2012 predictions: Media, marketing and communications experts share their views


By Stephen Lepitak, -

December 30, 2011 | 9 min read

Leading experts from across the world of media and marketing offer their thoughts on what the industry at large can expect to see from 2012.

Robert Harwood-Matthews, president, TBWA Group UK

"Next time I meet a Mayan in the pub I will tell them this, 2012 is not the end. We know that big businesses will continue to try to reduce deficits and that growth will be fairly anaemic in most circles but… with some cash in the system for the Olympics and continued development of personalised technology there is room for hope in our sector. My personal wishes are that the brave clients step forward and light a few fires and that pitch processes are run with clarity and honour, there’s been too much procrastination and dour behaviour."

Mike Anderson, CEO, Chelsea Apps Factory

"The apps industry's starting to come of age but, as things stand, we're still seeing more brands with apps commissioned ad-hoc than actual app strategies. That's going to change in 2012, and we'll see brands taking on apps houses as retained consultancies responsible for developing apps for both their customers and their employees. That'll mean vastly better, individuated app experiences for consumers, and a more efficient workforce with the ability to do more than just read their emails on-the-go."

Jason Barrett, director of creative technology, McCann Worldgroup

"2012 will be the realisation of how powerful Customer service and social partnerships are. Only a handful of UK businesses are doing this well. When they share the statistics and halo effects, more brands will start, catch up and innovate. As social continues to embody mainstream the harder brands will find it to ignore the potency of this channel. Better analytic software and sentiment measurement will be available, giving social the lead on both targeting and content. We’ll see awesome new mobile technologies (from Google, Apple and Sony), oh, and we’ll be buying a lot more stuff on our mobile."

Jenny Biggam, founding partner, the7stars

“Next year we are going to witness an abundance of media creativity in the UK. How could we not, when we have the Euros, the Olympics, and even a Jubilee to plan around? Euro 2012 should provide a boost to the ad market in June, particularly for ITV who will share broadcast rights with the BBC. Channel 4 has purchased the rights for the Paralympics in August and You Tube will stream highlights of the Games to countries all over the world as part of an IOC deal. Press media owners have some interesting Olympics plans, including Metro and City AM planning weekend editions. The Outdoor market will be even more dynamic. Poster companies are predicting 2012 revenue growth of 15% – one of the biggest growth years ever.”

Jamie Allan, managing partner, Intermarketing

“I think it’s fair to say that austerity measures will continue through 2012 and that the 1st quarter will be a tough one for retail. People are starting to realise that we are living in a time where they have to work hard and spend less, and that the carefree days of 2006 – 2008, when the mindset was spend, spend, spend, are well behind us.”

Jack Armley, front end designer, Tangent Snowball

“As more people browse the web on mobile and tablet devices, the “mobile first” approach in web design will fast become the standard one. As such, we’ll see more fluid, mobile friendly designs being built, instead of 960px width desktop-first designs.”

Robin Grant, managing director, We Are Social

“We’ll look at back at 2012 as a transformative year in the history of social media. Big brands are no longer experimenting with social – they are now taking it very seriously indeed. 2012 will be the year of social business – when companies realise that to reap the rewards of social media, real structural and cultural change is required.”

Simon Gore, managing director, Holmes & Marchant

"If you let the news get to you, 2012 could be another tiring year, with squeezed client budgets adding to the ongoing Euro frustrations. However, if you stick to what you’re best at with a great team, there are certainly medals to go for. After all, it’s an Olympic year."

Jason Madeley, MD, Hatch Communications

“Brands will need to ensure they continue to invest in marketing in 2012. Effective PR, both on an offline, will be vitally important for a campaign’s success, as brands and services chase shrinking consumer disposable incomes. I believe understanding the mood of your consumer, being willing to be a little more creative with communications, as well as driving social peer endorsement and engagement will be more important than ever, as the marketing industry look to deliver results in our historic Olympic year.”

Andrew Doyle, chairman, Holmes & Marchant

"No budget, no one left in marketing, the bank’s telling me not to rely on own label any more (too vulnerable/too easy for suppliers to switch), that we have to create a brand,

get it on the market in three months, see Tesco in three weeks with packaging and samples. Thank God for design agencies."

Carla Murphy, strategy & planning director, Live & Breathe

"As a pre-Christmas weekend in the capital proved (closing Regent Street made shopping much easier) people are still spending, and will continue to do so. In the year ahead those retailers making greater efforts to naturally integrate their stores with their digital offerings and bring offline experiences to online arena will be the shining stars."

Pete Martin, creative director, The Gate Worldwide Edinburgh

"Next year will be the year of the Chicken-Licken. There will be a fair amount of gloom and panic, and you’d expect to see some fall-out from that. I won’t be surprised if more agencies go bust, especially in a weak market like Scotland. The old agency business model is broken, and clients are looking for different. But, at some point, maybe late next year, people will start to realise the world is not ending. And so begins the next big upswing, and we expect to be ready for it."

Linda Miller, marketing excellence director, Brand Learning

"Marketers need to understand the complete customer journey, synthesise ever increasing amounts and sources of data and then apply creativity to make the data “readable”. The ability to create infographics that tell meaningful stories, and reveal immediately where the energy of a marketing team should focus, will become an increasingly critical skill."

Miles Welch, partner, Results International

"In 2012 brands will make better use of the data they collect from their various customer touch points. A recent IDC report found that digital information has doubled over the last 2 years and that trend will continue. Brands are still scratching the surface in how they use the data they collect (or more importantly don’t collect). To make sense of this ‘Big Data’ across offline and online channels, marketing departments need to work differently and adopt a different structure away from channel and around the customer lifecycle. Big opportunities exist for agencies to help brands make sense of this."

Darren Keen, managing director, Mars/Y&R

"2012 will bring out the Bristishness-in-Britain like we haven't seen in a long time, way beyond Will and Kate getting hitched, driven by the trio of gold-star events starting early summer. Considering the triple-gold-star summer, it’s likely we'll see very little by way of differentiation from grocery retailers as they attempt to exploit the opportunities they bring. They'll actually be noticeable by their similarities. As the application of QR codes clumsily limp along, the shopper-tech star of the show will be wider undertaking of NFC contactless payment with our smartphones. By 2013 we'll all be merrily paying for our small basket shopping trips by waving our mobile wallets at faceless checkouts. Additionally, brands are going to get serious with transactional ability within social spaces this year: 'Sell where our shoppers are' as opposed to 'Be where our consumers are' will be the smart brand's mantra in 2012."

John Watson, managing partner, Watson Phillips Norman

"2012 is going to be the worst year for the economy for a generation. We will be in recession by Easter. So the UK consumer will be feeling even worse in 2012 than today, Olympics notwithstanding. That means that hard-nosed direct marketers, whether on or off line, stand to make massive gains as the hard pressed consumer looks for bargains. It’s time to get the red starbursts out, guys!"

Mike Nicholson, planning director, Ogilvy Action

"Next year we’ll still see austerity on the High Street so delivering value to shoppers and consumers will be essential for retailers and brands wanting to stay competitive. But value will mean more than just equity-eroding price-cuts. In 2012 ‘relevance-marketing’ will move centre stage. Less will be spent on wasteful mass communications. Tightly targeted ‘right message, right-time, right-place, right-person’ interventions will grow. More of these will be digital. And more will be of tangible utility to shoppers and consumers. Next year brands will be saying less and doing more."


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