Brands will ditch legacy decision-making, 5G will bump blockchain as the industry buzzword, and "connected experiences" will be the most high-stakes tug of war over the coming year, according to an array of predictions by leaders at Publicis Media.
Scott Donaton, Global Chief Creative and Content Officer, Digitas & Content Practice Lead, Publicis Media Americas, foresees an emerging "connection" battle with one side hosting a rising fear that technology will disconnect us from each other. On the other side, a solidifying conviction the experiences that connect us will move us forward.
"For marketers, there’s a lot riding on the outcome," he says. "Because one thing is clear: Consumers will no longer tolerate disconnected brand or media experiences. If your product requires waiting in a line or (heaven forbid!) speaking to a person, this is the end of your era." He believes "anticipation, orchestration and integration are the new marks of quality."
Likewise, to thrive in the direct-to-consumer realm, agencies will need to break down their own silos and become agents of customer experience, managing everything from advertising and media to customer acquisition and management, predicts Scott Martino, vice president,digital investment, Blue 449.
"The stakes will get higher as projects involving just one element of the marketing mix will be reduced in favor of more consolidated assignments," he says. "The winning brands of tomorrow demand that authenticity and control be kept as consistent and close as possible. The agencies of tomorrow will need to adapt to be more than a partner; they must be stakeholders in the success of their clients."
Brands are catching on to what consumers already know: The more you interrupt their experience, the more they’ll go out of their way to avoid you, says Eric Levin, executive vice president-Global Chief Content Officer, Spark Foundry & U.S. lead, Publicis Media’s content practice.
As a result, he says, brands are moving away from wasted inventory (banners/takeovers) to more personalized and engaging approaches that put the consumer at the center. This means focusing experiences that can be brought to life on and off screen, be digitally informed (not led), and prove efficacy through new and updated methods of measurement, adds Levin.
Marketers often spend their time brainstorming around nascent technologies, but sadly often find the benefit to humans are specious at best, says Steve Bonner, executive vice president,brand innovation, Starcom USA. "5G will be game changing in the sense that it will enable us to move faster and more seamlessly across a variety of areas. The key to effectively brainstorming around 5G will be figuring out ways to get the technology closer to people than it naturally will be, so they understand how it will make life more magical," says Bonner.
Data will continue to remain an industry talking point. While the last three to five years have been about collecting, buying, sourcing and finding a place to ‘hold’ data, this coming year will be about the shift from amassing data to using data strategically. A move that will "unlock unprecedented ROI for brands and transform how we truly understand a customer,” says Kathleen Dundas, president, data strategy, Zenith, Moxie, MRY. She adds this will range from insights that drive brand-building communications to the usage of a consistent ID in end-to-end customer relationship building.
Helen Lin, Chief Digital Officer, Publicis Media, adds that tomorrow’s most powerful brands will begin to evolve into invaluable consumer ecosystems, “simultaneously unlocking growth and relieving their reliance on other platforms.” She says "agencies driving marketing cloud adoption will be poised to help brands activate data-informed advertising in a more privacy-compliant way and will enable the emergence of analytics and insights that weren’t possible before.”
Indeed, marketers are and will increasingly be expected to use everything they know about people to craft unique experiences, personalized to individuals and their context, across categories, says Bohb Blair, Chief Experience Officer, Starcom Worldwide. "With consumers increasingly valuing choice curation, product personalization and predictive convenience, we’ll continue to see paid subscription shopping services gain traction across categories."
Esteban Ribero, senior vice president, planning and insights, Performics, adds, "A person’s identity doesn’t change day-to-day, but their needs do," he says. "They respond to ads and experiences differently, depending on their mind-set." Ribero believes 2019 promises more media experiences and landing pages aligned to specific mind-sets within moments, powered by AI, all "enabling brands to expand media investment beyond last-click, conversion-focused media to engage and assist people in intent moments earlier in the decision journey."
Content integration will finally deliver a return on investment through "instant shoppability" that will link content to revenue growth and brands, predicts Jeremy Cohen, vice president,head of global content partnerships, Publicis Media. "While the idea has been around for years, only recently have publishers and social platforms unveiled scalable and semi-automated capabilities that empower brands to drive product sales within a content environment."