Annual Predictions Are Easy -- I'll Prove It With This Post

It is tradition that at the end of the year, writers and industry pundits light up their crystal ball and predict what they think will be the key developments in the industry for the coming year. Crystal-balling has in fact been a tradition since the invention of the almanac, dating back to some time to the middle of the second millennium BCE.

When it comes to marketing and advertising, I recently realized that predicting is actually not very hard at all. And I am going to prove this to you with this post.

So let’s start with the five topics I predict will grab headlines in 2015:

1.     Agency fees and payment structures.

2.     Digital advertising.

3.     Sponsorship and event marketing.

4.     Consumer insights.

5.     Consolidation.



Those are my five predicted hot topics for 2015. And how do I know with a large degree of certainty that they will be hot topics? Because I predicted those same five topics in 1995 for 1996. That’s right, I just basically copied my end-of-1995 predictions. I had to translate them, as they were written for the Dutch advertising industry trade magazine Adformatie, for whom I wrote a column at the time (find the original on my Twitter feed, LinkedIn page and Facebook page).

Of course the context for each topic has evolved a little (not a lot!), so here is how I would describe each for 2015:

  • On agency fees: Advertisers will (must) change how they pay for agency services. The marketing world is in turmoil. We are using touch points that are bought and sold in completely new ways, and we are in need of services to manage the content and the buys in ways we never needed before. Plus we apparently pay for stuff that is invisible or only visible to bots. I don’t think your bog-standard (FTE +overhead) agency fee agreement is sufficient anymore.
  • Digital advertising (or rather, digital everything) will continue to grow and grow, despite the many (MANY!) questions and issues surrounding it -- effectiveness? Pay for real reach only? What is the definition of “real reach” to begin with? And so on.
  • With regards to sponsorship of sports and events, investment and rights fees will continue to increase. Beyond the effect of scandals that are rocking the many different sports, the real question is how well marketers and rights holders are capable of integrating brand activation across all touch points that consumers now use to connect with big tentpole events.
  • Extracting consumer insights from all the rich data we now have in real time is the true art, science and discipline that challenges marketers. In a massively fragmented and constantly evolving world, understanding of your consumer is (and will continue to be) critical.
  • Finally, consolidation. Whether between agency groups, start-ups or other new marketing economy companies, the merging and acquiring will merrily and giddily continue in the new year.

In the end, what does all this tell us? That everything that is old is new again. And also, that we have not really addressed any of the big issues that have been challenging us for the past 20 years.

So here’s to 2015. Let’s try and move beyond 1995, shall we?

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