CA’s Predictions for 2018

Across Cambridge Analytica, we aren’t just working at the forefront of fields like data analytics, behavioral science, and digital marketing; we’re driving them forward. With 2018 rapidly approaching, we’re expecting exciting new changes that will make an impact across the entire advertising spectrum — for brands, agencies, marketers and consumers. 


We surveyed our senior leadership and thinkers to find out what’s next. Here are each of their top predictions for 2018:


Patrick Fagan, Marketing Psychologist

Beyond Surveys and Focus Groups. Many brands are waking up to the limits of traditional market research for two reasons: 1) explicitly asking people what they think or what they would do (e.g. in a survey or focus group) can sometimes be a poor predictor of real thoughts and behaviors because of the divide between the conscious and nonconscious minds; and 2) new methods of nonconscious data collection and passive behavioral data collection are increasingly available. Market research is increasingly looking for new methods to get beneath what people "think they think" and find out what they actually think.

Emerging Trends Move Into the Spotlight. Brands are increasingly seeking new and truly effective means of understanding and driving consumers. Biometrics, nudging, and marketing science are just a few examples likely to take off in 2018.

Biometrics, and technologies like it, can measure heartbeats, eye movement, and in the case of the iPhone X, a person’s emotions based on their facial expression. Together, this kind of data can be used to measure true emotional responses to ads, products, experiences, and so on.

Nudging is the idea of using psychological shortcuts many people form in decision making to direct their behavior, such as McDonald's putting targets on their bins, to 'nudge' people to throw away their rubbish. It’s already been applied in everything from healthcare policy to restaurant menus to grocery stores.

Marketing science understands consumers from a statistical viewpoint. It has suggested that consumers are generally lazy and irrational and don't care about brands — and as such, the key to growth is availability (being memorable and easy to buy), rather than traditional tactics. Expect brands to be increasingly focused on gaining mindshare and improving distribution in 2018.

Overall, brands will increasingly strive for an intelligent understanding of consumer psychology, emotion and automaticity.

man using phone



Molly Schweickert, Global Head of Digital Marketing

Continued Questioning. The famous digital marketing cuts of 2017 that left many digital professionals questioning their purpose in life have not appeared to make a significant impact on the overall amount of budget being allocated to the industry; however the environment of questioning and accountability will continue (and frankly I couldn't be happier). It's about how much growth you produce, not how much money you spend.

Duopoly Challengers. Aspiring challengers will continue to appear on the scene as sure as there will be sponsored yachts at Cannes Lions. Problem is, they will not get significant ad dollars until they prove their products are as effective and easy to use as Facebook and Google.


Ed DeNicola, Head of TV

TV Advertising. With the exception of direct response, TV advertising has always been more of a top-of-funnel awareness and branding solution than a lower-funnel sales tool. This will change in 2018 as new ad tech makes TV more actionable as a mechanism for selling products.

Streamlining Data and TV Activation. It’s very easy to combine data with digital advertising by using established links between digital data management platforms (DMPs) and demand-side platforms (DSPs). It’s not as easy to do this with TV advertising. Two companies — Samba TV and Nielsen — launched TV-specific DMPs in 2017. Another company, Lotame, launched one towards the end of 2016. At least one other US company will announce the launch of a TV DMP in 2018, further enabling the march of data-driven TV advertising.

two women watching tv



Alex Tayler, Chief Data Officer

Data Decentralisation. A powerful new piece of legislation will come into effect in Europe in May, and with it comes a host of new rights for individuals and responsibilities for data processors and controllers. In particular, the right to erasure and data portability granted to individuals under the applied GDPR will enable people to take ownership of their data and control who is able to access it and how it is used.

Blockchain-Based Data Management. As blockchain technology matures, this peer-to-peer data ledger will be used to house data from sources as varied as the land registry to social media. On the back of this platform, software services will spring up to allow people to manage and monetize their personal data.


Stephen Wilkinson, Data Compliance Officer

Worldwide Data Protection Laws. Regulations around data and its use are increasing. In the UK, the applied General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will take effect on 25th May 2018. It updates data regulations from the 90s and will overhaul how businesses use and collect data in the UK. On top of that regulation, the Revised Data Protection Act 2017 will implement additional requirements, not identified within the “applied GDPR”, and places additional burdens on those who control or process data. Each of these regulations come with fines and penalties, if not followed.

The applied GDPR is the UK’s version of the EU’s General Data Protection Law. Each EU country now has created their own applied GDPR which results in many variations to the EU’s version. Many non-EU countries are also modelling their own data protection laws on that of the GDPR, such as China and Turkey. This trend of Data Protection Law revision will continue through 2018, which will mean constant reviews of applicable legislation.




Mihajlo Popescu, Head of Research

Marketing Research. In the year ahead of us, the theme of survey data quality will gain momentum. In particular, panels will be heavily scrutinized and market research companies will intensively seek out alternative ways to recruit survey respondents, such as through river sampling approaches and monetization platforms. Those who do decide to stay with panel providers will need to take all possible measures to prevent issues like satisficing, cheating and bot responding, which can degrade the quality of a survey. Ultimately, the quality of decisions will always be limited by the data we use to make these decisions.


Cambridge Analytica in the New Year

As we move into 2018, we are poised to take an industry-leading role for brands both in terms of data-driven innovation and compliance regulations to come. We measurably improve a brand’s marketing effectiveness by influencing consumer behavior. We also greatly value the privacy and integrity of our data, both respecting and protecting it on behalf of brands and consumers.

To learn better how we can help you, please call +1 (646) 892 - 9591 for New York or +44 (0)20 3828 7529 for London.