Every New Year is inevitably accompanied by a slew of horoscopes, resolutions and predictions. Kantar has published their “2019 Media Predictions” from their experts around the globe, focusing “not on grand, airy-fairy concepts, but useful, practical ideas that will help marketers and their agencies to tackle media and effectiveness measurement challenges head on, without fear.”
The first prediction is that “Analytics and Artificial Intelligence Will Finally Bridge the ROI Divide”. Kantar’s Getting Media Right, 2018 report showed the primary struggle for advertisers globally is measuring ROI, with understanding omni-channel behaviour and optimising media investment close thereafter. Advancements in data management systems and analytics will help to solve the offline/online conversion dilemma. AI/Machine Learning will significantly improve the modelling process in terms of speed, number of solutions and validation.
The second prediction, “Brands Raise Their Voice”, posits that the growth in connected audio devices (smart speakers, connected in-car entertainment) and formats (podcasts, voice search, voice assistants) offers brands new communication opportunities and challenges. On a basic level, the selection of a voice, or voices becomes much more significant, as do audio branding devices such as sonic logos, taglines and mnemonics. Smart speakers and voice retail create new branded search and content opportunities, as well as improved targeting based on audiences’ demographic and voice search behaviour.
Thirdly Kantar forecasts that Western marketers will turn to China to learn about “Building Trust And Interactive Experiences On Social Media”. Social media usage is vast in China with paid and earned brand usage thriving: there are more than 500,000 product-related posts every minute on the social media site, Red. Investment in influencer and celebrity partnerships continues to increase, but measuring ROI is a challenge given the many walled garden platforms. Fortunately, new solutions are emerging: a Kantar Media CIC partnership uses blockchain, and allows users to become the quality controllers, building trust when it comes to how many fans an influencer has, and how many of them read, engage and interact with them. AI can learn cognitive functions to develop a human personality to interact with other social media users. Microsoft’s Xiaobing is, a popular virtual social media character able to interact on WeChat and, apparently, even write poetry, children’s books and songs!
The fourth prognostication is: “Brands Build Exponential Experiences”. Kantar’s “Connect” database, comprising over 350,000 touchpoint evaluations, reveals that experiential brand moments contribute up to nearly 50% of brand desirability, whilst paid media contributes around 25% of the overall success in building long-term brand equity. Thus, as media channels like TV, radio and social media evolve into the internet of everything – one vast experience network – media managers will be forced to create an integrated experience across all the touchpoints consumers interact with. Media managers will have to focus on consumers, not channels.
The Unstereotype Alliance (a UN Women convened initiative across business, technology and creative industries to tackle stereotypes perpetuated through advertising and content) committed itself to significant change by 2020. It is not surprising, then, that Kantar predicts that “Gender Targeting Gets Real” this year. With women not relating to many of the ads they see and progressive male role models rare, Kantar foresees a thirst for knowledge about how to address these media and creative challenges; ultimately more advertisers will turn to statement campaigns such as the ground breaking Always #LikeAGirl and Axe #isitokforguy. Winning marketers will establish progressiveness measurement systems to “benchmark themselves and drive institutional change”. Of course, gender is only the first step in tackling issues of wider inclusion and diversity.
With “Here Comes Amazon!” Kantar heralds the demise of the duopoly of digital ad revenue. According to the 2018 BrandZ™Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands, Amazon grew its brand value by 2,228%, significantly ahead of 152% achieved overall. Amazon has rapidly evolved from an e-commerce channel to a powerful medium for content consumption for millions of consumers across multiple platforms like Amazon Prime Video, Kindle, and Fire TV. Advertisers are now embracing Amazon as a marketing vehicle for branding. It has large engaged audiences, but more importantly it has the advantage over Google and Facebook, in being able to link on-platform behaviours (like purchases, search, and content consumption) back to the advertising campaign.
Kantar foresees the further evolution of video ads with the pronouncement “The Video Saga Moves On”, arguing that consumers expect an authenticity in video. Snap and Instagram story provide brands with the opportunity to entertain consumers in a more personal way; technology has allowed consumers to interact with video – AdReaction2017 showed that 27% of GenZ like to take decisions about the ending or the characters in ads. Vertical video takes advantage of the full mobile screen; augmented reality facilitates testing pain. The growth ad-free platforms such as Netflix and ad-free Hulu, means brand integrations and sponsorships could be a lifeline, but they need to connect on an emotional level with consumers.
But, reassuringly, it is also “Back To The…Big Screen”: with the internet now being part of the TV and video ecosystem, consumers turn to the best available screen for their TV and video viewing. Norway measures all TV and video content, in-home and out of home, and shows that 40+ audiences aged still watch more than 95% of their overall viewing on a TV set. Amongst 2-9 years olds, viewing on tablets accounts for 7% of their consumption, whilst 9% of 20-29 year olds’ viewing occurs on a PC or Mac. Netflix content is predominantly watched on the big screen, whilst YouTube content watched in the home is predominantly watched on PCs, tablets and smart-phones.
Of course, “Artificial Intelligence Will Drive Media Targeting”: the application of AI will significantly affect predictive analytics, advanced marketing automation, and ad targeting, accelerating media decision-making. AI will allow advertisers to design highly tailored marketing campaigns that will be driven by the probability of an individual to convert, at a specific price point, through determined channels. Programmatic systems (DMPs) will be able to quickly run through historical attitudinal and behavioural data to determine which ads perform best for different types of people throughout the consumer journey.
Two-thirds of multinational brands plan to increase their spending on influencer marketing in the next year according to the WFA, but Branded Influencer Fatigue (BIF) is a threat. Kantar predicts that, in order to “Influence With Confidence” brands will increase their share of investment in micro-influencers – experts in a niche topic in a world of diversity, with lower individual reach but with higher credibility.
The penultimate prediction is that “Targeting With Purpose Is The Key To Building Strong Brands”: brands will embrace more sophisticated data sources for smarter targeting, combined with digital creativity. Hyper-targeting gives way to attitudinal and contextual targeting. In Australia, Campbell’s created 1,700 variations of a single video for YouTube, targeting audiences based on keyword searches e.g. users searching for Beyoncé’s ‘Single Ladies’ were asked if they needed ‘dinner for one’. Trust and privacy concerns, together with GDPR means that data is no longer as freely available.
The final prognostication is that there will be “A New Reality For Marketers”: although recent Kantar research showed that only 24% of marketers see AR as a must-have, the company predicts that brands will start to explore and understand their role in brand building. Ikea uses AR and VR to allow customers to visualise furniture in their home; linked to e-commerce this then offers a truly end-to-end experience. Thomas Cook are using in-store headsets to allow customers to experience destinations whilst many fashion, beauty and home brands use AR to allow consumers to ‘try’ their products.
Whilst the time-frame of some of these predictions may still be a couple of years off in South Africa, the Kantar document is well worth a read: download the full report here.
Having spent some decades working in the media agencies, Britta Reid now relishes the opportunity to take an independent perspective on the South African media world, especially during this time of radical research transformation.