The issues we’re watching in 2019.

By Chris Wexler, SVP Executive Director of Media and Analytics

Every turn of the calendar year, I get asked what I think is going to be the topic(s) de jour for the coming year. While predictions are difficult to make, there are issues that seem to bubble up and gain mindshare. When we look to the next 12 months – and beyond – here are the issues we’re watching.

The inescapable word below is data. It will undoubtedly be a focus this year as marketers work to use data better and more transparently. All the while, consumers will also gain more awareness as to just how much of their data is out there and start to demand control of it.

Marketing and business are moving beyond big data

If you just have data these days, that isn’t enough. It’s how you structure, access and activate data that allows for faster behavioral change of organizations and their customers. This will be how the most dynamic marketing organizations win in the marketplace. Data engineers, data scientists and data strategists will be the fast-growing marketing titles for years to come.

The re-imagining of big creativity

No longer will a great creative campaign be just a big idea or a single stunt. This is already happening, but it will continue and become the norm. The greatest creative ideas will have to seamlessly travel between advertising, social and earned media channels into a single approach. The great creative and strategic minds of tomorrow’s marketers will think systemically. Systemic thinking will mean a reimagining of the role of every consumer channel. The best ideas will morph and live distinctively across all consumer touch-points. Connected thinking will win the day with consumers.

The chase for the ethical algorithm

Algorithms drive business decisions more and more. We have seen how flaws in assumptions built by data scientists have backfired for the companies relying on their algorithms. The messy and hard task of building ethics into an algorithm that treats all consumers fairly (and legally – algorithmic redlining may become a term that more corporate lawyers will have to defend). Ethical algorithms will not only lead to happier customers, but less risky business practices – those two forces will drive this change starting in 2019 for years to come.

The mainstreaming of advertising personalization

One of the ways marketers will move beyond big data is through ever more sophisticated and effective personalization approaches. The marketers that build their personalization on psychology of choice in the moment – leveraging the latest in AI, machine learning and behavioral science – will emerge as true leaders.

The emergence of a true value exchange around personal data

As consumers see the value of the data they share to companies, they will continue their push to control data they share. As a result, marketers will begin to have to communicate what the consumer gets by sharing their data. Most consumers will be willing to share data if it means a better product faster and cheaper. But they won’t if they don’t understand how brands are doing it. Data policy will start to move out of the legal mouse print and into the broader conversation between consumer and brands.

Blockchain will continue to be a buzzword but break out of cryptocurrency in a big way

Blockchain as a process will enter the broader world of business in many ways. From supply chain management to mass collaboration, you will see more and more creative applications of blockchain methodology. In advertising, leveraging blockchain to fight fraud and brand safety issues in Programmatic will change the game – building trust in an otherwise murky market and bringing billions of dollars from nervous advertisers into the market.

The continuing merger of digital and TV

We aren’t talking just streaming here but the emergence of more granular data, from set top boxes to smart TVs, that will change the way that marketers evaluate TV forever. From Roku to Samsung, companies large and small are putting previously unavailable data into the marketing ecosystem. The result will be a more granular understanding of the impact of linear TV, and innovation in messaging, targeting and eventually creative that will change TV advertising for the better for many consumers.