The hangover has just faded. Diets are starting. Gyms are full to the brim. It must be January. And with all that self-reflection and salad comes hope and excitement for the year ahead. What does 2018 have in store?
Personally, I’m hoping for a kitten and a lottery win. But as for the world of social media — if 2017 is anything to go by, it’ll be full of surprises. Here are my top five predictions for the year ahead in social.
1. Breaking into the walled garden
Way back in January 2017, Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer of Procter & Gamble, set the tone for the year with his industry-shaking keynote speech at the IAB’s annual leadership conference. In it, he took aim at various targets, but Facebook and Google sat firmly at the top of the list. He announced that P&G was done with accepting the duopoly’s self-regulated metrics, and would be demanding that all partners adopt third-party, accredited verification of audience numbers.
P&G is the biggest advertiser on Earth, so this speech rang very loud alarm bells for those on the iron throne of digital. But more than that, it sent ripples through the industry and got all advertisers thinking about the frankly quite low standards these platforms had previously been held to.
For years there’s been frustration with both “walled gardens” and the almost impossible feat of achieving a fully holistic view of a user journey. Add to that a catalog of measurement errors from Facebook in the last 18 months, and the rose-tinted glasses were starting to fall off.
In 2018, this growing discontent is only likely to get louder. Facebook can no longer continue to hide its data in an opaque bubble. It must provide more transparency and opportunities for integration with third-party tools — otherwise, it risks that frustration turning into decreased revenue.
2. A boost for Snapchat’s ad revenue
It wasn’t the best year for Snapchat. After its IPO in March, stock prices rapidly fell, and earnings for 2017 were significantly lower than expected. Meanwhile, after brazenly stealing Snapchat’s ideas with its own take on stories, Instagram’s version surpassed its predecessor with more than 200 million daily active users in April, just eight months after it was launched.
But Snapchat is learning very rapidly from its earlier mistakes. Where before there were large minimum spends, now there are none. It recently released a pixel to address accusations of a lack of transparency or ability to measure ROI. And a total redesign of its app is a response to older users reportedly struggling to navigate the interface.
While all these changes were made last year, you don’t shake off a reputation overnight. Many advertisers are still under the impression that Snapchat is just an expensive way to target teenagers, with no ability to measure success. This year, I predict the message that this is no longer the case should start to sink in and Snapchat will see ad revenue grow from an increasingly diverse group of advertisers.
3. Instagram’s #dominance
Just last month, Instagram announced the new capability for users to follow hashtags, as well as other users.
For now, this is strictly organic, but it’s only a matter of time before it gets monetized. Advertisers could pay to target followers of particular hashtags, or…