Commentary

For 2020, Aim For Authentic Connections With Consumers

While many of the issues marketers face in 2020 sound familiar to 2019, get ready to see them accelerate faster than ever before.

In 2020, collaboration, transparency and ad tech are still top of mind, but finding ways to bring people together in the real world is increasingly what will set successful brands apart.

Here are five predictions for 2020:

1. We move up the funnel through measurement. In 2020 I see a media world that is increasingly digital, but not just lower-funnel. Digital media time and money have already surpassed traditional media. 

I’m confident we’ll see more and more investment in digital media, especially OTT. But expect more brands to want proof that their investments are paying out throughout the funnel. Brands will need lots of help and assurances that moving up the funnel works.

While micro audience targeting is still a big investment driver, the odd live event -- the ones that bring the nation together, like the Super Bowl or the Olympics -- are becoming even more valuable and expensive, online and offline.

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2. We run out of patience for misinformation. The rise of digital media heightens concerns about privacy and honesty. I expect this to force the hand of lawmakers and regulators to pass new regulations on technology and media practices.

Especially going into a presidential election, I expect consumers to quickly get fed up with misinformation and come to realize that without an honest and free press, democracy cannot exist. Brands may become less dependent on channels like social media, which allow sensationalist and false news to spread at an alarming rate. As the credibility of social media wanes, so will consumers’ reliance on the channel for brand discovery.

The buzzword for 2020 is deepfakes.

3. There will be fewer opportunities to make authentic connections.The spread of misinformation and digital dependence will lead to a breakdown in interpersonal connectivity.

We live in a world (sadly) where we spend more time with our heads down on our phones and less time engaging with one another and our surroundings. This comes with unfortunate consequences, including mental illness and drug abuse.

Brands and marketers alike will recognize the importance of real-world experiences and events and their power to unite people, and reintroduce real connectivity and intimacy.  There’s a reason Trump’s rallies are so successful.

4. Increasing AI dependence will challenge traditional job functions. AI capabilities continue to mature and advance into the advertising and media space. Many marketers already use AI-backed tools, and in the next year we will become even more dependent on them.

As AI automates more tasks, many traditional job functions will change. Embracing the shift in mindset from "doers" to "thinkers" will allow marketers to maximize the potential of AI, while deepening insights and creativity.

Expect agencies to begin experimenting with AI planning and buying tools and begin to build the agency of three years from now (because that’s how quickly it will change).

5. Brands will continue to experiment with in-housing. In 2020, many brands will bring more media planning and buying functions in-house. Some will try it and not like it. But others will find it very successful.

In-housing makes sense for many brands, especially those that use digital media to acquire customers directly. As brands figure out what makes sense for their business model, agencies should make themselves available to collaborate and provide transparent guidance.

Final thoughts. In a world that changes at an unbelievably rapid pace, it’s difficult to predict exactly what 2020 will bring. In this kind of fast-moving, skeptical and uncertain landscape, marketers must embrace collaboration and radical transparency, and look for opportunities to bring people together.

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