Here are five of the agency’s top 18 media and marketing trends for 2018, and we will roll out the rest over the next week:
1. Expect to hear about “the retailpocalypse” as a key consumer sector tries to fight Amazonification. Consumers love to shop online for the low prices, unlimited selection, and fast, free delivery (if they have Amazon Prime or specials). But traditional grocers and retailers (including Wal-Mart, which recently dropped “Stores” from its name to boost its e-commerce cred) have to find new ways to compete. A retailpocalypse could cause far-reaching ripples into: real estate (there are more than 1,000 malls); advertising (a downturn in retailers’ ad buying would also impact media’s budgets); and employment (the sector lost 51,000 jobs in 2017).
2. People will be more anxious and angry. The ‘60s may have been the Age of Aquarius but this decade seems to be the Age of Anxiety and Anger. One cause: screen addiction. Constantly clicking our smartphones for the latest news – and it seems that there’s continually breaking news – may help us feel we’re on top of the situation but it leaves most of us feeling more empty, worried and angry than before – despite political preferences. We anticipate more coverage on stress, anxiety, mental health and ways to de-stress, which includes taking a break from your device – aka a technology cleanse or digital detox – which is healthy and a good idea but may seem impossible to do.
3. There will be a debate about whether or not and how to regulate Facebook, Google and Twitter. The concern is about the power of their algorithms to determine what we see, especially regarding political ads and the veracity of the news delivered to each of us. The three major platforms have not disclosed specifics but have committed to working to increase transparency and prevent completely false and irresponsible content from being perceived as real news. The underlying questions are: "Has big tech gotten too powerful?" and "Can the major players truly clamp down on the false narratives spread on their platform?" and "How can Congress find a way to regulate them to prevent it from happening in the future?" Expect Congress to continue to hold hearings on the subject – just don’t expect any agreement on the answers before 2018’s midterm elections. (Net neutrality, another issue that also involves big tech, will be an additional source of debate and contention.)
4. The labor shortage and the gig economy will spark think-pieces about the nature of work. The media will examine the nature of work in the age of a gig economy, including whether it’s a temporary arrangement until a full-time job comes along or a side-gig to supplement primary salaries. Also look for articles about rethinking the social safety net and the future of unions for gig workers who may not get minimum wage, unemployment benefits, employer-contributions for workers’ comp, social security and Medicare, among other benefits.
5. Conversations about gender, sexuality and sexual harassment have changed – at least in the media. We’re in the midst of a necessary and significant societal change, and hope that the conversation will deter sexual harassment, and cause toxic cultures to reform, whether in the office or elsewhere. While a post-Weinstein mentality has certainly affected the media and entertainment worlds, we will know if there are long-term changes if men in other fields, like banking (not just VCs) and politicians (not yet named), are resign or are forced out of their positions. Meanwhile, gender and sexuality issues will continue to generate coverage, whether about bathrooms, pronouns or other ways to be inclusive.
The complete list, containing more than a dozen additional predictions, touching on the changing media landscape, bitcoin, smart-home tech, and the future of unicorns, will be rolled out on PRBackTalk.
In the meantime, let us know if you think we were right, somewhat right, kind of wrong or totally missed it.
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