Published: 15 December 2017

I’m going to say right off the bat that after all the twists and turns 2017 brought to the world, I’m glad that I only have to make predictions about Digital Marketing.

Let’s just say I would not have written a “Yearly Predictions” blog or hosted a webinar on the subject if I worked in the toy industry, politics or the movie industry...

Nope, I’m very very thankful that I only have to worry about Digital trends. Nice and comfy and completely separate from any of the other madness that this year brought us (although we do have a few fidget spinners in the office).

Now that the year is drawing to a close, the time has come for me to get out my red pen and take a good look at what actually happened this year in the world of Digital…

Prediction #1: The Continuing Rise of Voice Search

What Did I Think Would Happen?
After conducting an experiment to test their limits, I quickly fell in love with the advent of capable voice search assistants. I was fully confident that even though many had never tried using it, it would become a more accepted part of the way we interact with the internet, and brands would have to prepare.


What Actually Happened?
I’m going to give myself a gold medal on this one. In January, Amazon announced that they had already sold more than 11 million Echo devices, and a further 10 million were expected to ship in the US alone for the rest of the year. By June, it was estimated that 9% of all UK households owned an Echo, and by then the Google Home had also launched in the UK.
With this flood of devices came an awareness that people could already use the voice assistants that came built-in with their phones.

That’s not to say the technology is perfected yet.

According to YouGov, 19% of owners say they don’t like their voice assistants, with 51% saying it makes regular mistakes… There’s clearly a long way to go, but the rise has well and truly begun.

Prediction #2: SERPs Continuing to Drive a “Customer Journey Without Websites”

What Did I Think Would Happen?
“This year saw even more updates to Google’s Mobile SERPs, which have made it easier for customers to book hotels online, without ever visiting a website.


“This all comes down to two things: User Experience, and Structured Data. While a website is important, Google allows users to skip navigating through your own timetables and booking forms, in order to give users a quicker option. Google does it this way, because their SERPs allow you to choose date parameters, segment certain aspects (distance, “cheap”, etc), and then make a call by touching a result from the list.”
Google have stated in the past that they aim to create such a journey, and 2017 will show a continued trend towards this.

What Actually Happened?
While this isn’t exactly what happened, 2017 did see an enthused bid from giant marketing platforms such as YouTube and Facebook to introduce targeting based on offline behaviours, via location data. It seems that Digital brands are being encouraged to bridge the gap and take the guesswork out of offline activities, so while my prediction was a miss, I’m interested to see where this goes in 2018.

Prediction #3: Virtual Reality Will Become a Bigger Part of Ours

What Did I Think Would Happen?
“2016 is the year people truly started to notice and get excited about VR, even if it's not completely taken over yet. Plenty of Influencers and conference speakers have stated that “VR will change Travel Marketing”, and yet whenever I speak with others in my industry, it's obvious that they don’t truly believe in it yet.

"With both Facebook and YouTube allowing for 360 content, VR is virtually (ahem) designed for cultivating upstream interest from potential customers, and engagement and retention are always high.

"What more could you ask for?”


What Actually Happened?

“What more could you ask for?”, well, for the industry to stop fumbling around, for one… This is my big disappoint for the year. While I was ready to jump on the VR train in 2016, the rest of the world hasn’t quite gotten there yet, which means marketers aren’t either. No point marketing to a userbase that doesn’t exist!

This is all down to awareness, and vitally: price of play.

While 2017 saw VR pioneers Oculus GREATLY reduce the price of their Oculus Rift consumer set, there barrier for entry is still massively high (it requires a hefty PC and lots of room space). As for mobile VR, the lack of content is causing users to lose interest. Tech demos can only get you so far…

Next year, Googles own standalone VR set launch may renew some interest, but 2017 showed that if the platform has nothing truly valuable and long-lasting to appeal to users, there's just no way VR is going to stick around, and people will stay in “Real Reality”.

Which means my enthusiasm for VR in 2017 might have been a tad early (at least the Sagittarius team had fun with it this year).

Did you see anything this year that proved my predictions right? What do you think is going to be big in 2018? Send us a tweet @sagittariusmktg!

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