by MarkLives (@marklives) What are the expectations for the marketing and advertising industry in 2018? We emailed a panel of key industry executives for their take on the macro environment, budgets, changes in messaging, movement in the industry and any consumer and communication trends they’ll be looking out for. First up is Joshin Raghubar of iKineo.

Joshin Raghubar

Joshin RaghubarJoshin Raghubar (@Joshin) is an entrepreneur in the media, marketing and technology sectors. He is CEO of iKineo Ventures and chair of the Cape Innovation & Technology Initiative, and a fellow of the Africa Leadership Initiative, Aspen Institute’s Global Leaders Network and Yale Greenberg World.

There will be an uneasy tension between accelerating digital business transformation, with its associated need for investment and calculated risk-taking, and the uncertain political environment in South Africa. This means that, in 2018, we should see the continued acceleration of two important trends: the closer integration or even merging of customer marketing into an end-to-end customer experience (CX) responsibility; and the increasing focus on marketing effectiveness and measurable performance.

The focus on customer experience means that marketing continues to evolve from a campaign-dominant activity to a service (and content) design-led activity. In this new world, where the power has shifted from companies to customers, marketers and their agencies will feel the pressure to become service and product designers, strategy consultants, data scientists, user experience specialists, intangible product owners, storytellers, publishers and customer community managers.

Shrunk to one click

The space between a brand experience in the media and an actual user experience has shrunk to one click. In 2018, companies and their service providers will have to develop and integrate credible capabilities throughout this experience value chain, with an expanding requirement for connected offerings across design, development, marketing, content and commerce.

The economy and associated budgets are set to be constrained again in 2018 and measurable marketing effectiveness will be a focus. Attention and budgets should increasingly flow to performance marketing capabilities and strategies.

Performance marketing generally refers to online marketing and advertising programmes in which advertisers and their marketing service providers are paid when a specific action or conversion is completed, such as a sale, lead or click. Programmatic marketing will continue to grow as the best way to execute online performance advertising.


The alignment of data science and marketing-sales execution will expand performance marketing beyond online and social, through to direct and offline channels. Campaigns and programmes will have to clearly demonstrate a measurable contribution to growth. Simply put, the marketing and sales functions are going to get much closer.

2018 will see the need to develop the capabilities and partners to apply the science behind this growth. This means the advertising industry should see increasing competition from the traditional consulting firms, new data science firms, and even technology services firms.

As we have already begun to see, consulting firms and other non-traditional firms with established business leadership brands, which already had some of these competencies, have been more able to respond to these new opportunities quickly, and have been able to move into the adjacent communications market by adding the necessary creative and innovation skills. Over an 18-month period in 2015 and 2016, Accenture acquired 40 marketing firms. This trend will continue in 2018.


We will also see the global trend of in-sourcing play out more in South Africa. As leading companies embed end-to-end customer experience as a core competency, they will gradually develop in-house teams in design, development, marketing, content and commerce. Companies will follow the lead of global leaders such as Lego, Apple, the Dollar-Shave Club and others which have made content development, storytelling and omnichannel publishing a core internal competency. They may begin to work with specialist service providers on a project basis, or this will see the rise of more-integrated client and growth partner teams. In either scenario, these growth partner firms will increasingly be prepared and structured to be paid on performance only.

2018 is going to be a positively disruptive year for the marketing industry once again as the science and art of marketing draw closer.

#BigQ2018 series

See also


MarkLives logoLaunched in 2016, “The Big Q” is a regular column on MarkLives in which we ask key advertising and marketing industry execs for their thoughts on relevant issues facing the industry. If you’d like to be part of our pool of panellists, please contact editor Herman Manson via email (2mark at marklives dot com) or Twitter (@marklives). Suggestions for questions are also welcomed.

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