Smart data replaces big data, TV gets hyper-targeted, and artificial intelligence comes of age. This is just a taste of what’s in store for the global marketing industry in 2018.

We asked our team of marketing experts in Berlin and around the globe to give us their top industry predictions for the coming year. Here are the results.

OTT and streaming take centre stage

As the percentage of “cord-cutters” rises at an accelerated rate, all eyes will be on Streaming and Over The Top TV in 2018. The competition in both live streaming TV and OTT will increase as new products roll out into the market. Some of the products rumoured to launch in 2018 are Disney’s on-demand streaming service, which will directly compete with Netflix, as well as live streaming television from CBS Sports and ESPN.

– Angélica Veras, Senior International Media Buyer, US

AI (really) arrives in advertising

2018 will be the year in which AI enters every aspect of advertising. More and more channels will be digitized and optimized automatically, ad spend decisions will be based on predictive analytics and ads will be increasingly individualized. Our experience in making marketing measurable helps us to readily embrace this paradigm shift.

– Dr Markus Düttmann, Data Strategist

Forget big data – it’s all about smart data

I personally expect that more and more companies will learn how to use their big data and make it useful on a broader level to grow their business. They will also involve more and more meaningful data into their decision-making processes. At the same time, artificial intelligence and machine learning will improve further, taking marketing efficiency to the next level. Predictions on the ROI of campaigns will play a big role in this.

– Andreas Dengler, Co-Founder and Managing Director

The addressable TV arms race heats up

An arms race for programmatic or at least more addressable, targeted TV campaigns seems to be in the works for 2018. In the UK, ITV have announced a partnership with Sorensen Media which will enable advertisers to serve more targeted adverts on select Smart TVs by the end of Q1 2018. Channel 4 have also announced that for the first time they will be allowing advertisers access to more of their 1st party data (location, age and other data entry points) to be used for All4 (VOD) campaigns – this will launch at the end of Q1 2018. Meanwhile, Sky are finalising a partnership with Virgin Media which will enable Virgin households to be served Adsmart (adding a further 1.5m UK homes). At present, Adsmart adverts are able to target around 15.5m UK households.

– Andy Brown, Senior Media Planner & Karl Ohaka, Senior International Media Buyer, UK

Brands look to Africa as the next marketing frontier

Africa’s informal economy is a huge untapped territory (70%) and will become a big driver for larger brands and investors to penetrate. Brands need to understand that the western way will not always work, hence paving the way for start-ups to focus on solutions. Access to the internet and data is still hugely expensive, but solutions will be created to bring these costs down. As the digital market goes from strength to strength, we expect to see an even greater emphasis on technological solutions for marketers, such as TV tracking. We’re very excited to be one of the first to bring this brand-new product to South Africa.

– Irina Herf, General Manager & Jens Herf, Head of Business Development, South Africa

Creativity gets data-driven

At DCMN, we believe that data and creativity go hand-in-hand. The creative industry is becoming increasingly data-driven, allowing marketers to consistently produce ads which convert and to be just as performance-focused with their creative as they are with their media strategy. We’re in the process of developing data-focused solutions that will be implemented from the very start of the creative process, including in brainstorming and concepting. In practice, this means we’ll be able to create even more relevant ads based on a foundation of smart data and market research.

– Lennart Frank, Creative Director

Social media networks go TV-style

In the battle for the time of their audiences, social media networks are ramping up their investments to transform their platforms into leading destinations for professional video content. Snapchat and Twitter for instance have just announced a partnership with Fox Sports to showcase coverage of the upcoming FIFA World Cup, while Facebook is willing to spend as much as 1 billion dollars on original video content this year. While so far their main focus was on  on shareable clips or experimental live streams of events, this year they will shift their efforts towards longer narratives and more sophisticated content. Going forward they may become serious challengers to established video content platforms and to a certain extent even to traditional TV networks.

– Archana Vilalba, Senior Strategic Planner, France

2018 will be the year for AI in e-commerce

By 2020, as much as 85% of customer interactions could be managed without human intervention, according to Gartner. Analysts believe that in 2018 many online retailers will start to leverage the convenience and 24/7 availability of artificial intelligence fronted by chatbots for managing customer service queries and making intelligent purchase recommendations. Customers will become comfortable with interacting with chatbots as they browse online stores, in the same way they’d ask a shop assistant in a physical store. Advanced technology will continue to transform the digital landscape, as this year AR and VR technologies will influence how consumers shop and interact with brands. As AI-powered chatbots become even smarter, it will also give rise to new opportunities like blockchain technology, making e-commerce a truly interesting sector to watch.

– Surabhi Kanjilal, Senior Strategic Brand Manager, India