Trends to look out for in 2019
Posted on 2019 Feb,11

It’s tough enough for brands to keep track of the big emerging tech and innovation trends but 2019 is likely to see an acceleration and expansion of this change. From Blockchain, through to voice, to AI-driven content and social commerce, evolution will be all around us.To help marketers get to grips with this, some of the senior leadership from various offices around the region have shone a spotlight on the big trends to look out for and identified their likely impact on the marketing and PR industry in 2019.


Sasan Saeidi – CEO J. Walter Thompson Gulf

Personalization: Connecting Content & Data. I think more brands and our clients are already doing this, moving towards personalized one to one marketing; connecting data and content.
Artificial Iintelligence (AI): I think brands will continue to bring out emotional connection with physical environments and AI will be the driver of this.
Micro-Influencers: I have never been a fan of influencer marketing as it’s becoming less and less authentic. But micro influencers on the other hand are much more believable; relatable and cost effective. So this focus will rise and it should.
Gen Z: It’s time to focus on Gen Z. They are graduating and becoming employees. They are influential, they seek authenticity and want brands to be socially responsible. They mean business and marketing to this segment is a trend on its own.


Tarek Jaffar, General Manager OMD Egypt

Egypt is a volatile market, with hardcore purchasing habits, diverse media dynamics and one of the highest mobile penetrations in the world. Mobile has dramatically changed habits over the past decade, with lifestyles switching from calling or visiting a store to multitasking and looking to brands to provide solutions for their professional, personal and entertainment needs.
These changing habits make automation and the use of technology the perfect solution for brands meeting demanding client needs. Clients’ main focus in 2019 is to meet the demands of fast paced global trends and also relieve some of the pressure on their bottom line costs. For example, McDonalds has been pushing towards a seamless digitally led delivery process over the past couple of years and is looking to innovate in marketing their apps and delivery process for a seamless omnichannel strategy. This has been done through a specific mobile app for delivery and self-serving kiosks in their brick and mortar stores. Many clients have also jumped on the chat bot wagon relieving some of the pressure off their customer service centers.
The ease and efficiency of online ordering and the chaos of Egypt make ecommerce and epayments another fast-growing trend in 2019. The global rise of ecommerce was 4% in 2018, with Egyptian marketeers pushing to make online ordering more suited to the Egyptian mindset. Brick and mortar will still remain to be the main channel of selling a product, yet e-commerce shows YOY growth in Egypt with many consumers taking their purchasing habits online for certain categories such as electronics. For other categories, they prefer to research online and purchase offline hence, the consumer purchase cycle is in constant evolvement and brands need to pay attention and adapt to the constant change.

Nadim Khoury, Chief Executive Officer, Grey MENA

Video has been increasing in importance for a number of years, but 2019 will see it move to a whole new level.
Cisco has projected that more than 80 per cent of all internet traffic will be video by 2021. In the US, adults are now spending almost six hours a day watching video, according to Nielsen’s. Meanwhile, Facebook, the world’s most important social media company, has set its sights on becoming a video-first company.
In an age of content, video is king. This applies to our region as much as anywhere else. The Jeddah-based Arabic entertainment network UTurn has hired an all-Saudi team to create videos just for Snapchat. MBC is including a vertical camera on set during the production of new dramas, enabling the company to have Snapchat-ready and Instagram-ready versions for when it broadcasts later this year.
Our role in the coming 12 months is not just to be aware of all of this, but to create video content that works. We’ve got to learn to get it right. Because if we don’t, the opportunity to get closer to our audiences will have been lost.
Take Instagram Stories for example. By and large what we see posted on the platform are adaptations of films that were originally built for TV or YouTube, not platform-specific campaigns that make the most of the language of Instagram itself. This is what we have to crack in 2019. If video is the future of the internet, and mobile is the future of personal connectivity, then cracking video on mobile will be a must.

Camille Haddad – CEO J. Walter Thompson KSA and Levant

Cell phone will take over and I will call it Mobilution!! - Mobile Evolution. With the 5G introduction, our mobile will be the main source of interaction.
The 5G Mobilution will redefine a broad range of industries with connected services from retail to education, transportation to entertainment, and everything in between.
The ad industry need to be ready for this evolution, as the small screen will be the ultimate point of exposure!!!

Krikor Khatchikian, Managing Director, Grey Doha

As we progress into another year brimming with tremendous opportunities, we believe that traditional media’s outreach will continue to decline, though may not vanish completely as it conserves a substantial hold in some local markets owing to its wide-spread reach and cultural weight.
New marketing trends come to the surface year by year. Some of them stay to reshape the industry; others fade away pretty quickly.
Businesses started to embrace the power of new technologies in creating brand awareness, as well as in selling products and ideas. Forward-thinking marketing agencies are pushing towards a proactive shift to mobile advertising that would embrace all current leading trends from augmented reality, to voice search, virtual reality, visual search, as well as other digital solutions that play a vital role in revolutionizing the customer’s experience. The mobile advertising market will exceed $200 billion globally next year – as e-marketer statistics show - with apps representing the lion’s share of ad spend.     
Consumers looking for ways to reduce screen time, will witness an increase in mobile audio advertising opportunities and high-quality videos will probably take over the mobile audience…
With new formats emerging and new trends impacting the day-to-day of businesses, the growing advertising industry is expected to invest more in consumers micro-moments, capture consumers instant decisions that are mostly done via smartphones, and provide them with the right need exactly when they request it.


Tariq Al Sharabi, Managing Director of Cicero & Bernay

As 2019 picks up steam, one trend has made itself more than apparent: the elimination of separate disciplines. As a PR agency and industry professionals, our job descriptions are no longer bound by select trades and expertise.

There is a slogan that goes ‘a jack of all trades is a master of none.’ I am tempted to believe that in today’s climate, one must know a bit of everything to stand out and offer clients all-encompassing approaches.

Where once the gravity of a brand was enough to capture the attention and inspiration of customers, today’s world is built around experiences on offer by the brand, and not exclusively by price or aesthetic value. In the pursuit of more tangible experiences, it is on us to expand our horizons and go the distance with our clients to offer them more than what they expect through the strategic utilisation of 360-degree approaches that combine a multitude of criteria under one umbrella. It’s not a PR or advertising agency that are being sought out, but a partner agency that will anticipate the future for the client and perfect its messaging on both digital and traditional mediums. The communication medium is in constant evolution, and as custodians of its platforms and means, it is on us to adapt with the changing trends to not only maintain relevance but to help progress upon the industry.

This is an edited version of the article released in JAN/Feb issue of ArabAd page 22