This week, Ogilvy UK Planning Partner, James Whatley presented Ogilvy’s annual Key Digital Trends Report in the amphitheatre here at Sea Containers.

The report outlines five key digital trends to watch: augmented reality, voice and image search, the changes in influencer marketing, the Amazon awakening and the internet getting serious (data security, GDPR, cyber attacks).

Here’s a closer look at these trends with James. For a full and in-depth exploration of each trend, take a look at the full report here.


Augmented Reality is going to get real this year”

The first digital trend for the year has been a slow burner so far. Augmented reality.

“AR is going to get real this year” says James. “This is because it adopts a habit we already have – looking at our smartphones. The user behavior already exists, which differentiates it from other tech such as VR for example”.

What’s more, technology acceptance from consumers, for example the mass use of Facebook Messenger, means new apps or markers don’t need to be created in order to support AR. The tech is already baked into apps on consumers’ phones.

But what does this mean for marketers? James urges marketers to “talk to your tech teams, your designers, your creative tech department. Experiment with AR. And keep in mind the business or user problem you’re trying to solve.”


“Voice assistants are exploding”

Search is moving towards voice. According to ComScore, 50% of searches will be done by voice by 2020. Meanwhile, Google says that 20% of searches in the U.S. on Android devices are done by voice.

James explains the second trend: “voice assistants are exploding and more and more people are using them. And what’s more, those users think it’s cool.”

It’s not just voice searches but also image searches that are on the rise. This will affect how information and content are developed and delivered. A whole new generation of UX design is born!


“Influencer marketing is hot again”

The rise of YouTube and Instagram – as well as the newly announced Facebook algorithm changes - has put Influencer Marketing back on the page of the marketer’s digital playbook.

“Real co-creation with influencers can bring big benefits and deliver huge reach, often to audiences that are otherwise hard for brands to access”, says James. “But if you just throw money at influencers you won’t get the right results and risk putting the whole opportunity at risk.”

Influencer marketing only woks when the communications are authentic. The problem arises when influencers are offered a heap of money to pimp the latest product. The communication loses its credibility and audiences deplete. The same use of influencers over time can affect the credibility of all influencers and the medium as a whole.

So, a word on influencer best practice from James – “protect authenticity at all costs. And co-create, don’t instruct.”


“Amazon will be the most important emerging platform for digital advertising in 2018”

If you’re new to this, head to and read up. Fast.

Speaking at MWC 2017, Sir Martin Sorrell said: “The gap between Google and Facebook in terms of numbers has lessened, but Google is still of paramount importance. The threat to Google, which I discussed [with them] yesterday in San Francisco, is Amazon.”

It’s not just about product pages. James states “it’s about thinking of Amazon as a useful platform for advertising in every part of the sales tunnel.” Stay close to this one, it’s a grower…


“The internet is about to get serious”

The final trend that James spoke about relates to issues about security online. There are potential problems with numerous elements including trolling, hacking, attacks on privacy and many more. For marketers the story is ad fraud.

And the government is getting more hands-on as the EU’s latest attempt to regulate the handling of consumer data launches this year. “The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is going to be huge and it’s coming very soon” says James. “GDPR promises to bring the biggest change to marketing practices, especially digital marketing, in a very long time. The requirements are detailed and specific, and the penalties could be extreme.”

The devil is in the detail with GDPR as the challenges are in the subtle areas that we don’t think about, such as the way we handle CVs. But it’s not all bad. Matt Holt, Ogilvy UK’s Customer Experience Manager advises using GDPR as a means to get on the front foot with your customers: “The smart brands will be the ones that embrace and instigate this conversation and do it well. If they do this then the future of marketing and customer experience is exciting, plural, individualized and empathetic.”


To read the full Ogilvy Key Digital Trends Report 2018 click here