As we look ahead to 2018, there are some clear pattern emerging when it comes to digital marketing and advertising. What’s in and out? Here are my predictions for 2018:

Content Marketing, SEO, and Value Exchange

With the reduced reach of social and the continuing fragmentation of media, marketers are finding the need to drive people back to their website and apps and rely less on social referral.

Let’s face it. Nobody likes advertising. Is it any wonder? Consumers now are exposed to more than 10,000 brand messages a day. All of it is an interruption into content or daily activities that nobody is seeking.

“This whole idea of an attention span is, I think, a misnomer. People have an infinite attention span if you are entertaining them.” — Jerry Seinfeld

Content Marketing gives something of value, whether it’s entertainment or information. Consumers are doing their research online before making their first contact with retailers and sale people. For B2B buyers, 57% have already made their purchase decision before ever speaking to a sales person, according to CEB Global.

The Truth (a/k/a Transparency)

Consumers are fed up with half-truths, lies, and what they perceive as fake news — whether it is fake or just doesn’t align with their political beliefs. Advertisers are fed up with paying for ad campaigns that they don’t know whether they are getting their money’s worth.

This whole transparency thing is a natural fallout when headlines like these continue to surface:

“…one pair of experts discovering that as much as 98 percent of all ad clicks on major advertising platforms such as Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn and Facebook in a seven-day period were executed not by human beings, but by computer-automated programs commonly referred to as “botnets” or “bots.” — Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) Senate Banking Committee in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission

A Return to Premium Publishers

Yes, programmatic ad networks are cheap. But there’s a reason. The waste is staggering. Middlemen take their share, ad blockers are on the rise, and visibility is down. Not to mention the fact that an ad is considered a viewed impression if it’s on the screen for 2 seconds. Oh, wait. 50% of the ad has to be viewable for 2 seconds.

Dr. Augstine Fou looked at 100 million online ads. His conclusion is that only 11.5 cents of every dollar actually put an ad in front of a consumer. That’s a lot of waste. Premium publishers, by comparison, delivered more than 88 cents of every dollar.

Consolidation Continues

It’s been dubbed “Goobook,” the combination of Facebook and Google that hastaken over as the preeminent places for digital ads. Some experts say they take as much as 85 cents of every dollar spent on digital ads.

Digital Advertising is expected to finish 2017 with a year-to-year growth rate of 11.5% and grow again in 2018 by 11.3%. That information comes from GroupM/WPP, the world’s largest buyer of advertising. Magna (IPG Mediabrands) pegs 2018 digital growth at 13%.

Bad News for digital ad sellers: Group M believes Google and Facebook will account for 84% of all digital advertising spend in 2017.

Worse News for digital ad sellers: Group M pegs the growth rate on these two platforms at 186% for 2017.

The two together would account for roughly 111% of total digital growth for the 2017, leaving everyone besides them to split a pie that had shrunk by 11 points.

“In other words, the rest of the online ad industry is evaporating,” said Bob Hoffman in his Ad Contrarian Newsletter. “Absent ‘Goobook,’ online advertising is in free fall and publishers are being forced to play ball with the duopoly or die.”

The Free Ride is Over

When it comes to search, the increase in paid advertising has had a negative impact on organic reach. You can be #1 ranked in organic search and still not be above the fold on desktop.

SOURCE: Google Ad Changes Hurt Organic Search (Merkle study)

On social media, the average amount of engagement brands and publishers are getting with Facebook posts continues to plummet. Publishers reported a 42% decrease of post views in Facebook news feeds in 2016, and another 20% in 2017.

And here are 4 bonus predictions:

  • Although influencer marketing will still attract a fair amount of attention and media spend, the jury is still out on whether it’s working. Claims over lack of attribution and recent changes to YouTube policies have diminished their impact and have advertisers questioning whether they want to be part of it.

Celebrities, athletes, influencers under fire for deceptive social media ads

  • Marketing automation will still be prominent, but be careful. If consumers sniff anything that feels manufactured, packaged, or un-authentic, you will pay the price.
  • There will be more video online in 2017 than ever before. 300 hours of video are uploaded to Youtube every single minute! But going all in on video is a tough road. It’s expensive and difficult. Video has to either be high quality or authentic user stuff to work.
  • Can major websites pivot to video? Before you do, you might want to look at Mashable, Uproxx, Fusion Media, and Defy Media. Or Vice, Mic, or BuzzFeed. All are selling, have been sold, or have seen significant revenue drops after investing heavily in video — especially at a time where there’s an explosion of video and a significant drop in organic video views in social media.

Those are my thoughts. I might be wrong. What do you think? Let’s see how 2018 plays out. Happy New Year.