Digitisation, progressing ever more quickly, offers fascinating new possibilities for marketing. Never before has it been possible to get so close to customers outside the POS and reach them without any wastage. But this new digital proximity also requires a change of approach if it is to work. Less promotional, but more appreciative. If you want to reach the final click for a decision, you have to communicate at eye level, take the person addressed seriously and speak their language. That’s why, in addition to smart technology, we also need smart storytellers and visual magicians who, with what they create, hit the emotional bullseye dead on. You can also fall in love with brands at the first click. Whether anything more comes of this is decided by a content strategy that always feels as though it had been developed just for you alone.

Two of the mega marketing trends remain: contextual and customer centricity. What does this mean for media? Both trends must be served by real-time media and geo intelligence. At the same time, we are required to operate and display these via all touch points in a demand-oriented manner and to be close to the consumer in real time.

The fragmentation caused by digitisation and the increasing amount of data that we all leave behind holds a huge treasure trove that is still used far too little. Contextually and in real time, we can thus create much more relevance in terms of content, because we take into account and focus on the local needs and particularities, as well as people’s mentalities. A different message is needed in Hamburg than in Munich. The approach in Cologne must be different from the one in Düsseldorf. If we are already diversifying target groups and reaching them through targeting, then translation into the region is an absolute necessity. Geo intelligence can do this and much more: In addition to media planning, our customers also need more and more support with profitability forecasts, screening of existing POS and sales areas as well as support with their expansion plans.

In the search for the trends for 2018, everyone likes to look at his desk in a reflexive manner and describe the topics that can be found there.

I’m afraid that won’t last much longer. The long preached collaboration of all disciplines and perspectives will become a trend in 2018, and the practice will demand it. Open thinkers lead and combine offline, online, artificial intelligence and common sense into a strong commitment to brands and customers.

Collaboration in our understanding transcends all boundaries. Between departments, companies, customers, partners. It is a matter of close cooperation between people with different perspectives and skills, but with a common goal: to develop new, future-oriented solutions.

Undoubtedly, this will be a wonderful, inevitable feat of strength! And we will all have to stretch out to overcome the horizon of our own desks.

In 2018 we will creatively prepare ourselves to combine technology and storytelling in new ways. With the rapid pace of technical development, it will not only be possible to create different content for different people, but also to make the content reactive. A film that notices that I’m in a bad mood and tries to cheer me up, but surprises another user with another ending; a visual that immerses my mood in colours; music that adapts to my situation. In terms of narrative, this results in infinite, progressive possibilities.

We are in an age when we must constantly change. A world where agility is utmost. It is no longer a matter of classic change management. We must enable a working culture of willingness to change. A culture in which people have the right mindsets and tools for continuous development and rapid changes.

Digitisation has undoubtedly created great new opportunities in recent years. Opportunities that have brought us closer to our customers and that help us tailor our products and services even more closely to them. Yet even though we can now calculate every marketing campaign and every sales figure down to the smallest detail, one thing should not fall by the wayside: our intuition.

Because as colourful and diverse as our beautiful new world may be, mankind has basically remained who we always were: a sentient, empathetic being who longs for real contacts, wants to understand and be understood, who questions and participates and who still trusts in his very own – completely analogous – instincts: feeling, seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling.

For 2018, the challenge is to combine the many opportunities of the digital with our empathic and intuitive capabilities – and to get the best out of both worlds, both for the customer and for our own employees.

Ukrainian marketing is increasingly integrating into the global market. Therefore, in 2018 we will see different adaptations and interpretations of global communication trends at local level.

First, Big Data. Personal data is becoming an increasingly promising platform for transactions between brands and consumers in Ukraine. The coming year will increase the number of Big Data supporters among local market players.

The trend of personalized content will also continue its rise. During the last years Ukrainian business has been increasingly using advantages of direct online dialog with its consumers.

Smartphonization is one of the reasons why video on the go is becoming more and more popular. In 2018 online video content will remain preferable and influential communication channel for Ukrainian brands.

In the upcoming year Ukrainians will go on ignoring offline and online advertising successfully. The reply for this stable tendency will be native advertising that will focus on search for the most sophisticated ways of integration into popular media content.

Niche bloggers will play the increasing role in communications in 2018. Being opinion leaders for narrow online audiences, they can effectively use all advantages of personalized content and online video.

Also the increasing role of corporate blogs in marketing communications should be mentioned. An opportunity to communicate with consumers directly and to respond to changes in consumer demand quickly is an instrument that Ukrainian brands only begin to fully benefit from.

2017 was a boom for live temporary video users, thanks to Facebook Live, Facebook Stories and Instagram Stories. 2018 is looking to be the year of the temporary video for brands. It is no longer necessary to invest in large productions, these formats have more real, spontaneous and live content. This, together with the surge in influencers, means that brands don’t even need to create the content: it is the third parties who generate it, with the relevance that users demand and the brand only needing to manage promotion. On Instagram we are already seeing this type of strategy in that brands promote influencers’ posts in which their products are featured.

Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and digital twins

Although these three terms are nothing new, 2018 is looking to be a year of progress in this sense. The evolution of artificial intelligence so that machines learn and “make decisions” will be relevant for certain business models. With the rise in machine learning within the industry, the processes are increasingly efficient, there is an increase in quality and the productivity of some businesses since they are able to “control” faults within virtual environments.

2018 is going to be the year of machine learning, especially in the field of consumer segmentation and improvement of automated message personalization processes. Thanks to marketing leaders from Silicon Valley, learning algorithms are already in widespread use. However, we are entering a new stage in the application of these mechanisms beyond advertising systems like Adwords, Doubleclick and Facebook.

Marketers are getting better at gathering and integrating user information all the time. Their allies include global giants like Google. A good example of this is Google’s partnership with Salesforce, announced in November of this year, which, in addition to its positive impact on the amount of information collected, will also affect its quality.

The challenge for agencies and marketers alike is to put their own analytical capabilities up against those of machines—we are, in the end, susceptible to errors, and with such a large amount of data and variables, as well as the complexity of users’ paths to purchase, the risk of mistakes increases. In order to draw conclusions quickly enough and then apply them in the real optimization of user experience, we need to put more emphasis on technology and especially on the possibilities offered by artificial intelligence.

The Middle East consumer’s appetite for luxury has grown insatiable, at best gluttonous, so much so that online luxury malls, open 24/7, are now an emerging powerhouse. Ounass, “The Definitive Home of Luxury” from retail giant Al Tayer Group promises free 2-hour delivery within Dubai, while The Modist, “The First Ever Luxury Modest Fashion Destination” launched from a formidable start-up promises a platform that includes a personal shopping and styling team, 24/7 customer concierge service, and same-day delivery in the Middle East. Both are a direct response to Net-A-Porter’s success in a region which now represents an average order value 50% higher than the rest of the world. But digital retail is only half the luxury equation in the Middle East. Tangible experiences – in the form of brick and mortar stores clobbered up in “luxury wings” of prominent malls are now co-existing with pop-ups the magnitude, detail, and scale of actual retail stores. “Tan-gital” is the tight path between exclusive, physical on-ground experiences and the trend of forming luxury malls online. A trend with a win-win situation?