By Mercedes M. Cardona, Contributing Writer, CMO.com
If 2012 was the official end of the lean years in marketing, 2013 looks like the start of a new cycle of branding developments.
With economies around the globe regaining strength, the advertising and marketing landscape is looking good, even without the Olympics or elections to pull the cart. And while Zenith Optimedia slightly lowered its 2013 forecast for North America when it last updated its ad spending forecasts, that was only because 2012 had turned out better than expected when it made its last forecast in December. And as the Eurozone comes out of its recession, things can only improve, according to Zenith.
With budgets stable, marketers are turning to innovation, rather than just looking for ways to do more with less. Some of the trends predicted at the beginning of this year have been slow-moving, such as the acceptance of the digital wallet. Others, such as the growth in content marketing and online video, are coming along full-bore. So what's in store for the coming six months? CMO.com asked branding and marketing professionals to discuss the trends that will shape their work for the rest of this year.
The annual Digital Newfronts marketplace showed all the signs of a medium that’s coming out of its early days this year. The audiences watching video online are growing, new players are coming into the field, and better ways of measuring audiences and monetizing videos are all contributing to make the medium mature, said Kenneth Parks, chief marketing officer of digital agency DigitasLBi North America.
“The numbers are speaking for themselves: 181.9 million Americans watched 38.8 billion digital content videos in April alone. We’re looking at a $4 billion business that’s expected to reach $9 billion over the next three years,” Parks told CMO.com. This year will see a lot of growth in original digital video from the biggest players in media–such as Conde Nast–so buyers and publishers are now committing their money to the medium, he said.
The Newfronts “were a clear sign a shift is happening. The need for quality is going to drive the future of digital adverting/marketing,”said Marcus Fischer, president and chief strategy officer at agency Carmichael Lynch. The fact that digital players such as AOL and Hulu are turning to TV and movie producers to make original content will give marketers “a more legitimate reason to evaluate where premium-priced advertising dollars are spent,” he told CMO.com.
All digital media are coming together in 2013, including mobile, Web-based, and other channels. Growing technologies, such as responsive Web design, are helping to create cross-platform harmony, said Paul Guyardo, chief marketing officer of DirecTV. For example, responsive Web design gives viewers a consistent experience optimized for any device they use, and marketers get cohesive reporting, he told CMO.com.
“It used to be en vogue for marketers to say that digital was the way of the future. Then it became social, and then mobile. But now our industry is finding ways to marry the online with the offline to the point where ideas live across joined-up experiences and channels,” DigitasLBi’s Parks said.
Twitter’s new TV ad targeting tool is a good example because it lets marketers engage with Twitter users who have seen their ads on TV, “effectively bridging digital, TV, and, given the influx of second -creen behavior, mobile,” he told CMO.com. “Campaigns won’t be about online or offline.”
It never really went away, but thanks to backing from digital media, events and experiences are gaining new ground. Marketers have realized that digital media can help multiply their investments in a single event and turn a local experience into a global effort.
“The reality is that mobile is now deeply rooted in the fabric of the live experience,” said Russell Wallach, president of Live Nation Network, in an interview with CMO.com. “What was once a kitschy alternative to a lighter [experience] has become a true companion at the show and a great opportunity for brands to engage fans while they are in the moment.”
And as mobile marketing continues to boom, the trend is expected to keep picking up speed this year, with marketers integrating opportunities and features, such as QR codes and on-site WiFi, to enable participants to do their own amplification. “A custom branded music experience taking place in one market in front of 1,000 people can be spread globally and garner millions of consumer engagements,” Wallach said. For example, a fan-shared video of the Daft Punk song "Get Lucky" from a performance at a private concert sponsored by HTC has passed 3.5 million views globally–all with HTC branding integrated, he said.
The stir around the recent Cheerios ad featuring a multiracial family underscores what marketers have noticed already: The face of America has changed. The projections released by the U.S. Census Bureau at the end of 2012 showed the country’s white population will peak in 2024 and minority households will eventually become a majority of the population.
Like the Cheerios commercial or J.C. Penney’s signing of lesbian talk-show shot Ellen DeGeneres as its national spokesperson, ethnic and LGBT consumers are increasingly becoming part of the mainstream media plan.
The Census figures have served as a catalyst to shift multicultural marketing from the sidelines to the main stage in 2013, insiders said. With the Census Report in mind, many marketers will start to use “whole market” approach soon, said Dick Thomas, founder and CEO of agency TRIS3CT.
“Rather than simply developing standalone multicultural programs or overlays to general market initiatives, marketers will move ethnic insights into a central role in brand strategies and briefs,” he told CMO.com. “In doing so, the resulting programs will resonate across an increasingly diverse audience.”
It’s no longer about building your brand, but building a brand for you. Personalized branding is remaking marketing into an individual experience, one made in the consumer’s image, thanks to better data and targeting tools.
“The incredible amount of data available to marketers has already contributed to a more tailored user experience. . . whether it’s specialized content, timing, or location, users are increasingly served more relevant, personalized information and services, which will only continue to grow in the next half of 2013,” said Simon Fleming-Wood, chief marketing officer of Pandora. “Consumers expect to have what they want, when they want it, and we’ll see more brands adapting their models to deliver that.”
Retailer loyalty programs are already experimenting with personalizing offers based on transaction history and other data. “You’re going to see some very interesting things” using loyalty programs in months, not years, said Jon Stine, director, retail and consumer products practice, Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group.
There are “multiple conversations” going on about how to apply loyalty programs and what is possible to do, Stine told CMO.com. Additionally, technologies such as near-field communications and recognition offer opportunities in the near future, he said. “There’s huge opportunity in these technologies,” Stine said. “It’s going to happen.”
The mobile wallet is still waiting for a standard that will help it gain the same acceptance among consumers that QR codes won once their standards were clear. But other push technologies are helping mobile media step things up a notch. Meanwhile, search advertising, mobile, and social media are coming together, as seen by the launch of the Facebook Home app for smartphones.
Looking at current trends, it becomes clear that consumers will soon use their smartphones more than their computers to access the Web, said Steve Minichini, president of interactive marketing at media agency TargetCast. At the same time, new mobile ad technologies, such as expandable units, video in units, dynamic animation, and data capture, will help mobile capture more attention from marketers in the latter half of 2013, he told CMO.com.
Location-based technologies, such as geofencing and proximity ad serving, will also play a role by making the ads more meaningful, and that will make a greater percentage of dollars flow toward mobile platform marketing, Minichini said.
“We are starting to see a convergence of social, mobile, and search companies that are creating immersive user gateways to become the entry point from which users do everything,” said Dan Roche, VP of marketing at communications company TalkPoint. And that entry point, as Minichini noted, will most likely be a phone.
Breaking down silos has been a bit like Mark Twain’s comment about the weather: Everyone talks about it, but no one does anything about it. Things could be different in 2013.
Because of the digital and multicultural convergences, marketing departments and agencies are reshuffling the decks to adjust. This could be the year when the long-promised breaking down of silos actually happens. “Working alone or only with those who are part of your team is the wave of the past,” said Andrew Speyer, managing director of Wing, WPP Group’s Hispanic agency. Digital and multicultural marketing units have grown accustomed to collaborating, so they’re already familiar with the model, he told CMO.com. The other parts of the marketing function will likely follow, he said.
“The definition of team will expand to include anyone who can help get you to a better place,” Speyer said. “Teams will be fluid, compensation will have to be, too, and being a collaboration expert will be just as important as expertise in a particular function.”
Your appliances and cars are about to become marketing tools. With more of the gadgetry of daily life now digital, marketers are exploring new opportunities for serving and sponsoring content on places as unexpected as your refrigerator door and your car’s dashboard.
Agencies are already developing media plans, and the cars and appliances are already in the market. Meredith Xcelerated Marketing (MXM), for example, is talking to client Samsung about providing content for the interactive screens on its kitchen appliances and developing ways to serve content on the interactive dashboards on some new car models.
“Every item has the potential to be ‘digitized,’ improving people’s lives in some way, while allowing us to collect minable data for business intelligence and constant product advancement,” said Andy Wasef, head of innovation and technology, North America, at media agency MEC.
The challenge is to think through what content will work on which screens and how to experiment cost-effectively, said Eric Johnson, founder and president of Ignited. “Previously ‘dumb’ objects will become intelligent and help us make better, faster, and more impactful decisions. This opens the door to build new highly connected products and advanced transmedia marketing messages,” said Terry Young, founder and CEO of trend-spotting agency sparks & honey.
Most of the previous trends depend on wrestling with data to create accurate pictures of consumers’ habits and their needs, and marketers are ready to claim victory in the some key battles, such as consumers agreeing to share their information. And now technology suppliers are finding ways to leverage autonomic data capture and big data analytics that are becoming more sophisticated and affordable to a wider range of marketers.
“If I had to place my bets on things that I have to look for, it would be the intersection of autonomic data capture [data from video, social media, smartphones, etc.] and the ability to analyze it in real time and act upon it,” Cisco’s Stine said. “That is the next exciting area: Autonomic data capture with big data analysis and how we can then take that shopper experience to the next level.”
The technology is reaching the point of being able to do this type of analysis, and there could be test and trials of these types of tools this year, he told CMO.com.