A Look Ahead: 2018 Retail and Ad Tech Predictions

December 7, 2017  | By Catherine Seeds

At Ketner Group, we live and breathe retail, grocery, consumer and ad tech day in and day out. It’s what we love to do, and, more importantly, why our clients hire us! It is literally our job to stay “in the know” on what the latest trends are in those industries and use those hooks to create media coverage-worthy storylines for each of our clients.

This year has certainly seen plenty of breaking news stories (shocker, mostly about Amazon), trends that didn’t and did surprise us (chatbots will rule the world and digital platforms need to step up their game when it comes to brand safety), and enough shopping data to last us a lifetime (thank you Retail Systems Research and IHL Group!). Oh, and don’t forget the so-called “Retail Apocalypse” that dominated headlines.

As we begin to close out 2017, we look ahead to what lies in store for 2018. The Ketner Group team will be heading the NRF Big Show next month to get a first-hand look at the latest and greatest technology solutions and store implementations of that tech. We will hopefully, start to pinpoint the answers to things like “What will Amazon and Walmart do next?” and “When will Sears just die already?!”

There are plenty of predictions on 2018 trends, but we wanted to showcase just a few retail and ad tech trends.

Three Trends in Retail
According to Christopher Walton, an independent consultant and former VP of Target Store of the Future:

  • Amazon will announce H2Q location, and America will be happy. “Bet on Bezos locating HQ2 somewhere between Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina and Atlanta (both are less than a day’s drive from Bentonville, AK) or within the Midwestern Triangle of Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Chicago”
  • Pop-up retail will be hot, but it won’t solve everything. “It will all make sense until the underlying business economics of retail change (i.e. until technology fuels more productivity gains and utilizes working capita differently). The same problem that plagues retail — namely traffic — will plague pop-up shops too. Bonobos was the first penguin in the water with their guideshop concept, and they had to bail out and sell to Walmart. The pop-up concept is not different enough. It is just another side of the same coin.”
  • The narrative will move from apocalypse to reformation. “Apocalypse is a silly word. It means complete destruction. People will always need to buy stuff.

Therefore, retail and physical stores will never go away. They will just look different.

The retail stores of the future are in front of us already. They will be one-part Amazon, one-part Starbucks, one-part Bonobos and one-part Ikea, shrouded in the customer-focused ethos of a casino.”

Three Trends in Ad Tech
According to Kevin O’Reilly, CTO of TVSquared and Ketner Group client:

  • “TV is Dead” will be put to rest in 2018. “Yes, TV is changing – people consume media differently, via different channels, devices and times. While the total amount of TV viewing time has dropped in the last few years, TV is not dead … not even close. We hope that 2018 will see the end of this fearmongering and bring along realistic, fact-based TV talk.”
  • Brand Safety Means Reinvesting in TV. “Until digital assumes the responsibility and cost of brand safety – providing advertisers with more control, visibility and the assurance that they are being positioned appropriately – expect to see more and more brands come back to or increase investments in TV.”
  • New KPIs for TV. “The way in which advertisers measure TV will change significantly next year. We’re not going as far as to say measuring TV via ratings is dead, but advertisers are realizing that they can’t just rely on reach and frequency metrics. They are antiquated ways to gauge TV success. While things such as GRP, CPM and ratings certainly have a role to play in brand awareness, they don’t tell advertisers how spots drove response in the real world. In 2018, advertisers will increasingly measure TV through brand-specific, performance-based KPIs.”

If you ask anyone at Ketner Group, 2018 is poised to be a great year. Not only for the industries we serve, but for our agency as well. Stay tuned for some exciting announcements from Ketner Group in the next few months!