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ModSquad’s 2018 Digital Predictions — How’d We Do?

At the passing of each year, we here at ModSquad like to take a moment to review our predictions for the digital space, which we made 12 months earlier. With 2018 in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to look back at our forecast and explore which of our prognostications came to pass.

1. Voice Search Becomes Commonplace

With one in six Americans owning a smart speaker and 41% of adults now using voice search daily (expected to rise to 50% by next year), it’s clear that this technology is here to stay. As marketers salivate over the Millennial generation, they’ll be taking advantage of the fact that 39.3% of that group will be using voice-enabled digital assistants by next year. Voice commerce sales hit $1.8 million in 2017, but are projected to grow to $40 billion by 2022. With that much money to be made, it’s a slam dunk that voice search technology will not be going away.

2. We’ll Need to Be Smarter About Smart Devices

We’ve all seen the stories from 2018 that should give us pause about how we’re using our smart devices: the Portland, Oregon woman whose private conversations were secretly recorded by her device, and a similar smart tool that just creepily started laughing. And don’t forget the baby monitors that were hacked. But the proliferation of smart devices (and their related privacy issues) has brought with it a new and unsettling feeling of unease among consumers. As you modernize your home and your life, take the proper precautions.

3. Cash Will No Longer Be King

Slowly but surely, the world is moving away from cash. In 2018, Apple Pay expanded its supported countries to include Brazil, Ukraine, Poland, Norway, Kazakhstan, Belgium, and Germany (most major countries were already supported at the time of our original article). Investment house UBS confirms that the proliferation of mobile-device payments is challenging cash’s dominance. But with the rollercoaster performance of digital currencies and the accompanying technical risks, we need to heed the warning signs — as countries like Sweden, where cash comprises just 1% of its GDP, are well aware. There’s a lot of work to be done to ensure the safety of our currency systems as nations make the shift to cashless societies.

4. Augmented Reality is the New Reality

Augmented reality (AR) hasn’t quite knocked the socks off the consumer and tech industries to the extent that we expected (shades of VR, to be honest), but it’s far too soon to write it off. One of the big drivers of the burgeoning tech, the Harry Potter: Wizards Unite game, was delayed until this year. But major brands are expanding their AR arsenal, from Riot Games using an AR performance to promote new game skins to L’Oreal acquiring an AR firm with the intention to promote their products and services. With tools like Apple’s ARKit available for developers, we’re likely to see expanded usage of AR, moving beyond games and commerce and into scenarios like enterprise employee training programs.

5. In the Social Age, No More Bland Brands

As huge fans of many innovative brands, we’re always pushing for companies to offer content that best illustrates their brand’s voice and values. Not only does it help them stand out from the crowd, it can sometimes result in some good, free press (FTW!). A few recent examples:

  • #AirportTwitter’s endearing series of seasonally humorous tweets from air-transportation hubs reveal the humanity behind the hashtag. Whenever threads like this blow up, the many comments about how entertained people are underscore the connection these entities are making with their customer bases.
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium is Twitter gold; the way they use hot memes to share educational content is laudatory. There’s nothing r/fellowkids about it because they’re so well done.
  • The Arby’s restaurant chain is a great example of a brand carving out a unique a place for themselves. Wendy’s and its Twitter personality is no longer the hot new thing, so Arby’s has taken the fast food social spotlight with their food/papercraft art. Their most recent campaign is an ongoing #MakeMySandwich, where Arby’s turns fans’/brands’ Twitter avatars into art.

At ModSquad, we’re always striving to keep our finger on the pulse of new technologies and offerings in service to our clients and their customers. As such, the soothsayers among us are busy at work exploring the digital trends that we see shaping the 2019 landscape. Keep an eye on the ModSquad blog for this year’s predictions, coming next week.

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