Digital Trends for 2019

For the past two years, I have been looking into my digital crystal ball and predicting what will be big in the digital world. In 2017 I got 8/10 (I was way off because Twitter didn’t die and still hasn’t) and before I get into the digital trends for 2019, let’s see what happened in 2018 and if it means I can start predicting World Cup finals like that octopus.

Scale: +2 Spot on          +1 Accurate       -1 Somewhat wrong       -2 Not even close

At the beginning of 2018, I predicted that:

Audio is only going to get bigger: Not only will podcasts continue to grow, but with the rise of Amazon Echo and Google Home, so will voice search.  +2  20% of mobile search queries are voice, Amazon Echo was one of the best selling electronics on Amazon, and like 72% of smart speaker owners, I bought a Google Home and have made it part of my daily routine.

Cryptocurrency will continue to disrupt the financial industry: Crypto will continue to be a form of digital gold (investment, trading). +1 Disrupt is a bit of a strong word, but after Bitcoin rose and then tanked, my investment of R550 is now worth R220 on Luno. Consider me disrupted.

Influencer marketing: It will no longer be an add-on, but will rather form a large part of the marketing mix.  +2 The fact that people on Instagram are marking posts as sponsored to seem like influencers prove that it is a big deal.

Quality, authenticity & accountability: It’s about being authentic or real and having conversations. This also means that you need to be held accountable for what you create. +2  Zuck lost $6bn (FB lost $35bn) the day after the Cambridge Analytica news broke. Google also updated its quality rater guidelines to include ways to measure quality and authenticity.

VR & AI: are going to become mainstream. +1 I think this one was like saying when it rains there is water. Both are a big deal and will continue to be so.

For digital trends 2018, I got a solid 8/10. So let’s put the past behind us and go back to the future.

Digital Trends 2019

1. Ears over eyes: Audio and voice will continue to grow

We were talking about unboxing videos and my cousin’s kid, who is six, wanted to show us some. I wondered how he would find these on YouTube as he couldn’t type but then he mentioned the person’s channel and that’s when it hit me – voice search is only going to get bigger.

Also as more people get smart speakers they will become reliant on them. I didn’t know what to do with myself the other morning when the electricity was off and I couldn’t get my morning briefing, listen to my podcasts and music and ask Google to tell me a joke.

Audiobooks and podcasts are also spearheading this trend because they fit in perfectly with our binge culture lifestyle that lets us decide what and when we want to consume content. Plus, there are hardly any ads in podcasts and if there are, the host usually personally endorses them.

2. Influencers who actually influence

We are moving away from vanity metrics like the number of followers and more towards engagement (I tell myself this every year but for some reason, the influencer fairy hasn’t told everyone yet). And if it is about influence, then it is about how many people you influence, which wouldn’t necessarily be related to followers.

And the type of influencers I think will become kind of a big deal are streamers. They already have the audiences as well as the influence, so it is just a matter of time before this becomes more mainstream.

3. AI and machine learning will take our jobs (well kind of)

As AI evolves and becomes much better and faster than humans, some tasks are best left to the bots. And while these bots may replace existing jobs, that just means new jobs for humans will emerge. Here are just a few examples.

  • Recommendations on Netflix (that aren’t perfect yet) but with so much data, the algorithm is improving all the time.
  • Bots can already make calls, like Google’s Duplex which was released in June last year, and most of us wouldn’t know we were talking to a bot!
  • Self-driving cars are only going to get better.
  • Amazon Go is an AI-powered grocery store that doesn’t need humans.
  • Facial recognition software (and Buzzfeed-style memes like The 10 Year Challenge that help bots).
  • Chatbots.

One of my favourite fun facts is that in 2016 Google made one of its AI engines read thousands of romance novels to brush up on its people skills and improve its emotional intelligence. 

4. Feed me stories Seymour: stories instead of the feed

Stories have changed how we consume and share content. Stories are meant to be updated in short bursts throughout the day (document instead of creating), they are visual (mainly rely on the camera), we can view them chronologically, and we have more control over who we interact with and which stories we watch (no autoplay videos here). 400M users interact with Instagram Stories daily!

5. A digital paradox: digital detoxing & using tech more than ever

While more people realise that unplugging from their devices every so often is good for them, they are also using and relying on tech and connected devices more than ever. Think of smart technology, fitness trackers and just how often you use your phone. People are also becoming more concerned about what info apps have you on, just take Cambridge Analytica as an example.

Only time will tell if these do in fact continue to grow and become digital trends this year. So until next year..

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