2016 will go down in history as one of the most unpredictable years to date. To accurately look ahead at what’s in store for 2017 is nothing but a fool’s errand. But this fool is going to try. Fasten your seatbelts for a 2017 drive-by as we look at the hottest industry predictions for the year ahead.

1.LIVE – Live content is no longer a stunt. Driven by live streaming functions across social platforms, brands will use the tech for product launches, brand campaigns and everyday consumer interaction. If it isn’t happening live, it’s history.

2.TRANSPARENCY – No change here at the7stars, but networks and clients will wake up to the lack of transparency. Improving data transparency will be a key trend in 2017.

3.OUTDOOR IS DIGITAL – Last year, static billboards became high-tech, city-centre infrastructure, with the installation of LCD/LED screens and fully interactive offerings such as LinkUK and Signature Outdoor’s The Loop. This year, Clear Channel announced the launch of Europe’s first out-of-home programmatic buying tool, completing its “transformation into a 21st Century digital media”. Out-of-home will be truly interactive as advertisers align their mobile marketing strategies and NFC campaigns to become more effective.

4.VR EXPERIENCE – If 2016 was the year of virtual reality, then 2017 will be the year to take the tech from a pop-up novelty to a fully-immersive experience. ABBA, surprisingly, have led the way, announcing a VR-experience tour set to launch next year. VR will become more than a visual and auditory experience, as developers experiment with handheld controls and haptic feedback gloves.

5.MORE M&A – Following on from IBM’s move to buy a digital agency, and Accenture’s acquisition of Karmarama, expect the continued rise of consolidation within the martech/adtech space.

6.REAL NEWS – In 2016, Zuckerberg vowed to end fake news on Facebook, announcing several projects designed to “take misinformation seriously”. This year, social platforms will join to declare war on fake news, trolls, and, to use the latest buzzword, ‘alternative facts’.

7.DIVERSITY – In the workforce, in skills, in campaigns, and in ideas. The more advertising and media reflects the diversity of the world around us, the more effective marketing will be.

Other notable mentions: social VR, the resilience of TV, even speedier delivery, AI, bots, brand purpose, convergence, wearables, Amazon, Facebook, Snapchat IPO, bitesize digital news and another year of the mobile. We’re in for one hell of a ride.