Kamal Amesur, Executive Creative Director, Hungama Digtal Services

Digital, today, is growing at a rapid pace not only in India but throughout the world as well. The number of Internet users in India is expected to reach 730 million by 2020, supported by fast adoption of digital technology, according to a report by NASSCOM. In the Union Budget 2017–2018, the Government of India has allocated Rs 10,000 crore for the BharatNet project under which it aims to provide high-speed broadband to more than 150,000 gram panchayats by 2017–2018. Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) app, an Aadhaar-based mobile payment application that allows users to make digital payments without having to use a credit or debit card has already reached the mark of 10 million downloads and is rapidly growing. The Government of India is planning to set Wi-Fi facilities for around 5.5 lakh villages by March 2019 with an estimated investment of Rs 3700 crore and the government expects to start broadband services with about 1000 megabits per second (1 gbps) across 1 lakh gram panchayats by the end of this year. These numbers show a big promise of digital growth across India and what more can one ask for. Digital transformation is a topic that will dominate business strategy in 2018 and, this is the day I was waiting for.

With digital tech on the rise to global acceptance the scope for brands to engage and interact with their target groups has no boundaries. We already see advertising budgets slipping from traditional to digital. A massive jump in user engagement on social media, steep rise of Internet, and mobile penetration across the nation has given a clear signal that digital presence is not only necessary but is a must for all businesses wanting to grow in this new era. This era has also given birth to a new consumer who continuously re-evaluates experiences and reassesses loyalties thus making it tough for agencies to market. Agencies will now have to find agile leaders, stay up to date by adding new skill sets to their repertoire of talent to keep pace with this consumer, and get aggressive enough to preserve market share and market standing.

2018 will see the growth of ephemeral content. With apps like Snap Chat crossing 10 billion daily video views, Instagram stories growing in popularity by the day, these are platforms clearly not be ignored. It is the best way to reach younger millennials. Interactive broadcasting will be the next big thing where a one-way livestreaming will get converted into a two-way one allowing people to interact with each other. Dark social will be on the rise as less monitored channels like WhatsApp, FB Messenger, WeChat, have a very high social engagement reach. These platforms have already gained serious momentum and would be in the radar of media planners in the coming year. We have seen a surge in voice-controlled personal assistants. Businesses will consider this far more in their SEO strategies going ahead. Chatbots ver2 equipped with the ability to improve their efforts from continual learning algorithms would be a way to go for B2B2C marketing success. Augmented reality will bring about interactive advertising and influencer marketing on social media will only get better as brands are looking at earning every moment of contact by being meaningful, relevant, and authentic to their consumer.

However, speed and agility both at the client and agency end would be the key to success. As brand custodians’ agencies would need to establish a more profound connection of brands with their audience moving the focus from share of market to share of life. Just as the way we consume things is changing, so must the way we market them. 2018 will present more opportunities than ever for brands and businesses that utilize the above trends to their advantage.

Be ready, be open to new ideas, think multichannel, and be adaptive and agile, this should be your success mantra for 2018.