This post is by Darren Woolley, Founder of TrinityP3. With his background as analytical scientist and creative problem solver, Darren brings unique insights and learnings to the marketing process. He is considered a global thought leader on agency remuneration, search and selection and relationship optimisation.
With the pace of change occurring in marketing, media and advertising it is becoming essential to be able to pick the trends early, but ironically it is also becoming more difficult as well. Technology is changing not just the way we do business, but also the very market itself.
The TrinityP3 consultants work with advertisers, marketers and procurement across all categories, across all sizes from local advertisers to global multinationals, across Asia Pacific. This places us in a unique position to be able to identify the the trends happening within the market place.
Here, 12 of the TrinityP3 consultants join me in making predictions for 2016 for marketing management across all disciplines. So as the the tide comes in on 2015 we draw a line in the sand for the coming year. Right or wrong? Accurate or misguided? Only time will tell. But they are definitely the trends marketers, advertisers and their procurement teams need to consider in the year ahead.
A proper, open debate on what the marketing skill set needs to be – and hopefully more than the usual exchange of tired cliches between opposing camps with something to sell or prove.
How close to IT and how truly conversant with technology does the marketer need to become? Should the Chief Marketing Officer actually become the Chief Customer Officer? What are we missing in Australian marketing? How can we lead?
The continuing rise of the smaller, specialist agency – priding itself on doing one thing well and playing nicely with the other agencies on the roster.
Another media agency transparency story.
An end to the madness of marketing organisations running agency rosters of eighty or ninety.
Three or four agencies refusing to pitch creative work as a business principle – and prospering by that decision.
As you forgot to charge up your electric car, you decide to voice activate your solar powered Segway from your smart wedding ring. It arrives at the front door at the same time as your driverless car starts up in your driveway.
Hmmm, which one to take?
You decide that your battery powered hover board is the way to go and hightail it off to a café to have yet another skim, mocha, lemon latte.
As you sip away, here are some crystal ball thoughts about 2016 that may just change your marketing life forever.
2014 was the year of lots of talk about marketing transformation in Australia. In 2015 it started to occur. So in 2016 restructures will continue.
Your centralised and collaborative constructs are working but not efficiently.
There will be a greater need to focus on your employee’s happiness. Processes, structures and key projects are now simply base line.
In 2016 it’s time to understand how happy your staff really are with all the change that has occurred. And it will be critical to identify the real value employees and teams are offering to your business.
2016 will also be the year of making more sense of business and customer data. You will continue to focus on new technology but at last you will have better data to analyse.
However beware the creation of dashboards for dashboard’s sake. Focus on meaningful metrics that help identify whether you are achieving success (ie: your goals).
We’ve seen the start of buy buttons in social media, and Facebook is rivaling Google when it comes to search, so keep an eye out for suggestive selling on virtually all platforms.
S-commerce (social commerce) means that people can keep an eye on everything their friends and friends of friends buy. It’s word of mouth on steroids.
Your e-commerce managers will need to think way beyond your own e-store to harness the real power of social at the right time in a customer’s decision making process.
After testing social media, content marketing, for a few years now, 2016 will be the year of advocacy. And not just “shares”, “ratings” and “mentions”, but real advocacy.
Identifying who the key influencers are in and around your brand world. Then harnessing them for preferential treatment. This will move marketers from promoted content to the union of paid and earned media strategies. Watch this space for a major move by Google.
Get ready for a tsunami of smart devices, objects and wearables.
We are fast becoming a mobile connected world, so after a lot of hype, launches, fun and testing, I believe we’ll start to see more commercial applications of these smart devices in 2016.
Whether it be tracking staff performing physically demanding jobs, identifying problems with utility infrastructure, or helping analyse disasters and recovery procedures, the smart businesses will realise commercial value.
Plus watch out for a whole new wave of servicing customers, answering customer queries and managing customer relationships. Mobile devices will mean that marketers must foster a much closer relationship between contact centres, social media platforms, email deployment and problem solving tools / technology.
Leading marketers will need to focus on real customer service and satisfaction or die a death in social media.
Just as we’re seeing the sad invasion of western society by extremists, unfortunately the bad side of human nature will also attack marketing & technology platforms.
Watch out for more database hacking, vandalising smart interfaces, and cyber cloud attacks.
With the rise of marketing automation and customer targeting tools, people will start to switch off. Beware investing in automation without a clear strategy and customer journey plan.
Leading marketers will have learnt from their successes and failures in 2015 and will start to focus automation in profitable areas rather than a scattergun of targeting all the people that they identify.
I am seeing a lot of client problems being around the requirement for agency partners to be able to provide more sophisticated tracking and reporting so both parties can be more responsive in the current climate as well as more efficient with budgets.
The emphasis being based on continued discussion around big data and the use of relevant content. Clients are realising they need more ‘live tracking’ on customer conversation and the ability for fluid response. As well as the ability to be responsive with adjustments to existing plans both strategically and with media planning.
Hand in hand with being able to report in a ‘real time world’ requires fluid and reactive agency partners who can utilise best practice tools to facilitate reporting with actionable outputs. This requires fluidity within the agency approach and activation capabilities.
How does this effect agency structures? A lot of agencies are responding to the needs of the client by setting up content rooms in house, a team tracking and responding to consumer conversation.
Media houses are adopting the automated trading facilities for their client plans. Creative agencies are being challenged more and I foresee them having to really look at how they approach a brief within their current agency structure and ensuring the digital and content plans are hand in hand part of their initial strategic or big idea creative responses.
In 2015 Customer (and User) Experience went from buzzword to new norm.
2016 will challenge businesses to stay ahead with being truly customer centric. A more sophisticated and granular approach to customer segmentation and personalisation using data and behavioural insights; identifying more complex user journeys due to growing amounts of connected devices being used.
(e.g. Gartner predicts that by EY 2017 the number of connected health and fitness devices will exceed 580 million units).
The debate around the financial transparency of Agency Trading Desks will continue, but it will not de-rail a continuation of growth in programmatically traded digital media, as agencies invest further into the sophistication of proprietary technology. Following a challenging 2015 for media agencies, marketers are now more aware of agency transparency than ever before, and will make further attempts in 2016 to try and alter the contractual norms that have so far inhibited their ability to fully understand how advertising budget is apportioned by an agency trading desk.
The rise of ad-blocking is going to force agencies and marketers to re-consider strategy, both in terms of how media is targeted/re-targeted, and how content is developed and structured.
Programmatic will make a leap forward in non-digital media channels – outdoor, with organisations such as IPG’s Cadreon already pioneering change in 2015, stands out as a leading candidate media for programmatic development in 2016.
The battleground of ‘data’ will intensify as media agencies try to prove their worth in areas such as multi-touch attribution modelling. This will exacerbate a skills shortage in data expertise. Agencies will continue to try and capture data-science talent from other industries as they fight to retain relevance, and as their clients strive to build better back end data analytics across their owned assets.
The influence of procurement in agency selection will continue to grow. As agencies continue to evolve, the gap in understanding between procurement and agencies will widen. The need for a balanced approach between marketers, agencies and procurement teams will become even more important in 2016.
I predict that clients will continue to lose money and control of their moving media assets as they stick to the old school management matrix, production protocols and contracts that have been in place since the early 80’s.
Times have changed in the technical world of moving media but not the management of moving media.
The 3 pillars of production, client services, the agency producer and the production house producer have not changed their modus operandi for 40+ years.
Client service’s remit is to win the trust and confidence of the client. The agency producer’s remit is to service the creative director and his or her teams and make sure they get what they want, often at the client’s expense. Finally the production house producers remit is to maximise the production house profits quite often through contract manipulation, and the SPAA contract is the perfect vehicle for this.
It is common knowledge among production professionals that the production house producer can squeeze a lot more profit out of a production than the 15% to 20% declared in the contract as the mark up.
And yet your client services person will tell you that everybody, every step of the way has nothing but the client’s best interests at heart and you should trust your personally tailored production team to look after your interests.
So if you are happy with this status quo and a 40 year old business model just keep on doing what you have done in the past and trusting those that service you. It may be wise to remember that both Volkswagen and the Commonwealth Bank were very trusted brands / businesses.
So perhaps it’s time to think again.
I can see the spread of automatic repurposing software systems being offered directly to marketers.
The lead agency will come up with the strategy, idea and one version of the content. The marketer will then pass this original content to one of the new (or existing) repurposing software companies to produce all variations for the campaign. This allows greater control and lower production costs.
Coupled with this, as the marketer manages more content, look out for more intuitive digital asset management (DAM) systems. The complexity and lack of services around existing DAM’s has delayed the process of moving assets in house. This is about to change in 2016.
Finally, I did say this last year but will say it again, a rising trend to be a sustainable business will make marketing departments question the environmental impact of their communication.
2016 will be a year of data realisation – where a broader range of marketers take responsibility for closing the data gaps and data utopia starts to become a reality.
This year has been one of recognition – recognition that data capture is haphazard, collected in silos and opportunistic. And that agencies have invested in data analysis at a more rapid rate than the clients they are working with.
A year where the balance of power has sat with those that are analysing the data. And where data sense is only gained when gaps are filled with third party data.
It has been obvious, sometimes painfully so, that marketers demands of agencies to be data specialists is premature. Pitches and alignments require of agencies a special data song and dance routine to show the depth of their capability.
In reality, the capability outweighs the opportunity, as the data collected within the marketer’s business is little more than one dimensional or not the true measure of success. Agencies are reduced to seeking data from external sources and force fitting, in an effort to meet the scope of their contract and their promise.
It feels like 2016 will move towards a more systematic and mature collection process, across a range of business units within businesses, which will allow data manipulation that can provide meaningful insights. Not just customer data – although that’s a good start. But product data, distribution data, data that tells the full story. Successful case studies will become the norm, not the exception.
In the not too distant future, clients will have a central repository and data retrieval will be a matter of tapping in. Then the agencies can be truly tested on their promises. And the power of rich data will be realised.
Mobile will begin to dominate. All data points to a massive lift in mobile use for all web behaviour. Time to think about how well you are optimised for mobile and I’m not talking just about being mobile friendly – I am talking about optimising for the local SEO 3-pack where applicable, ensuring fast mobile page-speed and taking a fresh look at User Experience and content structure with a mobile audience in mind.
Ad blockers will be fiercely debated. Following on from the focus on mobile the Google mobile UX currently serves up all ads above the fold for many niches. Is this the experience that Google wants? It certainly isn’t the one mobile users would prefer. So the proposed Apple blockers and other blocking software will be taken up in larger numbers forcing a rethink in how ads are placed.
Facebook will continue to grow as a paid advertising channel. No one can dispute the power that the right Facebook sponsored stories have. The reach potential is far greater than any other social media channel if your product is right and if you use it strategically.
Structured data and schema will become an essential element of any website project. Strategic short copy for metadata will continue to reward those that manage this aspect correctly. There should be no excuses for web properties that are not completely optimised as per Google’s recommendations.
Page optimisation will continue to shift from specific keyword targeting to overall intent and relevance. Having the right relevant information once people get to your page is the key as many ranking signals are based on visitor behaviour after people click through.
In-depth content that offers unique insights will help you to stand out from the avalanche of similar content being published, will rank better in search, will get more social shares and attract more links.
These will need to be specifically created to offer a solution to a particular need. This means that targeting will be less about high traffic generalist content and more about identifying multiple low traffic niches to target. Has it been said before elsewhere? Then don’t even bother publishing it again.
I would like to think that old school spammy SEO practices will finally die out. But I doubt this will happen. Judging by the number of people still using spun comment spam, dodgy directories, referral spam, low quality blog networks, link farms and other manipulative practices to try to artificially hack into higher positions it seems that the message is still not getting through.
And these tactics are still being used by some major development and SEO companies unfortunately.
Content marketing will continue to diversify. The rise of alternative content formats will grow but the big platforms will continue to dominate. The big success stories will be projects that have a big budget for technical development, creative, UX, customisation and interaction and will rely on large budgets for promotion.
Measurement of ROI will continue to be a topic of discussion but more marketers will start to filter the noise and focus on the metrics that actually matter.
Whilst connecting with customers has always been a priority, I think 2016 will also see organisations turn their focus internally to ensure they have the most effective marketing structures to best communicate with their customers.
Customers are choosing a range of communication channels to interact with brands, however many clients continue with traditional marketing structures, channels and agency models, missing the opportunity for these interactions or remaining too slow for them to be worthwhile.
We’ve seen a number of clients caught up in complex and protracted internal processes across a number of internal divisions or groups hindering not only speed to market but the entire communication process.
Recently however, we’ve seen a desire to reorganise these structures and processes, to suit the new environment and think 2016 will be a big year for realignment.
The debate over digital media transparency will intensify next year
As more and more agencies begin to offer ‘disclosed’ media transparency pricing agreements, the debate will continue as to if disclosed or non-disclosed work is in the best interests of the marketer.
Most agency contractual agreements have worked on a ‘non-disclosed’ basis, where by the agency or its related affiliate is able to arbitrage (buy and sell for a profit) digital inventory, and sell the inventory for a significant profit, over and above any commissions and fees paid on the inventory, to plan and buy relevant digital services.
In some cases, both the network trading desk, and also the local billing agency are able to mark-up inventory, leaving only a relatively small amount of the budget to pay for the true cost of the inventory. This obviously has a major impact on value.
After significant calls for more transparency in the media, a number of agencies are now offering ‘disclosed’ agreements. A disclosed agreement allows for the marketer and agency to pre-agree a margin or mark-up, which is generally relatively substantial when compared to the acquired price from the media owner or publishers, which is then passed through in line with the commercial terms of the agreement.
TrinityP3 highlights the importance of having clearly defined terms, to ensure this margin can only be made by paying the trading desk direct (no further mark-up), or through a transparent and auditable process within the trading desk or media agency contract.
However, in some cases due to the huge volume of inventory bought, the reconciliation process does not make audits easy, and therefore it is often a complex process to determine the true difference or ‘profit’ between the gross sold price and net media cost for specific inventory.
The final consideration that the marketer needs to consider, is the agency and its affiliates are also commercial operations, so are likely to sell the best inventory to the client who pays the highest price.
Will entering a disclosed relationship impact the quality of the inventory allocated to the marketer, unless they agree to pay a premium rate? The debate will continue in 2016.
My hope/prediction for 2016 is that marketers will get back to basics and nail the fundamentals of marketing in order to really connect with their target audience/customer instead of focusing on the tactics.
Marketers will spend time on getting the product and positioning right to deliver what their audience wants.
This year saw the rise of the Chief Customer Officer in services-based organisations such as Financial Services, Telcos and the like. I predict this trend will continue and next year will be the Year of the Customer.
And while this sounds intuitive and that the customer is the foundation of business success, it is the fact that the data and the technology required to analyse and respond to create a customised and personalised customer brand experience is now readily available.
Even for Consumer Good organisations and other product marketers who do not own their retail channel, the focus will move to customer and consumer and using data and technology to create increased brand engagement.
But this transformation requires a rethink of the marketing structure and function within the organisation. The brand becomes the foundation of the customer strategy to engage by creating a branded, aligned customer experience.
This means structurally the role of marketing moves to lead and manage the customer interface rather than being positioned as a support to the business. In silo organisations, this is the opportunity to create a customer centric experience and while it may not achieve a “single view of their customers”, it allows them to operate in a greater customer centric manner.
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