As part of a series of predictions for 2014, industry thought leaders share their thoughts on the big advertising and digital trends for the year ahead.
Guy Phillipson, CEO, IAB
Given that investment in digital media reached a heady £6bn in 2013 and that spend on mobile advertising is approaching the £1bn mark, it’s a fairly safe bet that digital media will continue to be a growing part of the marketing mix. However, how we make ads and what we make is where we’ll see true transformation in 2014.In the past, and even now, very distinct, siloed groups make and buy advertising, yielding a world where offline is approached separately from online, making both channels perform less well than if they were managed together. Smart brands like Mercedes have moved to bridge this gap, with Twitter-led TV commercials for its #YouDrive campaign that ran more like mini-film shorts than traditional 30-second ad breaks. Digital will be used to make traditional media more interactive and traditional media will be used to make digital more surround-sound.Approaching any kind of advertising with ‘buy this now’ messages and focusing solely on the brand will become a thing of the past. Today’s empowered consumers don’t like to be overtly sold to, but informed, entertained and engaged. Winning brands will provide useful tools, become content publishers and create immersive experiences that will transform the very definition of advertising, or even longer term, dare I say it, make the very word a thing of the past.
Phuong Nguyen, head of advertising UK, eBay
Brands will need to work harder than ever in 2014 to counteract waning consumer loyalty and reach the ‘always on’ shopper.With 24-hour shopping and on-demand services becoming the norm, programmatic is fast becoming the go-to route for brands looking to leverage their campaigns in real-time. It allows brands to quickly react to emerging trends, such as the 50 per cent spike in the number of baking items sold on eBay in the UK at the start of last year’s Great British Bake Off compared to the previous month. However, programmatic is a different entity to other buying formats, and marketers looking to capitalise on one-off events like the 2014 World Cup will need to make sure they’ve got the right talent in place to respond quickly as opportunities arise.As ‘banner blindness’ increases, brands will also need to prioritise data-driven campaigns to remain relevant and engaging. Consumers often look to digital for inspiration, so brands that look beyond demographics and use observed insights to target by interests or life stage will be best placed to grow their share of wallet in 2014.Another big opportunity for brands in 2014 is to use online campaigns to drive footfall in-store. House of Fraser’s summer campaign on eBay, for example, produced significant results offline as well as online, including a 14 per cent uplift in intention to buy in-store among shoppers who saw the campaign. With the growth of geo-targeting and mobile, there are several ways online could be working harder in the real world.
Tresilian Segal, head of marketing Northern Europe, Adobe Marketing Cloud
Every marketer should be constantly experimenting: You are never done with your marketing plan and there will never be a finished Digital Marketing Playbook. ‘Set it and forget it’ is a thing of the past. The pace of innovation makes this impossible. Marketers should be constantly adjusting their strategies and constantly experimenting. However, no marketer should be doing this blindly.The emergence of social search optimisation (SSO): Social and search are invading each other’s turf. Facebook and Twitter have added keyword targeting/bidding and Google+ profiles are now part of the algorithm used to rank search results. Marketers should avoid the turf war brewing between the search and social teams by creating a cross-functional team that has both search and social experts on it. Budget now to make a major investment in 2014 in paid social search.Algorithms tackle complexity and big data: The increasing volumes of data available to marketers means that manual approaches to tasks like SEM, personalisation and anomaly detection are increasingly difficult to maintain. This is where algorithms step in.Mobile will be an essential piece of cross-channel marketing strategy: Consumers expect an enjoyable experience when they interact with brands on mobile, whether that’s in a browser or on an app. This means brands must view mobile as an intrinsic part of the overall marketing mix (social, email, search, etc) and ensure that they can deliver a positive experience via mobile.
Josh Graff, director of marketing solutions EMEA, LinkedIn
As media consumption becomes increasingly fragmented and consumers grow even more sceptical about traditional advertising, marketers will have no choice but to put content at the heart of their marketing strategies in 2014. Content marketing has been proven to drive richer engagement, increased customer loyalty and brand advocacy, and, as measurement becomes more sophisticated, we will see its clear impact on sales. However, in the words of Steve Rubel, head of content for Edelman, marketing needs to shift from a ‘message mindset’ to a ‘content mindset’. This requires frequent contact, effective content planning and the right skills to deliver it. As such, expect traditional media agencies to establish in-house content teams or acquire smaller specialised agencies in the New Year. As agencies, media owners and tech platforms battle it out for the industry’s brightest stars, the war for talent in the digital media and technology space will also intensify.Meanwhile, anyone using the phrase ‘this is the year of mobile’ should be put out to pasture. We live in a mobile society. Smartphone penetration is set to reach 75 per cent of the UK population and people are now checking their devices over 150 times per day. If marketers haven’t already started to lead with mobile, their CEOs should feel incredibly nervous. That said, brands must prioritise the user experience in the New Year and ensure their mobile marketing is seamless, unobtrusive and provides some form of value exchange, or risk being ignored altogether.