The new year is upon us. 2018 brought us the proliferation of voice-activated technology, real advancements in Artificial Intelligence, and almost every-other person we know quitting their jobs to become Influencers. Now, we’re at the crux of understanding the Internet and the power it gives to marketers everywhere. Here are my predictions of five marketing trends to come in 2019.

1 – Data integration will change the workforce and requisite skills

Data, we love it, we (sort of) know it. In 2018 marketers talked about using data to make decisions, but in 2019 I believe they will actually do so. This comes in many forms: looking to data for solutions rather than going with a gut feeling, defining what success looks like and the metrics that will inform that success, and leveraging user behavior data in emerging technology to learn more about the consumer.

The proliferation of data into the job descriptions of marketers now means that organizations need to change their hiring models. Rather than hiring one data scientist to do all the “math,” the entire marketing department, project team, or agency needs to have an underlying understanding of data for making decisions. Creatives now need to think analytically, and analysts need to think creatively, ultimately resulting in companies of integrators.

This shift may result in a heavier reliance on tools. Marketing data platforms seem to be everywhere, and it doesn’t seem like one product has really nailed it. I predict data and marketing tools will continue to saturate the market, and organizations will rely on these tools to fill data knowledge gaps.

2 – Hyper-personalization will influence content creation and audience targeting

With the increased access to data, brands continue to manipulate their communications based on user behavior, demographic, and geographic data. Facebook allows advertisers to target users within one mile of any address, and Twitter allows them to target based on trends. Integrated campaign planning provides the opportunity to re-target users on Instagram once they’ve searched for and landed on a webpage from google. Content creators can now cater ads for users on a near-individual level, integrating AI to test and apply messaging based on user location, and serving ads based on user behavior.

These capabilities might be a little creepy, and who’s to say it won’t be hindered by government regulation? But all signs point to continued advancements toward more tailored, direct marketing.  Get your agencies, creators, and strategists ready.

3 – Connected devices will prove to be a gold mine for marketers

With smart technology and wearable devices, IoT is an opportunity mecca for marketers. Whether a shoe company is tracking steps or a hockey team is raising awareness of team performance and scheduling through Alexa and Google Home, users are given convenience while brands are collecting and analyzing their data. This interconnectedness of devices offers brands the opportunity to track users, their behaviors, and remarket to them on any device.

4 – Influencers will become less celebrity, more content creator

Over $1 billion was spent on Instagram influencers in 2018. They are clearly making an impact and also making an income. While brands have tapped into this alternative form of marketing, and semi-celebrities have benefited from their social following, users are catching on, finding influencers less authentic, understanding that some pay for their followers and only recommend products because they’re getting compensated.

To adapt to this, brands are shifting the way they leverage the undeniable reach of these individuals. Angry Orchard leveraged their relationship with photographer Ari Weiss to create content directly for their brand. Attributing the photography to Weiss was mutually beneficial–Weiss followers were exposed to Angry Orchard and Angry Orchard fans were exposed to Ari. Brands deem this tactic as more authentic and a way to source a variety of content.

5 – Social media will (continue) morphing into one big eCommerce site

As social media allows brands to reach a larger community of users, it opens more opportunity for sales. Branded eCommerce is happening directly on social platforms, and capabilities continue to become more sophisticated. Instagram’s product tagging, saved stories, and native payments create an entire marketplace for consumers to complete a purchase without even leaving the platform. As these offerings become more widespread, social media companies will likely earn a pretty penny in commission over on-site eCommerce and new retargeting capabilities.

In Conclusion

We’re on the path for these trends to come to life. Trends are also pointing toward a changed use of the Internet in general. This year, congressional hearings offered an opportunity for older generations to understand the nuances of how the Internet works. Not only that, but Net Neutrality is dead, and data regulation is likely to become more strict, and may require social platforms to rethink their revenue models. Viable alternatives to advertising may be subscription-based modeling, real revenue from eCommerce capabilities, or scraping commission from influencers.

Anything is possible in the world of marketing. We’ll report back in a year.