Two cents blog

2017 in review

by Steve Mair on 22 December 2017

Each year every business, marketing or advertising platform publish their lists of the ‘Things that will change our industry this year’ – some are bang on point, some are wilder than a goose chase in the dark. I’ve grabbed five of the most accurate (in this writer’s humble opinion) and five of the, hmmmm well, better luck next year!

What’s worked this year:


Messenger Bots go mainstream

Boom. This one has been hit out of the park. Bots are the new apps, growing in stark contrast to the app download market. The driver has been the growth of messaging platforms. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber and WeChat have seen their monthly active users (4bn) outstrip the top 4 social networks (3.5bn). 85% of consumers now prefer to engage via messaging apps. Bots solve three of the biggest issues for the modern consumer: information on-demand, fast delivery of information, and access on their terms.

Bots are delivering better engagement too. Studies have shown click-through rates from bots are 5x higher than email. This year we’ve already seen a number of brands in the commerce, customer service and content spaces launch their own bots including the ABC, Starbucks, British Airways and eBay.

Social is increasingly ‘Dark’

Put simply, Dark Social refers to social sharing that can’t be accurately tracked (i.e. the stuff that isn’t picked up by web analytics platforms). This was predicted to leave marketers with an analytics blind-spot and has proven to be the case, in direct correlation with the rise of the encrypted and private messaging platforms. By the time you also add in SMS, email sharing and secure or private web browsing to the mix, almost 70% of all referrals, globally, are from the ‘Dark’ side of the analytics moon.

Hyper Personalisation (and fluid expectations)

Sounds pretty fancy, huh? It’s pretty simple, really. 2017 was predicted to be the year that brands delivered highly tailored experiences to their customers as part of a major customer experience charm. By distributing relevant, contextual and time-sensitive information, this helped marketers to drive brand loyalty and encourage consumers to switch brands.

In a recent study, 83% of marketers that drove revenue growth had allocated personalisation budgets. A report from Accenture confirmed that 75% of consumers are more likely to buy, recommend or pay more for a product or service from a retailer that knows their name and preferences.

Think of it in real life: you are more likely to go to a particular coffee shop of a morning because the owner knows your name and your coffee order without you having to mutter a word.

In 2017 brands were hitting personalisation for 6. Think Netflix, Amazon and Tesla as the leaders of the pack. 2017 also became the year that consumers stopped comparing apples with apples and started comparing apples with oranges.

Stop talking riddles! What is this craziness? I’ll explain.

As consumers, we are conditioned by things we have the most exposure to. Netflix carefully suggests films for me to watch based on my viewing history, time of day, week, year, even my mood. As a consequence the experience ‘bar’ gets set pretty high; I expect everyone to be on the same personalised playing field when they’re not. Well, they are more likely to end up on the cutting room floor…

Video First

Video just goes from strength to strength to strength. It’s predominantly being driven by Facebook – and Mark Zuckerberg specifically – as the CEO continues to make it clear that Facebook, and all of its subsidiaries, are video first platforms. Video will continue to be prioritised algorithmically, ensuring that it’s always at the top of your feeds.

Facebook also went after one of the few remaining bastions still held by Twitter – Live. Facebook threw so much money at their Live offering (both from a media perspective and an innovation angle), the amount was at the level invested in shifting the platform to ‘mobile first’. The most recent evolution was to deliver 4000 360º streaming video!

Interestingly, Cisco predicts that by 2019, 80% of the world’s internet traffic will be – you guessed it – video.

Attribution – Google told me, so it’s true!

Last click attribution just doesn’t cut it anymore. If you don’t believe me, look no further than Google.

At this year’s Masterclasses around the country, there was a fairly sizable chunk of the day dedicated to education around attribution models and why the last click is no longer the best way forward. Last click attribution is a legacy of older technology whereby the only way you could confidently say which channels delivered a conversion was by looking at the last click to the website to attribute it. These days this is no longer the case. Although the ‘last click’ delivered you to the site, how do we attribute the full decision-making process?

It’s tough. Can we correlate a TV ad playing to a Google search for a particular brand? Can we attribute a podcast listen to an intent to purchase? These are all important parts or channels in the path-to-purchase or decision-making process.

The interesting thing about Google saying that last click is dead, is that no-one looks better in a last click model than Google. It’s not in their interest to move people to other more robust measurement models (unless of course they only have their advertisers best interests/results at heart…). The truth is, there is no right answer with attribution, just less wrong ones.

For more info, check out Dave’s blog post from earlier in the year.

What hasn’t worked this year:


Augmented almost Reality

Ok, don’t panic! AR will become one of the most disruptive forces in advertising and marketing, but 2017 was probably just a little too soon.

We’ve toyed with AR in marketing circles for some time, but the lack of viable mobile platforms has left marketers a little unimpressed. While we saw an initial spike in the interest of AR with games like Pokemon Go and videos showcasing the power of AR/Mixed reality from the likes of HoloLens, I’d say, at the end of 2017, we are just at the beginning of the Slope of Enlightenment in the Hype Cycle…

So, why didn’t AR explode onto the scene as expected?

Well, both Apple and Google made it to the party towards the middle of 2017, with the ARkit and ARCore respectively. Both companies ARE charging headfirst into AR and are banking on it becoming the new mobile gold rush. Apple embedded ARkit into iOS11, which was released towards the end of the year, enabling millions of devices worldwide to be AR-ready. However, only Apple devices with the latest A9 or A10 processors, effectively iPhone 7’s and above will be able to use the built-in ARkit. Apple drew the line here for closely guarded ‘performance’ reasons. This suggests that next year could be the year of AR. As more consumers have access to newer AR-enabled phones, brands will see the importance of delivering these type of experiences.

A brand that did begin experimenting in 2017 was IKEA, with IKEA Place. Available on the App Store, IKEA Place lets you virtually ‘place’ furnishings in your space. From sofas and lamps to rugs and tables, all of the products in IKEA Place are 3D and true to scale so you can make sure it’s just the right size, design and functionality for your room.

Check it out HERE if you have an iPhone 7 or above.

Let’s hope Santa is bringing me an iPhone X for Christmas…


The perennial problem child. A tech darling, loved by the kids but still struggling to monetise it’s offering without seeming like a ‘sell-out’.

The introduction of its self-serve platform has opened up Snap to the masses, however, it still remains a walled garden compared to the established players like Facebook etc. Ultimately, it’s lack of measurability and accountability is something that has held it back compared to where people might have expected it to be by this time in 2017.

To make matters worse for Snapchat, a number of its direct competitors are copying or ‘re-imagining’ their features. “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” – unless you are in competition with Facebook. Instagram rolled out its own version of Stories. In many opinions, the Instagram version has improved on the Snapchat offering with a focus on profit over cool-factor. Insta’s version was easier to use, more intuitive and more brand-friendly. As a result, Stories alone is now being used by more people than the whole of the Snapchat app.

Your move Snapchat.

Internet of Things (IOT)

Should your fridge tell you when you are low on eggs? Should the aircon ask you if you’d like it switched on because it’s 42º outside?

Everyday objects connected to the internet that help enrich, simplify or add value to our lives are for this nerd, the holy grail! But like AR, it’s still coming, especially for the everyday consumer.

For marketers, connected devices will give our brands the chance to integrate into the everyday lives of consumers. 2017 saw the first consumer-centric pieces of the puzzle coming together, with voice-activated assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home gaining traction. I’m fairly sure a Google Home product is on a fair few Christmas lists here at the agency. The problem is the smart home isn’t quite there yet. Yes, there are early adopters with products like Nest (Thermostat) and Phillips Hue (lights), but we are some way from mass adoption.

However, let me contradict myself for a moment. 2017 did see a surge in uptake of connected devices at Enterprise level. From mining to utilities, logistics, agriculture, retail and logistics, big business is obsessed with data. Optimising processes, tracking physical assets, predicting maintenance, managing resources all impact the bottom line. Robots are sometimes put to work – autonomous trucks at RioTinto, an Australian mining giant, has already driven over 4 million kilometres; while service robots are entering hotels, supermarkets, and expanding to ground deliveries. In agriculture, advanced sensors help to optimize the use of water and fertilizer, avoid spoilage of crops and improve the selective breeding of animals. Watch this trend closely, because it’s going to boom!

When Influencers go wrong…

This time last year, influencers were being hyped as ‘the new advertising’, forming part of an overall content strategy that would save the industry from ad-blockers. Micro-influencer. Middle-influencer. Brand ambassador. Brand advocate. Buzzwords aside, these branding models are all driven by the currency of social capital and they continue to reach a growing audience. Everyone was getting on the bandwagon. The numbers don’t lie, 2017 has been the year of the influencer. Some brands, however, are hitching themselves to the wagon, without a solid strategic reason to do so.

Pepsi. Kendall Jenner. Anyone?

A massive misstep by the soda brand. In any climate, an ad that references black anti-police-violence protesters and Vietnam war protesters would be seen as insensitive, but recent incidents in the US made it an even stranger choice for Pepsi. Throw in white supermodel Kendall Jenner dispensing Cola to defuse tensions and you’ve got a PR cluster-fuck. Pepsi apologised, but the damage was done.

Today’s audiences demand authenticity from a brand and influencers can deliver. While Pepsi were banking on Jenner’s star power and social influence to spread their message, they got the message so, so wrong and only earned themselves an #epicfail.

Facebook Canvas

It just died, didn’t it? R.I.P Canvas.


Steve Mair is BCM’s Digital Creative Director

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