1. Improvements in AR

Augmented reality has been a buzzword for many years, but we are finally starting to see it make an impact in advertising.

Once Pokémon Go hit our mobiles in 2016, to much fanfare and headline-grabbing success, many in the advertising and marketing industry speculated that this would herald the arrival of a flurry of AR-based content formats. But the predicted deluge has failed to appear in the last couple of years.

It does, however, seem as though finally we are moving into a world where AR is becoming more mainstream. Facebook has already been testing AR-driven video adverts with brands like Michael Kors, which should be available for full rollout in 2019. Marketers hope that this will aid the online shopping journey, helping customers to ‘experience’ products and make a purchase without needing to try them on.

2. Growth of Syndicated Content

With the rise of Netflix and Amazon Video, watching content online is more popular than ever before, with Ofcom revealing that total daily viewing time for online now stands at just over five hours, compared to less than three and a half for broadcast TV. As a result, the major social platforms are creating their own content to retain as many users as possible.

Twitter, for example, has already covered NFL matches, Oscar nominee announcements and even Transfer Deadline Day with SkySports, while Facebook has launched its Watch platform for short form video. Even Instagram has got involved with their new IGTV feature for longer form video. Elsewhere, Snapchat is said to been working on its own content series, working with as many as 17 different media brands to build bespoke content for its Shows platform.

As syndicated content continues to grow, you can expect more and more content created specifically for these social channels instead of traditional TV platforms. This will mean that advertising on these platforms will more closely resemble TV-style advertising, but with the added benefit of the measurement capabilities that digital offers.

3. Need for Greater Automation

Automation has always had huge benefits in marketing strategy, but has often been out of reach for all except the mega brands.

The concept of creating an algorithm or AI that can save you time and money has always been exciting, but automation is predicted to be even bigger in 2019.

If your budgets are looking tight, we’d recommend that you invest in building some level of automation to handle everyday and low-level customer queries, freeing up resource for you to dedicate to bigger issues..

Chatbots are likely to be at the forefront of this. Typically, chatbots are built for social media channels or brand websites to handle customer service queries, but they can also be extended to other facets of the business. Dominos, for example, offers the ‘Dom’ bot on Facebook Messenger, allowing customers to order pizzas quickly and easily. Similarly, Lufthansa’s Mildred bot finds the best fares for customers through Facebook Messenger.

The rise in messaging applications means that brands have a new platform to connect with their customers. A chatbot also is not restricted by time of day or public holidays unlike a human. IBM predicts that by 2020, 85% of all customer interactions will be handled without a human present. Resolving a customer issue before it arises could become key for brands to avoid high abandonment rates.

4. Increase in Dark Social

Although the name may sound sinister, dark social refers to social sharing that can’t be accurately tracked (often causing headaches for social media managers). Private messaging apps, such as WhatsApp and Snapchat, are part of the dark social category due to their ‘closed’ format. The presence of dark social has been growing recently, with data suggesting that 84% of social sharing now happens via dark social.

2019 is the year for businesses to start taking advantage of dark social. Clicking the ‘Share’ button on Facebook is an increasingly dated form of engagement, and yet 90% of social advertising budgets go directly to the social networks themselves. The use of apps such as WhatsApp and Messenger are going from strength to strength, with some estimates saying that over 2 billion users will use messaging apps by the end of 2019. and brands can capitalise on this. It is therefore important to create mobile-first content and build a concrete tracking solution designed to be where your customers are hanging out in 2019.

5. Deeper Integration of Social Media

Social media is already heavily entrenched in our digital lives, but there are many other ways your data can be used in a GDPR-friendly way). As an example, in October, Microsoft announced that Bing adverts can utilise LinkedIn’s targeting data. It would not be a stretch to predict that, due to this, similar integrations are surely just around the corner.

This is especially important for ecommerce clients, as there will likely be a huge emphasis placed on building a more robust shopping experience on social media. Snapchat has already announced that it is looking to incorporate Amazon’s ecommerce platform and Facebook has its own payment system for certain areas, so it will surely only be a matter of time for items to be marketed and purchased without having to leave the platform to complete the transaction.

There has also been a lot of chatter about the role of social in smart home technologies – most notably Facebook are working on their own set of devices to rival the Google Home and Amazon Echo. More touchpoints will mean more robust stacks of data that social media companies and, by extension, advertisers, could leverage.

6. Improvements in Social Attribution & Measurement

Social attribution and measurement has always been a thorn in the side of the social media marketer, as proving the value of social media is a complicated process. While there are solutions available, they aren’t often available to small or medium businesses due to the extra costs involved. As a result, the major social media players have been working hard behind the scenes to improve the overall product of paid social media in order to prove its worth.

What form this will take is still unclear, although Facebook has been planning a number of new products recently. They have already unveiled a new attribution function in addition to their analytics platform, so we expect that this will be improved over the coming months.

Additionally, Snapchat has announced a partnership with Comscore to measure publisher reach for the Discover channels, giving advertisers vital independent measurement data.

Another tool known to be in testing recently is ‘self-serve’ brand lift measurement. This is currently available in the USA and Canada, and is expected to reach the rest of the world soon. When it does, it will provide brands and advertisers with a much deeper understanding of an ad campaign’s effect on your brand.

7. More Live Video

This has probably been on every trend list for years, but with good reason! Live video is continuing to grow with each year and the industry expects it to be even bigger in 2019.

A recent study from Livestream suggests that 80% of users would rather watch a video than read a blog and 82% prefer live video from a brand to a social post.

The authentic and unpolished behind-the-scenes nature of the content will always shine through over traditional content. What’s more, in 2019 it has been estimated that video will make up 80% of all internet traffic. Long story short, if live video is not in your 2019 marketing strategy…it should be.

8. Snapchat on Life Support

This prediction may seem unusual but it is not out of the realms of possibility. Snapchat’s quarterly figures have not made for good viewing; every quarter of this year, it has posted a loss, in addition to regular and significant drops in users. It therefore seems inevitable to us that Snapchat will have to reach a tipping point in the not-too-distant future.

In the last quarter alone, Snapchat saw a loss of $325m (£255m). It also hasn’t helped that Facebook has been ‘cloning’ Snapchat’s best features and effectively stealing their users as a result, but this is not the sole source of their decline.

Users are leaving the platform in their millions and it may take something drastic to bring them back. There have also been new apps, such as Tik Tok (formally called Musically), which has begun to muscle in on Snapchat’s turf. Facebook have also recently launched their own ‘viral clips’ app, Lasso, intended to rival Snapchat. A major update at the beginning of 2018 went down like a lead balloon (and even caused Kylie Jenner to stop using it – a move that cost more than $1.5bn from Snapchat’s share value). She since returned but the problems did not go away.

One of the major problems that Snapchat needs to tackle is identifying where it can actually achieve meaningful growth. While Snapchat currently rules in the 13-24 year old demographic, which still makes it the ideal platform for targeting a younger audience, if Snapchat was to go after an older audience it would surely die faster. The precise moment that parents start using the platform will be the exact moment that the teens leave.

While it may not completely be the end for Snapchat next year, or even at all, it may take something large to bring it out of this major decline.

If you’re wanting to streamline your social media strategy ready for the new year, speak to our PPC team who will be happy to take your call.