December 13, 2018

Naughty or Nice: Reflecting on 2018


As 2018 comes to a close, we reached out to a few influential marketing leaders and media executives to get their take on the most important developments of the past year, as well as what they expect for 2019. We asked three questions, and here’s what they had to say.

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QUESTION #1: What marketing trend surprised you in 2018?

Christa Carone is the president of Group Nine Media, and she was struck by what she describes as the explosion of experiential marketing: “It’s refreshing to see marketers understand the value of creating real life experiences that create advocacy for their brands.”

“In 2018 we saw current and political affairs (think Russia, #MeToo, and data breaches) impact trust in our media outlets,” said Jennifer Telek, vice president of marketing at the Hub Group. “As marketers, we’re having to add a new filter to channel selection.”

Andrea Sullivan is the Chief Client and Marketing Officer at VaynerMedia and was thrilled to see mobile and physical marketing programs finally getting some traction in the states, “From geo-fenced mobile activations (ex. BK .01 Whopper) to AR-enabled OOH (ex. FB + Ready Player One) to QR codes on packs and signage (ex. Ritz’s ‘Top Your Ritz’ Sweeps), we’re seeing US brands bridge the gap between physical and digital more than ever before.”

Jen Brown, SVP of Strategic Integration and Portfolio Marketing at NBCUniversal: “It’s been interesting to see companies that have traditionally limited their spends to digital start to embrace linear and connected TV.”


QUESTION #2: Who was the most influential person associated with a brand in 2018?

Not surprisingly, many of our executives mentioned the Nike campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick.  Aniko DeLaney is the global head of corporate marketing at BNY Mellon and she described the work as “unexpected and unprecedented.  Nike took a big risk entering a controversial and divisive conversation, but won.  Its stock price soared and its digital channels saw double digit growth. ”

“Because I’m personally passionate about the product, I’ve enjoyed watching Peloton’s marketing campaigns play out on linear, digital and in real life (IRL),” remarks Brown. “The amount of first-party data they can access to plan their product and marketing road maps is enviable.”

And for Telek? “I can’t have just one. Oprah and WeightWatchers, and (love-her-or-loathe-her) Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop.

Jen Abel, co-founder of JJellyfish, a development firm for early-stage enterprise start-ups, adds Elon Musk to the list because of his consideration to “take Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” Influential, definitely. Ethical, maybe not.


QUESTION #3: What is your number one prediction for 2019 in terms of digital media?

DeLaney described the tension between data security and the importance of providing streamlined, personalized experiences: “I believe in 2019, marketers need to fine tune how we protect privacy in light of regulations such as GDPR, yet at the same time enhance the digital experience.”

Brown concurs: “Winners in the data wars will be able to harness their audiences to deliver on personalization, increased marketing efficiency, and enriched ad experiences.” She also predicts a move toward revenue diversification and says “beyond ad supported models, there are several interesting pockets of experimentation in the works. No one has found the Holy Grail just yet, but maybe 2019 will be the year.”

Carone mentioned data privacy concerns as well, predicting that “marketers will become much more selective in their partnerships.”

Abel expects to see the “continued rise of voice-search, especially in the home.” She explains, “The under 10 primary search feature is YouTube’s Kids Voice-Activated Search. Why?  They’re too young (or become too frustrated) as to how to spell most of their favorite videos.”

“The age of ‘fewer, bigger bets’ is winding down and we’re going to see more brands lean into the analytics capabilities of social and digital to dial up the volume of content in all forms small and big” says Sullivan.  She’s also excited about new AI-powered tools noting “they are making it easier to version creative so it feels relevant to lots of different audiences, and smart media groups are working hand-in-hand with creatives to put out a ton, see what works, and double-down on what resonates with the audiences that matter.”

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