It is expected that media industry commentators will annually nail their colours to the mast by committing themselves to predicting the year’s trends. (Fortunately, it is seldom that they are required to look back once the 12 months have passed, and assess the accuracy of their prognostications!), says Britta Reid.
Writing in the second half of January means that many forecasts and predictions have already been published, so I have attempted to summarise my thoughts into four main trends and indicate how I think they will impact on 2015.
These main trends are not new but I believe that they will be the most influential this year. The first trend is Doing More with Less. Virtually everybody I speak to in the media industry, regardless from which side of the media fence they come, acknowledge the toughness of last year. This year, 2015, is also likely to be particularly constrained in terms of investment. This will mean pressure on both media agencies and media owners to deliver exceptional value to clients. This is also likely to drive agency reviews in the search for procurement driven efficiencies. Clients will become more amenable to programmatic buying, increasing the proportion of budget allocated to this approach.
But the drive to do ‘more with less’ will not only be expressed in terms of simple rand savings. The challenge will be to ensure that all the elements of the marketing plan are stitched together in the most effective way. While the client may be the rightful driver of this integration, it will require the willingness of the suppliers to collaborate in a meaningful way. The erasure of the so-called ‘line’ (which separated BTL and ATL) is necessary to deliver both efficiency and effectiveness. It will mean agencies will work to integrate all disciplines and that they will value staff that are comfortable working across disciplines.
Secondly Digital Development continues unabated. While the United Kingdom has reached the point where digital investment outstrips that of television, South African growth is still inhibited by the high cost of broadband and access limitations. Nevertheless the challenge of its effective and integrated use will be a major focus of the year. The exploration of new formats and the intelligent integration of social media will be key.
The year of mobile has been touted for some years but it is likely to come to the fore in 2015, as more mid range consumers acquire smartphones. Mobile offers new opportunities for creativity and personalised communication, as well as enhanced contextualised communication in terms of location and time.
Thirdly the Importance of Content continues. It has been in vogue for a while but the emphasis is now on content that is not only relevant, resonates with and engages the consumer but also actually drives sales. In the quest to produce this, media agencies will need to expand their talent pools to embrace new kinds of storytellers and to ensure that they have the people who can authentically communicate with the average South African consumer. (Of course, the search for this kind of talent will also be driven by the impending enforcement of the amended BEE codes of good practice.) The importance of content could also lead to the development of some interesting partnerships e.g. custom publishers are skilful producers of engaging content that sells. Media agencies could do well to tap into their expertise.
Another demonstration of the power of content is likely to be found in the performance of cinema this year. The line–up for this year is formidable and should translate into great box office returns. Already this year, Clint Eastwood’s movie, American Sniper, has shattered box office records.
The fourth trend will be the Development of New Data Solutions. After decades of South African Audience Research Foundation (Saarf) led data, the media owners, who fund the data, have begun to take their destinies into their own hands and attempt to provide the industry with objective and world class measurement solutions. 2015 is the year when the marketers and media agencies have to come to an accord with the media owners on this issue. The challenge of doing more with less will colour these endeavours, and while the ultimate delivery will be improved measurement, this may have to be achieved in a phased manner.
It is not going to an easy year. It is going to require fortitude and innovation to succeed.
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