. They should look beyond simply sponsoring events, teams, and players to develop
the right data-driven ecosystem that taps into the strengths of eSports being an omni-channel platform.

Additionally, brands can get ahead of this trend by partnering with or developing immersive eSports
experiences, from AR mobile apps to expansive VR platforms. As more and more of gen Z and
millennials adopt these games, we’re likely to see a big first-mover advantage for those that can
successfully integrate into the ecosystem.

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EXPANSION OF
CONTEXTUAL COMMERCE

Contextual commerce is an idea that’s key to consumer empowerment and goes hand in hand with
non-linear media. Instead of publishers selecting content that is then consumed passively, the
consumer can interact and choose their path. We’ve seen this through on-demand services, video
games, websites and social media.

As we move through 2018, non-linear media is going to continue to work itself into every facet of
consumer entertainment and engagement while offering contextual commerce capabilities. Any
platform that serves media will inherently offer some personalised option or third-party integration to
Amazon Spark, the brand’s social network, uses computer allow for relevant purchasing decisions.
vision to analyze images and determines products that you The friction between discovery and purchase will decrease as consumers are empowered to make
can then buy through the platform. purchasing decisions based on relevant products or services they see in their daily media intake.

Implications

UX and brand marketing professionals need to take this trend into account when thinking about the
overall engagement model of their product or service. By crafting an experience that is personalised
and allows for the user to feel in control, you are enabling them to actively consume and make
purchasing decisions on their own.

Brands that understand this will have an easier time staying connected to their customers, while also
allowing for data collection and profiling. It is far easier to listen to what a customer wants than telling
them what that is.

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ENHANCE

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DEMOCRATISATION OF AI

At Google I/O earlier this year, the company announced a cloud computing service that would provide
access to a very powerful AI chip, designed in-house. This new processor, called TPU 2.0, will provide
the ability for any developer or company to create products that can run, as well as train, advanced
neural networks.

This type of computing power used to be very expensive, but what Google did is essentially the
democratisation of AI. This will result in a major disruption in almost every industry as micro AI services
and APIs create and enhance products that will be able to parse through mass amounts of data and
offer personalised solutions.

Every industry from insurance to holiday planning can benefit from this technology and it will be
interesting to see the solutions that these companies bring to the world. In the early part of this decade,
the brightest minds in Silicon Valley were creating apps. Today, they’re creating algorithms.

Implications

Brands need to determine how best to take advantage of AI’s capabilities. This can either be through
the parsing of massive amounts of structured and unstructured data to uncover insights that were
previously unknown or by enhancing the engagement layer of their product or service.

Advanced AI capabilities at the fingertips of every developer and company will result in many
innovations across every industry. It’s important for your brand to utilise these services, enhancing the
experience for your customers – if you don't, someone else will.

Google’s new Cloud TPU will make it possible for third parties
to run and train neural nets, drastically reducing the barrier to
entry for artificially intelligent product and services.

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DEVICE BASED MACHINE
LEARNING

Machine Learning (ML) processes were traditionally executed on high-performance machines and
servers. In many cases, that will continue to occur. However, there is a strong trend in the shift to on-
device ML for mobile devices and various other products.

Take, for example, Apple’s A11 Bionic Chip, implemented in the new iPhone X. It enables a neural net
to run and train on the device itself, allowing the facial recognition technology to work almost instantly
while keeping all of the data on the phone.

Google’s new Home Max is another example of this. The speaker is outfitted with ML technology
designed to automatically adjust itself to create the optimum sound for the room that it’s in. Because
this occurs on the device, these adjustments can take place in real time, leading to an improved UX.

Implications

For marketers, this is an important trend to keep tabs on. Device based ML is an integral step towards
ubiquitous and contextual computing. Our devices will be able to access the knowledge stored in the
cloud while having a contextual understanding of what’s going on.

Marketers will be able to tap into that technology to create highly personalised experiences that adapt
to consumers’ needs in real time. These experiences will be critical for brands to work themselves into
our daily schedules.

Apple’s A11 Bionic chip allows neural nets to run and train on the
device itself, drastically increasing processing speeds and opening the
door for widespread on-device machine learning.

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BLOCKCHAIN IS PUT TO USE

2017 was the year that the word blockchain, if not the understanding of it, made its way into the
mainstream. Accordingly cryptocurrencies, the fuel that powers the transactions made on this
technology, have shot up in value since the beginning of the year. Bitcoin, which started the year valued
at below a thousand euro is currently trading just under the €10k mark (at the time of publication). New
Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) are bringing in tens of millions of euro to various cryptocurrency startups
daily.

The underlying idea of this movement is the ability to transfer almost anything of value,without using a
middleman. Doing so results in a more transparent, secure, and profitable interaction. Banking,
healthcare, retail, communication, advertising, and many more industries are all ripe for disruption.

2018 will be the year in which more regulation and stricter standards are put around these
technologies, meaning stakeholders will be able to operate with increased confidence.

Implications

For marketers, blockchain technology will be increasingly important in the ad-serving space. Every time
data changes hands during this process there is a loss of value. The blockchain will ensure that there is
a decentralised and secure record of these transactions, and you will know with the utmost of
transparency where your ad was placed and who saw it.

While it is still in very early days for this technology, blockchain will soon boast significant advantages
for marketers when it comes to security and transparency. For those reasons, brands that are early
adopters could benefit from improved business processes and consumer trust.
The Basic Attention Token (BAT) improves the efficiency of
digital advertising by using a token to exchange value
between publishers, advertisers, and users. It all happens on
the Ethereum blockchain.

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VISUAL DISCOVERY

Moving forward, computer vision technologies will play a much greater role in how we access and
consume information. This is an underlying aspect of the camera as a platform, which will be a catalyst
to consumer empowerment. When you think about mapping virtual assistants to computer vision, it
becomes a technology that will greatly enhance our information processing ability.

Google’s release of Lens is going to play a large role in driving this trend. It will instantly give millions of
people the power to pull out their phones and receive contextual information based on anything they’re
pointing it at. View a restaurant and up pops their Yelp reviews, pricing, and reservation options. Don’t
know what food you’re about to eat? Just point your camera at it.

While browsing physical retail stores, this technology is going to reduce the friction involved in
comparison shopping. No longer will you have to manually input search keywords and navigate through
slow loading pages. Simply pull out your camera, point it at your product, and the advanced AI
algorithms will do the rest.
The Vivino app allows users to take a photo of any wine
label to access pricing, ratings, reviews, food pairing
suggestions and more.
Implications

For marketers, the widespread use of this technology is going to further necessitate the need to control
your brand’s online presence. Your copy and related keywords will have to match to your physical
product or service, and it needs to be integrated into the various assistants that are mapped to the input
data.

This is a major building block towards a day when proxies, such as Google’s Assistant, do most of our
bidding for us. It’s important to understand that it will no longer be about only marketing to people, but
to proxies as well.

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VOICE + VISUAL

Voice search is another trend that has seen increases in popularity in recent years, but will go fully
mainstream in 2018. It’s already estimated that 35 million people will interact with a voice-based
assistant at least once a month. However, voice alone doesn’t cut it. Users are increasingly finding that
for these interactions to reach their full potential, a visual component is needed.

Amazon released its version of this earlier last year in the form of the Echo Show, and more recently a
smaller version called the Spot. It’s rumoured that Facebook and Google will be releasing their version
of a voice and visual device at some point in 2018.

While each of these companies will understandably market these devices with various use cases in
mind, the general concept of a visual complement to a voice-activated assistant will stay the same:
shopping, communicating, and consuming content will all be made easier.

Implications

As these devices make their way into consumers’ living rooms and begin to play a central role in how
we access information, brand marketers will have to think about the best way to integrate themselves.

It’s important to understand that experiences should be built with voice in mind first, while then adding
complimentary visual effects. Start building these experiences by thinking of what utility they can offer
to your consumers, with e-commerce ability becoming a secondary function.

The Echo Show allows visual content to be paired with voice


based interactions. Look for Facebook and Google to
release their own form of a Voice + Visual device in 2018.

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PERSONALISED AUDIO

Google’s introduction of Voice Match in their Home devices, and Amazon’s similar functionality shortly
after, will be a major enabling factor towards a pervasive digital assistant. This technology allows the
Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa to recognise individual voices, leading to multi-user support
functionality. What this means is that based on contextual commands, they will be able to provide
personalised answers based on who is asking the question.

It does so by analysing vocal constructs, pitch, and tone to match an individual voice back to a Google
or Amazon account. By doing so, these devices can include a personalised mobile phone app allowing
users to make calls from their number, utilising their contact list.

This means that multiple users can tap into a truly personalised digital assistant. If dad asks ‘how long
is it going to take me to get to work this morning?’, the assistant will analyse the traffic routes to Dad’s
work, and not his wife or kids’. All of that information will be pulled and tracked through individual
Google accounts, allowing the assistant to move from one device to another – keeping track of daily
schedules, preferences, and more.

Implications

The ability to have multiple users on one device will proliferate the idea of personalised daily schedules
which are facilitated by the assistant. The smart speaker will grow to be the centre of a family’s smart
home, with the ability to personalise settings to individual users.

As a brand marketer, you must be asking yourself the question of how you can integrate yourself into
those schedules. Providing services and experiences that can be accessed from these assistants will
Amazon Alexa and Googles Assistant can discern individual become increasingly important. Building relevant actions and skills are going to become more and more
voices based on tone and pitch, allowing them to important as the assistant integrates itself deeper into our daily lives.
personalise individual schedules and intents.

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ENVIRONMENT

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PERVASIVE
ROBOTICS

The field of robotics has made immense strides in the past few years. Robots are increasingly making
their way into our daily lives, whether we like it or not. From healthcare assistants to autonomous
vehicles, we will all soon be interacting with them in one way or another.

Drones will soon be used to deliver aid and packages and businesses will invest more and more into
automated processes, resulting in the reallocation of jobs to creative and research-based roles. Robots
which are trained to recognise emotions and vitals signs will be used in healthcare to provide greater
assistance.

It will be important to ensure that these robots can interact in ways that are natural to us. For example,
that an autonomous vehicle slows down as it approaches a red light. It could stop on a sixpence, but
the programming will ensure that it slows down in a way that makes pedestrians feel comfortable
crossing the road.

Implications

Marketers need to determine how they are going to use robotics to enhance their side of the business.
Today, automation is a major investment area for robotics but moving into 2018; customer experience
will become a key consideration and revenue driver for the investment in this technology.

Brands that can successfully deploy strategies that offer utility through robotics will stand to see a first-
mover advantage, as well as further integrate themselves into consumers’ lives and daily schedules.
Jibo is a personalised robot designed to be an organiser,
educator, and healthcare assistant for family members. Ideally
it will play a central role in family and personal functions.

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BIOMETRIC SECURITY

Biometric security has led the way with regards to pushing a new paradigm of human-computer
interaction. Smartphones, tablets, PCs, trackpads, smart speakers, automobiles, door locks, and home
security systems have all benefited from increased biometrics.

Facial recognition on the new iPhone X will take us past the age of Touch ID and into a more secure
interaction. Just as Apple did previously, expect third-party apps to eventually be able to utilise Face ID
and its enhanced security. As previously touched upon, the Voice Match feature is bringing biometrics
to voice assistants, allowing personal accounts to be accessed simply by speaking to a device.

Moving forward, almost all of our connected devices will employ some form of biometric security. This
will lead to a more secure, frictionless and personalised user experience for all, as we make technology
work for us, and not the other way around.

Implications
Apple’s new Face ID will bring enhanced biometric security
Brands with consumer-facing products and services should look to determine what form of biometric
to the iPhone X. Eventually, our biometrics will play a role in security they can tap into or implement. Technological advances in sensors have made them affordable
all forms of connected security. and able to enhance a multitude of products.

In a world of increasing data hacks and schemes, consumers will increasingly come to expect high
performing forms of security. Consumer-facing products should view encryption and immutable
blockchain data transfers as complementary features to various forms of biometric security.

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Snapchat’s augmented art platform initially features artwork
from Jeff Koons placed at various popular tourist locations
around the world. The art reflects its surroundings based on
the physical location of the user.
AUGMENTED ART

At F8 last year, Facebook unveiled the idea of augmented reality art installations. Artists would be able
to create works of art that would then be overlaid onto the physical world, and only viewable through
Facebook’s camera platform. While that functionality hasn’t yet been released, Snapchat seemed to be
taking notes and soon beat them to the punch with their own Art platform.

Placed in major tourist spots around the world, Snapchat used iconic works of art from Jeff Koons
which were only visible through the lens of the app. Moving into 2018, more and more artists will be
featured through this platform, and augmented art will become prevalent around the world.

While augmented art may not seem like a huge deal, the idea that all users on this platform can see the
same digital installations is one of the core building blocks of a shared synthetic reality. What starts with
art will make its way into many other facets of our lives.

Implications

The Pokemon Go phenomenon last year showed us that AR could have a profound effect on how we
as consumers act in the physical world. When a rare Pokemon popped up, hundreds, if not thousands,
of people flocked to catch it. Once released, physical traffic to these digital art installations almost
instantly increased, as people were curious about what existed behind the veil of reality.

As an event marketer or brand builder for physical retail, getting people to go somewhere is half the
battle. As these platforms become more mature, these art installations will be able to be placed in areas
that are designed to drive traffic for marketers.

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MIXING REALITY

“What if a TV was just a €1 app that you purchased and viewed through some form of AR glasses?”
asked Mark Zuckerberg earlier this year. While that seems like a fun idea, it brings to light a trend that
has no plans of slowing down. The company that can build out the best AR tools and most robust
platform will reap the benefits of a large user base that essentially lives and purchases in their synthetic
reality.

Augmented art installations are just the start. As the friction between accessing augmented effects is
reduced, we’ll begin to see more and more uses that enhance the physical world while not taking us
away from it. We’ll begin to rely on these digital products, coming back day after day to access them,
offering monetisation opportunities.

This reality will likely be accessed through socially acceptable AR glasses or contacts. In 2018, we
should see these devices start to come to life. Microsoft’s Hololens will continue to offer new and
exciting use cases while Snapchat is rumoured to be releasing Spectacles 2.0 that should feature some
access to these effects. Additionally, there’s always the possibility we get access to Magic Leaps largely
speculated first consumer product.

Implications

As a marketer, how can your brand benefit from bridging the physical and digital world? It’s important to
start thinking about the experiences that you can create, that correspond to your brand’s values while
utilising the technology available. It could mean hidden digital coupons to geo-located personalised
offers.

When the day comes that these devices replace our mobile phones, we’ll see a massive shift in how
we consume content and information. Planning for that day now will ensure that your brand is not left
Magic Leap hopes to bring Mixed Reality to the mainstream, behind when it arrives.
allowing users to interact with digital content through an
easy to use input. 2018 may see the first product from the
multi-billion dollar valued company.
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CONNECTED INTELLIGENCE

First was the shift from “Everything is Connected” to “Everything is Intelligent”. Next, we’ll see a
concurrent movement to “Connected Intelligence”. This follows the idea of multi-modal computing in
which it’s not just about interactions with desktop and mobile devices, but voice, touch, vision, and
other modes of natural interaction.

The rise in edge computing will result in many devices being able to process data on the device
themselves, instead of passing that back and forth from the cloud. In turn, these devices will all have
some sort of intelligence.

In 2018, we’ll see the beginning of this trend through automated routines. Intelligent systems from
Amazon to Google and more will begin working together to achieve a user’s end goal. Walk into your
house, and your thermostat will adjust the temperature to your desire while your TV turns on the match
and the lights dim to your liking.

Implications

As our world becomes more intelligently connected, the attractiveness of having a single device will
become moot. Eventually our smartphones will make way for an interoperable system of touch points
that contextually understand who we are and what we need.

While there are many industrial implications for this trend in the near future, marketers need to
understand that we are moving towards a day in which marketing to connected systems will prove more
beneficial than marketing towards individuals and segments.

Edge computing was a strong focus at last years Microsoft


Build, bringing computing closer to where data is generated.
This allows central cloud services to be focused on
deployment, management, and storage.
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At F8, Facebook revealed work on a brain-computer
interface that allowed a paralysed patient to type eight words
BRAIN-COMPUTER
per minute using only her thoughts. The ultimate goal is to
get to upwards of 100 words per minute.
INTERFACE

If you really think about it writing and speaking, in their simplest form, are ways to compress and
communicate our thoughts. What if we surpassed those forms of compression, and went straight to the
source?

Facebook, Elon Musk’s Neuralink, and many others are attempting to accomplish just that. While the
technology is still around a decade away from being commercially accessible, it’s an important trend to
keep an eye on.

Ideally, this augmentation would be in the form of a non-implanted device, as the idea of implants won’t
necessarily sit well with the general public. The machines would scan your brain hundreds of times a
second and only relay the thoughts you wanted to share, leaving you to still be able to think freely.

Implications

While there are not necessarily any direct marketing implications for 2018, this is an important trend to
keep an eye on. The impact this technology will have on the general public will be of greater
significance than anything we’ve seen.

Brain augmentation will allow us to access information, control our devices, communicate thoughts, and
grow with artificial intelligence. To some, this may seem like a completely sci-fi idea, in reality, it’s a very
real trend that’s coming sooner than you may believe.

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BEYOND 2018

EVOLUTION OF EXPERIENCE

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GEN Z = ENHANCE VS CREATE
Gen Z is the first mobile-native generation. They are not only adept at consuming content, but they are
also avid creators. Our research shows that 69% view the camera as a platform and 66% have their
own YouTube Channel, with 83% using effect-based filters.

The next big battleground for consumer attention, especially Gen Z (1996-2010), will be around
enabling camera experiences through new forms of data infused augmented reality filters.

Experiences built to connect with Gen Z will need to focus on enabling the creation of effect-based
experiences versus pushing digitally centric content.

Implications

Snap, Facebook, and Apple understand that in order to truly create scale, the key is to empower
consumers, developers and other third parties to create experiences on their behalf. Consumer
empowerment is powerful and will accelerate adoption and ultimately influence consumer behaviour.

The democratisation of augmented reality powered by advancing artificial intelligence has the potential
to redefine content marketing, making it less about content and more about enabling experiences
through compelling and contextually relevant effects.

Apple’s launch of iOS 11 combined with hardware advances


tied to the iPhone X bring advanced augmented reality
capabilities. Apple’s release makes it the largest AR platform
in the world. Enabling experiences vs. creating will be key to
connect with Generation Z.

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SYSTEM BASED MARKETING

One of our central hypotheses for 2018 will be the rise of the proxy web. In the very near future,
consumers will have intelligent systems serving the role of their proxy for interactions with other
intelligent systems and brands.

Our research shows that Gen X and Boomers are the most open to systems such as proxies to assist
with reducing the complexity of emerging technology and to manage aspects of their lives.

Marketers will have to consider the consumer decision journey as well as system-based journeys to
connect, create experiences and ultimately be discovered.

Over time our interactions may shift from person-to-person to bot-to-bot. This will shift the focus from
pure consumer-centric marketing to marketing to algorithms and systems as proxies or agents for
consumers.

Implications

Building experiences for the proxy web will require a new approach to mapping journeys. It will be
important to understand that system based marketing will require a different strategy to ensure that
brand experiences are optimised for the intelligent ecosystems they will reside within.

An example of this is how a brand experience can vary within Google Assistant via actions.
Marketers need to consider both consumer decision journeys Experiences can be voice, voice and visual and the discoverability or connection of an experience
as well as system based journeys as consumers become more resides within an intelligent system.
dependent on proxies to manage various aspects of their lives.

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MOBILE DISRUPTION

Mobile user experience is ripe for disruption as we have essentially used the same native app-centric
interface since 2008.

With the rapid adoption of AI and the proxy web, we will soon begin to see a shift towards bundling of
services against stand-alone native applications. We are already beginning to see the consolidation of
services from Google, Apple, and Amazon.

This is essentially the bundling of various services which traditionally may have been a native app
experience into various services that are connected based on the context or need of the moment.

This will mean that most of the utility services that we engage and interact with today will become
middle-tier services that are called by an intelligent entity.

Implications

As we think about the evolution of multi-modal interfaces, touch, vision, voice, etc., the role of the
mobile device is going to significantly evolve as our environment becomes more intelligent.

Instead of the phone being a singular access point to data and information, it becomes another node in
Marketers dependent on native applications to connect with a larger ambient ecosystem.
consumers will need to shift their strategy to consider the
role of their application services within a bundle of services
that map to consumer need states that are delivered through
intelligent systems.

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AMBIENT COMPUTING

The best technology fades into the background, only to be summoned when you need it. Every piece of
technology we’ve seen leading into 2018 points to a future where your surroundings and senses
become touch-points and personal computing is omnipresent in the background helping inform
decisions and predicting behaviours.

Consumers will delegate the remedial, less important decisions and tasks to their personal assistants
and focus on more important decisions or activities like creating content or experiencing new
environments or places via mixed reality.

Implications

The connection of internal and external systems via sensors and 5G connectivity will lead to a
foundational shift that will allow technology to seamlessly interact and enhance our lives.

Instead of us initiating experiences via a mobile device, our environment becomes more connected,
combined with intelligent systems bundling services, and seamless interfaces to tap into experiences
via voice, vision and touch will lay the groundwork for the seamless connection of physical and digital.

For brand marketers, this means we need to identify the opportunities where we can leverage data and
technology to influence personal assistants, and identify opportunities where we can directly empower
5G Connectivity, pervasive sensors, the rise of multi-modal consumers to create, enhance their present day activities, or invoke emotions through immersive
interfaces will all contribute to technology that seamlessly experiences.
enhances our lives.

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SYNTHETIC REALITY

We are rapidly moving towards a frictionless connection between physical and digital that will redefine
our vision of reality. The evolution towards multi modal interfaces (voice, vision, touch) is a key driver
for the seamless connection between physical and digital. Marketers and developers alike have to
adapt to new form factors and considerations for how consumers will engage when their physical
worlds are augmented by personalised digital experiences.

The convergence of location data, computer vision, artificial intelligence driven predictive systems, and
augmented reality experiences will redefine how consumers will interact with the physical world and
give rise to new virtual economies.

Implications

With an ever-growing location graph fuelled by users, the rise of intelligent systems that can parse
massive amounts of data while taking on the processing burden of predictive APIs, the alignment of
computer vision centralised with smart assistants will synthesise our preferences into new and ever-
evolving realities.

For marketers to remain relevant when physical reality mixes with synthetic reality the key is to
understand the foundational elements of connection between the worlds. Experiences will need to be
The convergence of location data, virtual assistants, grounded in location data, viable across multiple modes of interface (voice, vision, touch) and crafted to
computer vision and augmented reality will redefine how we enhance digital experiences as well as understanding that as our world becomes more synthetic
Interact with the world around us. tangible physical experiences will be key to ground experiences.

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QUESTIONS OR INQUIRIES CAN BE SENT TO:

Nick Orsman Joseph Taylor Tom Edwards Ian Beacraft


SVP, Strategy & Insight Intl VP, Technology Chief Digital Officer, Agency VP, Digital Strategy
@nick_orsman @blackfin360 @IanBcraft

hello@epsilon.com
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