5 key trends in data to look out for: What every marketer should know going into 2018


2017 is drawing to a close – the year that brought us autonomous cars, the iPhone X, the rise of Amazon Alexa and Echo, YouTube scandals, data hacks and a tidal wave of bitcoin-based hysteria. What will 2018 have in store for the marketing and tech worlds? We tapped Starcount’s best and brightest minds for their predictions…

1. The rise of emotional data (Chris Gartside, Chief Data Scientist)

For too long, science and emotion have been seen as inherently incompatible. In 2018, according to our Chief Data Scientist, that’s finally set to change. A new approach to customer insight is on the rise, powered by ‘humanising data’ that brings customers’ passions and motivations to the forefront.

“At Starcount, we have already proven that passions are predictive of purchase”, says Chris Gartside (CDS). “By embracing emotional data, brands can understand and map customers by what they love, and therefore predict the next likely sale. Emotional data has the power to transform everything from how we forecast trends to the way we approach loyalty.”

2. Innovation in the banking industry (Jonathan Burston, Client Director)

In January 2018, Open Banking will come into effect, forcing the UK’s nine largest banks to share their data with licensed startups (with permission from the account holder). Much has been made of this development, with some financial experts even suggesting that Open Banking might trigger the beginning of the end for some of the industry’s most established players. However, our Client Director, Jonathan Burston, has a more optimistic perspective.

“While the financial industry is not renowned for being forward-thinking or agile, Open Banking is driving innovation across the sector and forcing a shift towards true customer centricity. Those financial services companies that will succeed in 2018 and beyond will be those that focus on deep customer understanding, offering advice, recommendations and services of real value.”

3. The disruption of the duopoly (Toby McAra, Chief Commercial Officer)

While Open Banking is sending ripples through financial services, GDPR is, in the words of our Chief Commercial Officer, “like dropping an atomic bomb on the marketing industry”. This game-changing shift in data protection is due to be enforced from 25th May 2018 but marketers have been panicking about the potential impact of the General Data Protection Regulation since it was first announced in 2015. There are countless ways in which GDPR will affect businesses, but the one that has Toby McAra (CCO) most excited is the potential for a shakeup in the established playing field.

“GDPR is an opportunity for immense change, not just within individual companies but across whole markets. It will disrupt seemingly untouchable digital businesses – Facebook, for example, will need to rethink their entire targeting model to comply with GDPR’s insistence on opt-in consent, while flagship Google products AdWords and Gmail will also be affected. It will be fascinating to see how this plays out in 2018.”

4. The resurgence of traditional media (Clive Humby, Chief Data Scientist)

In potentially disrupting the advertising dominance of Facebook and Google, GDPR could provide a great opportunity for the resurgence of traditional media, states Clive Humby, our Chief Data Scientist. While ease of measurement has led many marketers to prioritise digital in recent years, the arrival of GDPR, alongside the existing PECR (Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations), will narrow the scope of digital targeting, allowing more traditional methods to come back into the limelight – albeit in a more modern guise.

“At Starcount, we have been looking at building GDPR-compliant methods and tools to really understand customers and prospects,” says Humby. “Direct Mail and Door-to-Door share many similarities with programmatic digital channels and, in this era of Big Data, large and exciting new data sources are opening back up, giving major improvement over the old, purely geodemographic models. We believe this will drive traditional direct media back to lower CPA than digital media.”

5. Data becomes a force for positive change (Edwina Dunn, CEO)

Much is made of the downsides of the Big Data revolution: compromised privacy, for example, seen through poorly targeted adverts that follow consumers around the Internet and data hacks that compromise the personal information of millions of people. However, Starcount CEO, Edwina Dunn, believes that there are significant data-driven highs on the horizon.

“When utilised strategically and skilfully, data has the power to transform our society for the better. In healthcare, for example, patients’ clinical information is now helping analysts to diagnose disease and identify genetic patterns behind hereditary diseases such as cystic fibrosis and certain types of cancer. And we have been involved in exploring whether or not long term repetition in grocery purchase is an early stage indicator or predictor of Alzheimer’s.

New perspectives, created from powerful, data sensitive KPI's, can play an increasingly important role in addressing social challenge and injustice. Take Your Life, for example, a campaign to encourage post-16 study of STEM subjects. New Starcount insight, using longitudinal Department for Education data, proves that just a very small increase in the number of students studying STEM, in the 50% of under-performing UK schools, could fill the entire UK skills gap of 33,000 entries, per annum. This insight, played a crucial part in the evidence that persuaded government to invest extra funding in STEM students; £600 additional budget per student for each school, as announced in the Autumn Budget. 

I anticipate many more stories of data driving positive change in 2018, not least surfacing the evidence and impact of active female role models, as pioneered by The Female Lead and the Sunday Times, Style Magazine.”