13 Trends You Can’t Afford to Ignore

We talk a lot about how communication has changed from the Mad Men era until today’s digitally driven consumer interaction. But what’s next for this industry that many of us love (and a lot of us love to hate)?

Here are my thoughts on the changes we will see in advertising, technology, marketing, and everything in between: “13 predictions on how our industry will change.” And please remember, as Don Draper in Mad Men said: “Change isn’t good or bad. It just is.”

1. The Convergence Continues

The industry convergence will continue, as brands will be demanding a truly integrated approach to everything they do. We will no longer be discussing advertising vs digital vs event vs PR etc. Everything will become one arena, where we utilise all the tools in the box, in order to reach, interact with and sway consumers. This will require agencies to hire different kind of people. People with hybrid backgrounds are people who see the full-colour palette, whereas others see black and white. It will also require agencies to find collaboration models that incentivise what’s best for the client and the client’s brand, not the agency silos.

2. The Expansion of Creativity

Creative teams will no longer be just a duo, but a wide variety of constellations of creative people: writers, art directors, visual artists, designers, developers, architects, musicians and others, who will co-create in new collaborative ways. As an extension of that, people who traditionally have been seen as “non-creative”, especially strategists, media consultants, branding specialists and data and analytics people, will have a greater impact on the creative output. This will, counterintuitively, make the process more creative, not less. In fact, we will soon stop categorising a small part of the industry as “the creatives” – to work in this industry, you will have to be creative, or you are finished.

3. The Death of Digital as Stand-alone Discipline

Digital will be (and already is) part of everything. There will be no specialised digital creative agencies. They will either be fully integrated or make a living as a tech provider for other agencies. This is not just a prediction, this is already happenng. Agencies who are embracing every opportunity for their clients are already winning the business.

4. Verticals Will Drive the new Specialist Agencies

Smaller agencies will still exist, but they will focus on industry verticals, like FMCG, Fashion, Automotive etc., rather than disciplines. The need for industry-specific competency will increase, but this trend will live side-by-side with more generalist strategic and creatively driven shops. This provides a great opportunity for small agencies, where they can remain a real threat to the larger networks. Clients will have to decide what is more important: industry expertise or broader marketing knowledge. And more choice is good.

5. New Technology Will Continue to Perplex the Industry

Agencies have never been the first to utilise technology. Technology comes from tech companies and the people. Creating digital transformative strategies that are media-neutral and technology-agnostic is the only way to be prepared for whatever comes, and it will all be integrated into one lead strategy. This includes mobile, wearables and the Internet of Things. Agencies will have to keep increasing their tech competency and hire more hybrid talent – not buy more digital agencies.

6. Relationship Marketing Will Go Mainstream

The principles behind relationship building will finally make it into mainstream communication. Mass communication will go from unidirectional to bidirectional and multidirectional. Big Data will be integrated with “Small Data,” or individual customer records, if you will. This will allow us to communicate in a more personal way to more people at a time. Think Tom Cruise in “The Minority Report.”

7. Entertain Me, Be Useful or Go Home In exchange for marketing communications, audiences will start demanding quid pro quo. The two most efficient ways to provide that, will continue to be entertainment and utility. If you help people and are useful in their lives, you will create a unique relationship with them. The same if you are consisently entertaining them. They will respect you for it, and they will want to associate themselves with your brand. Just make sure the role you choose is relevant for the consumer – and for the brand. And just for the record, message pushing will have no part in this exchange.

8. Social Currency Will Play an Even Bigger Part in People’s Lives Social currency is the biggest driver in the sharing economy. What you offer in the social space will be evaluated, analysed and judged to be valuable or a nuisance. Consumers will, therefore, continue to measure their peers on their contribution to the conversations. People who are destructive, offer irrelevant information, or otherwise annoy their friends will have a reduced role in the conversation (less social currency), and those who offer value will have more. The same goes for brands. (The same rule applies in the offline world, by the way).

9. The Curated Web Will See a Counterculture The Curated Web has been a blessing for a lot of people; as they have been provided filtered content by their peers, content providers and brands. It makes it easier for people to snack on information, enjoy it (or hate it), and share it (or not). However, we will soon see an uprising against this, as consumers are increasingly sick of seeing the same click-bait stories from their friends, from Buzzfeed/Business Insider and from brands over and over again. They will search for fresh and valuable content using their own (or tailored) predictive search algorithms rather than relying on the “wisdom of crowds”.

10. Data and Analytics Will Rise to Power

Listening to the consumer will take on a whole new meaning, as we will know more, understand more and utilise more data than ever before. Predictive modelling will be more and more accurate and thus more useful. We will be able to listen, create and execute in an instance, and by that, become more relevant to the consumer. This will power the new Relationship Marketing revolution and the Social Currency evolution.

11. The Internet of Things Will Not Turn Out to be a Hype

We will see a revolution in connected devices, appliances, vehicles, instruments, wearables and things we can’t even imagine yet. Many of these will provide opportunities for marketers that will bridge service design, marketing and utilities in relevant and interesting ways. The opportunities will be so many and diverse, that a brand can quite literally find an IoT technology that is both relevant and unique for their brand.

12. From Marketing as a Service to Service as Marketing

Utility marketing and service marketing will grow exponentially as the communication clutter continues. As already seen in services like WeChat, we will be able to create fully integrated marketing solutions within an environment the consumer already uses and loves. Taking advantage of these platforms will allow cost-efficient digital ideas to lead the way. It’s not digital first, not even mobile-first. It’s people first.

13. Timesheets will Die

Ok, this is just wishful thinking on my part…

So there you have it. These are my predictions and my opinions, not to be confused with “the whole truth and nothing but the truth”.

Erik Ingvoldstad is the Founder & CEO of Acoustic.
Follow Erik on Twitter @ingvoldSTAR, follow Acoustic at @AcousticGroupSG
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[Main photo by B K, under CC]