Forrester has released the latest edition of its industry forecast series, calling 2018 “a year of reckoning” for both businesses in general and marketers specifically. The vision of the future the Forrester Predictions report paints is a bleak one, one of failure and disappointment, stagnation and missed opportunities.

“2018 . . . will force many companies to take decisive action,” said Cliff Condon, chief research and product officer at Forrester. “While the economy is still growing and employment is healthy, the fate of companies has never been more uncertain.”

According to Forrester predictions, the gulf will widen between companies embracing innovative marketing technologies and those who aren’t willing or able to keep up. Forrester’s report claims that a full 30 percent of companies will fail to meet rising user expectations for customer experience, and another 20 percent will not properly adapt to the changing digital market.

“As a result, those firms will be acquired, or begin to perish,” the report’s introduction reads.

For firms lagging behind in the digital space, life will only get harder. Forrester predicts that 25 percent of companies will fail to grasp the algorithms that drive duopoly platforms, “resulting in their brand becoming undifferentiated and silenced in the market.” Furthermore, these “digital laggards” will find it more difficult to find the talent necessary to close the gap, as in-demand specialists will flock to brands already ahead of the curve.

The future of advertising is equally shaky, Forrester predicts. In 2018, 1 percent of the American population will take advantage of advancing AI technology to filter out advertising and further cocoon themselves in filter bubbles. That’s $24 billion in spending that marketers will be separated from, Forrester warns, and that number is likely to increase as AI and intelligent agents become more powerful and more popular.

As Americans increasingly avoid ads, Forrester predicts that the industry will suffer. According to their research, ad spending will fully plateau in 2018. Instead, chief marketing officers will shift their focus and investment in consumer experience, digital platform algorithms and advancing marketing technology.

Forrester points to short-sighted investment and managerial decisions for many of the problems on the horizon, especially at CEOs and managers for neglecting AI and blockchain research, as well as failing to properly understand both GDPR and digital platform algorithms.

Most importantly, Forrester says, slow and safe adaptation just won’t cut it anymore.

“Incrementalism may feel good, but it masks the quiet deterioration of the business,” the report reads.

“The window of opportunity to take bold action is starting to close,” said Condon.