Trends for 2018 - The independents’ time to shine


With 2018 well and truly underway already, we’re seeing a few new trends start to emerge, along with the ones we’ve seen coming from a mile away. This year is shaping up to be another massive one for independent agencies in the media world, and these trends are being driven by this new wave of forward-thinking players in the market.



As the impact of big data continues to make waves, its presence is being felt massively in traditionally linear channels. The programmatic buying and selling of media in TV, Radio and Outdoor is increasing every week. At the recent Programmatic Summit, Mark Frain, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at MCN mentioned that 20% of Foxtel’s $500 million advertising business is already traded programmatically.   

This is great news for advertisers. Addressable TV provides the opportunity to segment on a household level. Programmatic radio allows individual targeting and out-of-home campaigns can now be targeted to the locations generating the most social activity for brands (just ask Guinness). And what does it all mean? Well firstly, the days of ‘spray and pray’ advertising on linear channels are drawing to a close. Second, better ROI. Third, more effective campaigns. And across it all, greater relevance for consumers and for marketers more precise reporting capabilities that will allow brands to easily understand whether their content is hitting the mark or not.



Jason Dooris’ recent departure from Atomic 212 over false award submissions. Dentsu’s 2016 over-billing scandal. Questions around the accuracy of Nielsen’s Facebook data. The media world has abounded with issues of transparency that have pulled the credibility of a number of organisations into question. The 2016 media rebates scandal (more on that later) even prompted the Association of National Advertisers in the US to release a set of media transparency guidelines.

We get it. In the big end of the media buying landscape there are a huge number of conflicting agendas, viewpoints and budgets. It’s just the nature of the game. But as the issues seemed to reach fever pitch last year, this year will definitely be a year of consolidation as agencies and publishers seek to rebuild confidence in the sector.


The diversity conversation in our industry will only gather more steam this year, and it’s about time. We can’t hide behind the argument that the best candidate should be hired regardless of gender, age or race because advertising needs to be about diversity – diverse lifestyles, opinions, races, ages and backgrounds in order to create the most successful TEAMS who use their diversity to create bold and unique ideas for clients. You just have to read some of the harrowing tales from women in the industry to know that the process of identifying and fixing this problem still has a long way to go.

But with more women speaking up and predatory behaviour in the workplace being called out, we’re expecting to see some improvements in diversity across the industry.

AI + Voice

Cloud-based AI was ranked fourth by MIT in a list of most important technologies for 2018. The tech is ready and the data is there - this is the year that AI truly goes mainstream. The shift in digital consumer behaviour that comes with things like suggested purchases is something that brands have been contemplating for a while now. But what happens when voice is thrown into that mix?


Phrases like “OK Google” or “Hey Siri” are now a recognised part of the lexicon and voice is becoming a key interface between consumers and their devices. So how do brands remarket themselves when vision is no longer a part of the mix? What does Nike sound like? Is Coke a man or a woman? With 50% of all search traffic expected to be by voice in 2020, this represents a huge opportunity for brand-building - one that needs to be capitalised upon now.


The rise of the indy.

Those transparency issues we talked about earlier? They’re almost exclusively the domain of large agencies. The multinationals, the incumbents, the “we know the industry because we’ve been in the business for a hundred years” crowd. The entrenched mindset that believes the industry is still stuck in the 80s.

The 2016 investigation into rebates and agency contracts in the US was felt globally, and this trust has still not been repaired. WARC’s 2018 toolkit report found that there is still substantial distrust between agencies and clients - with more than 50% on both sides agreeing that there is a problem.

Clients are tired of it. They are looking for a fresh approach that combines precision and agility with speed and responsiveness - and for this they are turning to independents - the new guard on the rise.


That’s a common theme across all these trends - clients are looking for modern solutions to old media problems. A fresh, energetic and un-traditional approach that takes full advantage of the burgeoning opportunities in the digital space. 2018 will undoubtedly be the year of the indies and we’re looking forward to seeing what’s in store!