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The Biggest Media and Entertainment Trends to Watch in 2019

For every brand in media and entertainment looking to strike a chord with today’s consumers, it’s essential to have up-to-date knowledge of the trends that are having the biggest impact.

Entertainment trends in particular are in constant flux, with new platforms, mediums and features changing the way we consume content.

2018 saw the rise of sports viewing on new devices and platforms, and social media continued to evolve into an entertainment hub.

In 2019, we’ll see trends such as the continued reign of Netflix in the video streaming space, even greater popularity of esports, and wider VPN usage. Here’s what you need to know.

Netflix is now the top video streaming service globally.

The streaming giant is now topping the charts in all regions excluding China.

However, the gap between the number of users watching a service and those actually paying for one remains a significant challenge.

47% of Amazon Prime Video users and 61% of Netflix users admit to sharing their accounts with friends and family.

With Netflix set to test a mobile-only, cheaper subscription – specifically targeting mobile users in Malaysia – it’s clear to see the brand is not relying solely on past success.

According to its Director of Product Innovation, 60% of global Netflix users open the mobile app at least once a month, which makes mobile devices a natural environment to invest in.

Gaming on any device is now mainstream.

Gaming is becoming an increasingly crucial part of the entertainment industry. It’s now unquestionably mainstream.

86% say they’ve gamed on at least one device in the past month.

As gaming has become more diverse and casual, it’s less dependent on dedicated hardware, which was has hurt the console market.

The smartphone is the clear winner in the gaming device industry, with 66% using it to play games. This is boosted by almost universal smartphone ownership at a global level.

In contrast, only 23% use a console for gaming. Nevertheless, the decline in gaming console usage has slowed down. This is chiefly due to their rebranding from single-purpose gaming devices to multimedia entertainment hubs.

VPN use is on the rise.

22% of 16-24-year-olds use VPNs to find entertaining content.

More than half (52%) of VPN users say it’s to access better entertainment content.

This equates to 16% of internet users globally.

VPNs are especially popular in fast-growth markets, where consumers tend to use VPNs to access a broader range of content from other countries.

VPNs let users bypass traditional connections to use the internet via a remotely-located server, often based in countries like the U.S., Ireland or Sweden, rather than their own home country, where the offering may be more limited.

Linear TV is still going strong.

Across all generations, internet users watch more broadcast TV than online TV.

Life stage has a clear impact here. Consumers who are in a relationship and/or living with their partners engaging more with broadcast TV than those who are single. But despite this, all groups watch roughly the same amount of online TV per day.

It shows that rather than cannibalizing the opportunities for linear TV, its online counterpart is complementing it.

Esports is growing in popularity.

Compared to a few years ago, esports has emerged as a more cohesive and mainstream genre of entertainment and is slowly becoming a household name.

As many as half of those aged 55-64 are now also aware of these competitive video game tournaments.

3 in 10 of 16-34 console gamers watch esports tournaments.

And while its demographic is narrow, it’s a highly desirable one: young, male and affluent.

Despite many traditional sports fans remaining unconvinced of esports’ close relationship to their favorite sports leagues, plenty of the sports leagues themselves have been keen to capitalize on this relationship.

In 2019, the esports market is set to grow and step further into the mainstream, creating a multitude of opportunities for brands to collaborate.

Music streaming remains limited.

38% of the online population claim to never use music streaming services, making this the least popular form of entertainment we track. In the age of Spotify, this may seem shocking, but generational splits tell the full story.

In 21 of our 42 tracked markets, more time is spent listening to radio than streaming music.

This is most evident in Europe , where the online population is older.

However, new hardware may be about to change this trend.

A quarter of those who don’t use music streaming services plan to purchase a voice-controlled smart speaker, and a fifth plan to purchase a smart home entertainment product such as a wireless speaker.

Easy access to these highly streaming-friendly devices may be the key to convert more casual music listeners into streamers.

Case study: Qualcomm, “Ignore This”

The Insight

When a TV program breaks for commercials, a lot of viewers start focusing on their smartphone rather than the TV.

The Message

American industry-leading telecom brand, Qualcomm, decided to take a tongue-in-cheek approach to their latest campaign, encouraging TV viewers to simply ignore the advert and focus on their phones instead – after all, they invented the tech behind the smartphone itself.

The overarching message is: “Watch our commercial or go ahead and check your smartphone — either way, you’re getting a whole lot of Qualcomm.”

Why it Worked

Making great use of insight into consumer behaviors, humor and confidence in the strength of the brand, the TV ads created by McCann manage to get the message through and draw the viewer’s eye to the screen despite that message.

It’s a perfect example of a brand that’s in tune with fast-moving entertainment trends, especially in relation to the continued rise of second-screening behaviors.

What this means for brands.

With consumers increasingly becoming multi-device, multi-platform users, it’s crucial for brands to know exactly where their target audience spends their time and why.

New channels and devices are becoming central to the entertainment habits of consumers, with the likes of esports and VPN usage growing in popularity.

But it’s important not to underestimate the continued importance of traditional channels like broadcast TV, which still play a crucial role in an effective end-to-end marketing strategy.

Among the brand discovery channels we track, TV ads remain one of the most impactful, with 36% reporting that they discover new brand or products through them, and 27% who say they discover brands via product placements in TV shows or movies.

Is TikTok Setting the Scene for Music on Social Media?

2018 saw an app borne out of an online lip-syncing craze become the new name on everyone’s lips: TikTok. It quickly gained popularity, climbing to the top of Apple’s App Store, and inspiring a new regular segment on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon.

But why do so many users flock to it? Why now? And what does it say about music on social media more generally?

Is TikTok set to redefine social media?

We carried out a special survey in November 2018 to find out – one of the first to illuminate the trend with insights drawn from TikTok users themselves.

The survey found that while TikTok has surged up the download charts, it still has a way to go before it can challenge the social media heavyweights.

15% of internet users in the UK and U.S. actively engaged with TikTok last month; some way below Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. But while TikTok may currently have fewer engaged users, it still offers valuable lessons about what might come next for social media.

What lies behind TikTok’s success?

It’s no great surprise TikTok users skew young, with 41% of them aged between 16 and 24.

When TikTok is mentioned in the news, it’s often compared to Vine, the now-defunct short video platform, and there’s some truth in those comparisons. As with Vine, TikTok is more of a creative than a strictly social platform.

When asked why they like it, users say they’re most interested in seeing other people’s creativity, and having the chance to be creative themselves. These creatively-minded motivations rank above social factors such as “I like the community” or “it lets me stay in touch with friends”, showing self-expression comes above all else.

But TikTok’s rise in popularity is no coincidence – it’s been ushered in by trends we have commented on before.

In recent years, our data has shown using social media to share personal updates and to connect with friends has become less important to internet users. Using it to find entertainment is now more of a priority. We see the evidence for that in the responses TikTok users give for why they enjoy using the service.

This trend is often called “passive browsing”, whereby social media users trawl through their feeds to consume content without sharing anything themselves.

But the appetite for contributing creative content to social platforms may have been underestimated.

Platforms like YouTube and Facebook have always hosted creative content on their networks, but its production has generally relied on third-party software.

TikTok distinguishes itself in its array of tools, effects, filters, as well as its ease in matching audio to video. It empowers its users to become content creators, and keeps creation within the walls of the app.

And TikTok’s users are creators. It boasts a keenly engaged user base, with a high ratio of creators to viewers.

68% watched someone else’s video in the past month, and 55% uploaded one. These stats are admittedly drawn its more active users, and while, as a smaller service, it benefits from dedicated early adopters, it’s still an impressive number of people actively contributing to the platform.

The competition and opportunity for the platform.

TikTok’s rise hasn’t escaped the notice of the biggest players in social media.

It’s certainly given Facebook impetus to make use of the music-licensing deals it signed with the three major record labels over the last two years. After the ink dried on its contracts with Warner, Universal and Sony/ATV, there was speculation Facebook would use those deals to build out its own streaming service.

This may still be a long-term goal, but for the moment the primary aim of those assets lies in using licensed music to drive more user engagement, overcoming the “passive browsing” trend. It’s likely to be beneficial for music publishers too, as social media becomes another place they can monetize their content online.

Facebook has come up with a number of approaches to try and confront TikTok, including a Lip Sync feature on Facebook Live and a new spin-off app called Lasso. But with its sizable pre-existing user base, the introduction of music stickers to Instagram Stories is perhaps the most intriguing move.

A music sticker lets a user put a short music clip in the background of a picture or video on their Story.

In our survey, we found that a quarter of internet users engaging with Instagram have used this feature in the past month.

As with TikTok, music stickers are used to fulfil a creative vision of sorts. 71% of music sticker users applied one “to fit the picture or video”.

But there’s another angle at work too. The top reason overall (73%) was to share a clip from a song the user liked, and 70% used it to express their feeling or mood. TikTok users share this inclination to a degree on that platform as well.

They’re more inclined to see the platform as a hub for creativity and expression – perhaps somewhere they can adopt a persona – but 55% of them say it lets them express how they feel. So using music on social media isn’t always just a matter of creativity; it can also let users showcase their personality in a meaningful, channelled way.

With TikTok’s growth and Facebook’s expansion of its music features, music hasn’t been this integrated with social media since the heyday of Myspace.

Adding music features to their services will allow social media platforms to try and reverse the trend of passive browsing – either by provoking their users’ creativity, or by giving them another vehicle to express their personality.

Do Brands Need a New Sense of Purpose in the New Year?

Many people enter the new year with a resolution and sense of renewed purpose – whether that’s to break a habit or pick up a new skill.

But what about brands? Considering ‘brand purpose’ was one of the most discussed topics among marketers in the last few years, should brands redefine their purpose as their New Year’s resolution?

What is a brand purpose?

Branding Strategy Insider defines brand purposes as statements that “set out how a company intends to change the world for the better …  a statement of belief, of hope, of pursuit.”

So a brand purpose is intended to answer the question of why and for what purpose are we selling our products? 

What good are we doing for the world and our consumers?

Without a clear brand purpose that goes beyond practical product benefits, some consumer might not see many reasons to commit to a brand. Purposes generally go beyond practical aspects, like the product and services provided, and focus more on the emotional, social and ethical benefits the company stands for.

It’s essentially the brand’s identity coming to life through its stance in the competitive landscape, helping them stand out.

How deep should brand purpose go?

Since 2015, we have polled consumers on what they expect from their favorite brands. Our global survey demonstrates the ethical, social and emotional desires that brand purposes can address, but despite rising requirements, there isn’t a major shift away from the more practical benefits that brands offer.

We have to dig further within brand expectations to find philanthropy, localism and fan communities among needs from favorite brands. By and large, classic sources of customer services – product care and being valued as a consumer – are leading.

Does this mean searching for a deeper meaning to the brand through ecological, philanthropic or social responsibility channels is pointless?

Not really. But it does mean that brands should think of a purpose in context of the other elements consumers still love and seek above all else: great products, smooth customer service, and a brand that shows some TLC to the consumer.

Our data shows that  brand purposes still need to focus on the product and customer connections.

Wanting a brand to “improve your knowledge and skills” stands out as the most value-driven request among the data points we track, in all sectors, and has been picked up by many brands for brand positioning over the years.

Classic lifestyle fashion GANT, for instance, launched their Never Stop Learning campaign to recenter the brand as intellectually stimulating and educational, and to link it back to the brand’s positioning as a sophisticated lifestyle brand.

But translating the key consumer need of learning from brands into action can be tricky.  

Only 1 in 8 want their favorite brands to provide content and videos, perhaps because these formats are usually linked to simple entertainment. It’s a tough one to crack, and knowledge/skill value can be difficult to deliver in a channel and format that will make this type of savvy consumer respond.

So what steps should brands take?

It depends on where the brand is in its lifecycle.

Mature brands with a solid history of a practical purpose that is communicated and built on products or services should now explore deeper purposes to associate the brand with. Younger brands will need to choose their battles out of many consumer expectations before they take on the balancing act – and it’s always better to do one thing, and do it very well.

For this, understanding the target consumer very well before soul searching for the brand is as important as ever.

But in general, the basics of brand purpose are still rewarding.

Having a best-in-class, innovative product with a five-star customer service to match is the way to go. Not exploiting the environment while doing so will give brands a good head start in the search for a deeper brand purpose.

Year in Review: The Best Data-Driven Marketing Campaigns of 2018

2018 was a year of change for everyone in the marketing and advertising arena, one that saw data and insight moving even further into focus.

Deep consumer insight is now playing a more central role in campaigns of all shapes and sizes, keeping the ROI promise and focusing attention on the right audience.

Throughout the year, we’ve highlighted some of the most innovative and impactful campaigns of the month that prove the growing connection between data and creativity.  

These five campaigns show us how.

1. Change the Facts, Not the Fro – Ogilvy

The Insight

One in five black women feel social pressure to straighten their hair for work.

This was just one of the key insights uncovered by the 2016 Good Hair study, investigating the stigma and cultural bias experienced by women with Afro hair.

Putting this research into action, Ogilvy UK used it to shape an impactful campaign, calling for change.

The Message

This campaign challenges misconception of straight hair as synonymous with beauty and success, urging people to think about how this portrayal affects people from every walk of life. The overarching message is a clear one:

Change the facts. Not the fro.

Launching in time for World Afro Day 2018, a global event celebrating Afro hair, culture and identity and offering education to create equality, it emphasizes the need for the Afro to be recognized in its natural glory.

Image credits: Ogilvy

The Result

Every so often, leading agencies and advocates for change come together to do something truly impactful.

This work shows the true value of what can come from using deep research to guide creative talent.

Focusing on a real world issue that’s been largely untouched by the media, the teams could reveal the truth behind the global problem, with insight that proved it.

Spreading its presence across DOOH, social, PR and online, with dedicated hashtags #WorldAfroDay and #Changethefacts, the teams gave people a reason to join the movement.

Aptly portraying the emotion at the heart of the campaign, this is data-driven storytelling at its best.

Read the full story.

2. NCDV – The Not-So-Beautiful Game

The Insight

Reports of domestic violence in the UK increase 26% when England play, and 38% when the team loses.

This was the insight uncovered by JWT that highlighted a serious issue lying under the surface of national football.

Forcing the public to reimagine what the sport means for victims of domestic abuse, the finding formed the basis for a striking campaign, launched at a pivotal time for action: during the world’s biggest football tournament.

The Message

With powerful images spread across digital, OOH and print, the ads ran on every England, Switzerland and Japan match day, right through to the end of the World Cup.

Portraying the national flags in shocking depictions of abuse, each image was tailored to the country in question, with one message reigning:

“If England get beaten, so will she.”

Urging fans to remember victims amid the hype while highlighting the fact that there’s help at hand, the ads show there’s far more to the game than we might think.

Image credits: Adage

The Result

Thanks to this campaign’s unique and impactful insight, directly linking football and domestic abuse, the seasonal message was sure to resonate.

And launching the campaign at the very moment victims are proven to be more vulnerable than usual, the NCDV could position themselves as a key source for help and support, when it’s most needed.

Read the full story.

3. Ad Council – End Family Fire

The Insight

8 kids a day are accidentally killed or injured by ‘family fire’.

This is the alarming insight that shaped the campaign, portraying a serious need for public attention.

This, along with the findings from the New York Academy of Medicine, who found that more than 4.6 million kids live in homes with guns that are unlocked and loaded, and three out of four of them know where those guns are kept.

The Message

The core message is a deeply emotional one that tugs at the heartstrings to reinforce the notion that:

“There’s no more tragic a death than when it’s by someone you love.”

But instead of urging people to take sides on the topic of gun ownership, the message is a call to gun owners to make safety their number one priority.


With this goal in mind, Droga5 spoke to the families of gun owners across the country. From their conversations, the team identified overarching themes of closeness, love and fear which governed this innate urge to protect their own.

The Result

Running nationwide online, in print and across broadcast media, the campaign is supported by a website, endfamilyfire.org, offering practical tips on how to practice gun safety in the home.

Using an impactful insight to change the conversation and shift perceptions around gun ownership, the strengths of this campaign lie in its ability to pose questions rather than point fingers, urging people to think differently.

It says that regardless of whether you’re for or against, there are measures we need to take collectively to prevent tragedy.

Read the full story.

4. Ad Council – Seize the Awkward

The Insight

An estimated 76% of young adults turn to a peer in a time of crisis for support, according to a survey conducted by the Jed Foundation.

What’s more, research from the National Alliance of Mental Illness reveals:

50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and 75% start by age 24.

Using these insights to inform their creative campaign targeting 16-24 year-olds, the teams saw an opportunity to raise much needed awareness on the issue at a fundamental time when many are at risk.

The Message

Mental health is still something of a stigmatized topic, despite conversations shifting in recent years. But too many young adults are struggling with mental health issues and not getting the help they need. This campaign says it’s time to speak up.


Urging its audience not to wait for the awkward moment to pass when you suspect a friend is struggling, it points to the familiar fear that many face of asking the wrong thing. But the message is clear: It doesn’t matter how you say it, just do.

“No need to be an expert. Just to be a friend.”

The star of the campaign is awkward silence personified, who highlights the glaring opportunity that so often presents itself to show you care.

The Result

This campaign proves the power that lies in uncovering an insight unique to your audience that can actually drive change.

Not only does it give the brand a key purpose, it proves its deep understanding of its target audience and the challenges they face in everyday life.

And, ensuring every element of the creative reflects the key insight, it finds a way to actively help the young people it’s targeting, highlighting how one seemingly small gesture can ultimately save lives.

Read the full story.

5. One Number Different – YMCA of the USA

The Insight

Kids born into a lower-income area code have less access to fresh food, quality education and job opportunities, meaning they have a much lower chance of getting ahead in life.

This was the insight that fuelled the creative campaign, focused on highlighting the inequality that exists across America.

The Message

Beverly Hills, for example, with a 90210 zip code, is reported to have a 95% graduation rate, while Compton, which has a 90220 zip code, has a graduation rate of just 59%.

“In America, the zip code you’re born into can determine your future.”

This is the key message the campaign puts forth – how something as simple as one number can spell completely different schools, jobs, dreams, problems, and in turn very different opportunities for the citizens of these neighborhoods.

The campaign goes on to explain that the Y is there to help kids from all backgrounds and zip codes to make a difference to their futures.

The Result

This powerful, but simple creative work is one of many from Droga5 that hones in on data to tell a hard-hitting story.

Tapping into the right emotions, it proves that a theory backed by insight can make a real difference – whether by simply starting a conversation, or by by changing the way we think.

Read the full story.

3 Things to Know about Festive TV Viewing this Christmas

The holiday season always promises an abundance of iconic and festive content to enjoy. With people breaking from work and having more spare time on their hands, that means more eyeballs than ever on the TV screen – and with that comes big commercial opportunities for brands and retailers.

This time of year gives consumers the chance to binge watch the box sets and tune into the movies they usually don’t have the time for. In fact, 55% of those who will be watching TV over the holidays say they’ll be watching more than normal – and that’s a story that holds true across the age groups.

Less than 10% see the holidays as a time to break away from their TV screens.

As the reach of online TV and subscription services increases with multi-device behaviors, understanding the dynamics of TV becomes even more important. So how and what will consumers be watching as they head into 2019?

As part of a bespoke study, we asked 2,700 internet users in the UK and U.S. about their viewing habits this festive season. Here’s what we found out.

1. More people watch TV on Christmas Day than Boxing Day.

As they wind-down and get into the festive spirit, it’s in the run-up to the 25th that TV viewers watch the most TV. Christmas Eve is set to be important too, with 43% of TV viewers saying this is when they tend to watch a significant amount of TV.

Perhaps most revealing are the figures for Christmas Day. While some assume consumers turn away from their TV sets in favor of family time on this day, almost half (48%) in the UK and U.S. say it’s when they watch some of the most TV over the festive period – almost twice as many as those doing so on Boxing Day.

This could be down to the family traditions built around Christmas Day – for example, families may watch a Christmas movie together in the evening, or in the UK, it’s often tradition to tune into the Queen’s speech mid-afternoon.

2. The holidays are a time for watching sports.

Festive movies like The Grinch and Home Alone, as well as Christmas TV specials, are naturally at the top of the Christmas TV preferences, but it’s not just festive content that will be getting the attention over the holidays.

As many as 40% say they’ll be watching sports around this time too.

In the UK and U.S., sporting leagues like the Premier League, NBA and NFL all broadcast games across Christmas and New Year. The Premier League, for instance, will broadcast four games over the two-week period – and Boxing Day is always a key date in the diary for football fans. Meanwhile, the NBA and NFL are the only two franchises with a live sport broadcast on Christmas Day – and the anticipation for this is often unmatched.

Sports viewing is one form of content that retains its appointment-viewing status, and during the holidays especially, there’s bound to be an appeal in watching the games live on a big TV screen with friends and family around. Along with this group viewing comes an even bigger audience and opportunity for brands and advertisers to leverage.

3. Online TV is set to rival broadcast TV.

Viewers this festive season won’t be limiting themselves to watching pre-scheduled broadcast or cable content.

UK and U.S. viewers are more likely to be watching subscription services like Netflix (64%) than they are live broadcast TV (55%).

The growing love of ‘binge watching’ TV series, combined with the extra time consumers have to do so, are giving services like Netflix the boost. Online TV services like these offer consumers the on-demand choice and flexibility that broadcast TV can’t mirror.

The ability to watch online TV services across a number of different devices is having an impact too. Among those who use these services, 43% are watching via a laptop, 35% are using a smartphone or tablet app, and 29% are using an Amazon Fire stick.

And with Christmas gifting expanding ownership of TV streaming sticks and smart TVs even further, these online TV services are likely to become an even more important part of consumers’ media portfolios next year.

That’s not to say there’s no place for broadcast TV in their schedules. In fact, most will be watching more TV than average, and combining online and offline forms of TV.

This means TV advertising is by no means redundant, as many will be planning their days around all the festive TV content that’s scheduled. Of course, this represents a big opportunity for advertisers – especially considering that 6 in 10 say that festive TV ads influence what they go out and buy.

This festive season promises to offer some of the biggest variety of content online and offline thanks to TV subscription services becoming more widespread. Consumers can choose to binge watch their way through Netflix original content, tune into the new drama being broadcast on cable, or watch their favorite seasonal specials on catch-up.

With that comes a big opportunity for brands and advertisers to target audiences with topical and relevant ads on more platforms than ever.

Will QR Codes Make a Comeback in 2019?

After the invention of barcodes in the mid 70s, there was an almost instant demand to encode more than the 20 characters held in traditional barcodes.

Based on user feedback, Denso Wave (owned by Toyota Group) put together a team of two to develop a 2D barcode that would be quicker and more flexible to scan.

Eventually, in 1994, they came up with a barcode that could hold up to 7,000 characters and could be scanned in any orientation up to 10 times faster than any other code at the time.

The QR code (Quick Response code) was born, and, being one of the first technologies that could easily connect the real and digital worlds, it was expected to be a major success for customers and marketers alike.

However, reality soon put a dampener on these high hopes.

The fall and resurrection of QR codes.

Requiring an additional application, accidentally opening to inactive websites, and codes not being scannable in poor lighting didn’t do much to boost the QR code’s standing. It was often easier to type in a URL than line up a smartphone camera to read the codes.

Today, inventions such as near-field communication (NFC) tags, most widely known as the secure and easy-to-configure technology behind contactless mobile payments, have moved into the areas QR codes historically attempted to fill.

In 2015, long after most had written off QR codes, Snapchat gave them a boost by launching QR-based Snapcodes, allowing users to easily follow their friends. Shortly after, Amazon, Google and Instagram all seemed to contract QR fever.

Last year, Apple’s iOS 11 incorporated a native QR code reader built into the camera app, and an expansion of the onboard NFC chip support allowed it to read NFC tags in the real world, as opposed to being limited to Apple Pay use.

Technologies often survive being pronounced dead. It can take a while to find its niche, but when it does, it’s suddenly useful and ubiquitous.

Over the past three years, we’ve seen significant increases in the number of consumers that scanned a QR code in the past month.

Twice as many respondents in Europe and North America scanned a QR code in the past month compared to Q3 of 2015.

The use of these codes is also gradually increasing in the Middle East and Africa, from a low of 12% in Q1 2017 to 18% in Q3 2018. While Europe may lead the way with contactless payments, the story in Africa is very different.

Payment solutions need to be different in Africa; the financial infrastructure is less developed and many of the financial ‘essentials’ present in Western markets are not available here.

Using Mastercard’s Masterpass QR – which will be making its social debut in Africa as part of a partnership with Facebook – customers can buy a solar energy system on credit and use their phone to make small daily payments for less than what they previously spent on hazardous kerosene lamps.

The future of QR codes and the role of NFC.

NFC has a steep hill to climb. Apple has decided to enable only reading of tags, and only on an app-by-app basis, meaning app developers will have to build support into their own software to make it work.

However, NFC could play an integral role in the ever-evolving state of brick-and-mortar retail stores.

It’s no secret that many old-time favorites, such as Toys R Us and Claire’s, are struggling to survive in the digital transformation of retail.

NFC has the potential to add an engaging, novelty element to the shopping experience. By directly tapping a product with an NFC tag embedded into the label or packaging, users can be greeted with anything from branded videos and exclusive coupons, to social media reviews of the product, or more information about the brand’s story.

Respondents who have used a brand’s QR code indicate a preference for innovation and novelty over usefulness. They’re 40% more likely than the average consumer to want the opportunity to contribute ideas for new products and designs, and over 2.5x more likely to have interacted with brands in such a way.

How should brands position themselves?

The respondents who have used a brand’s QR code in the past month have distinct preferences in other purchase areas, too.

They’re over twice as likely as the average internet user to discover brands via deals on group-buying websites like Groupon, and 2.5x as likely to say the presence of ‘buy’ buttons on social networks would make them more likely to complete a purchase.

Looking ahead to 2019.

Used in the right way, QR codes and NFC are exciting consumer engagement tools for the future.

In Japan, for example, banks and regional financial institutions expect to come out with a unified smartphone payment service, perhaps in April 2020.

This will allow savings account holders to pay merchants by showing QR Codes that appear on their smartphones.

WhatsApp is also testing a new feature that should make it easier to add people to your contact list using QR codes.

Soon, NFC will have to compete with augmented reality, meaning cameras will have better integrated AI that allows for greater recognition of images, scenes, products and people.

With cameras being less reliant on machine readability, and novelty being a weak foundation for tech adoption, it remains to be seen whether these technologies can bring the offline world into retail situations and become a mainstay for brands and consumers alike.