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What next for the media industry? 2016 revealed - Part 2

18 Dec 2015 
What next for the media industry? 2016 revealed - Part 2

In the second of Mediatel's two prediction specials, ISBA, Videology, Starcom, MEC, dunnhumby, iProspect, Newsworks and Xaxis tell us what they think 2016 will have in store. Read the first part here.

Bob Wootton small

Bob Wootton, director of media and advertising, ISBA

Speaking at a conference recently, I posited the idea that after waiting patiently for years, the 'year of mobile' had actually passed us by in 2014. That was when WEVE was at its zenith, with the superlatively energetic Nigel Clarkson at its helm.

But WEVE has unravelled (sorry), Clarkson's moved on and adblocking is enabling millions to prevent advertisers from wasting their costly bandwidth and precious battery life. Pricked by this, the mobile operators are remembering that they're in the bigtime telephony and data business, not the marginal ad revenue game and are doing deals with adblockers like Shine (who call advertising 'pollution').

So although it's estimated that over 50% of all online activity will be on mobile devices next year, I'm still not convinced that we need to worry too much about mobile as an ad channel going forwards. Especially as adblockers will surely find ways of working in-app.

Meanwhile, telly goes from strength to strength but the storm clouds on the far horizon aren't clearing. The big question is whether young people's conspicuously different viewing behaviours stay with them as they age, partner up, settle down, have kids, climb greasy poles and veg out. Sometimes, people just don't want to consume media as actively as online demands they do.

If they do, we're going to see a downturn in telly's share of the cake, probably around 2018. If not, it still has a long life of rude health in prospect.

Print continues to struggle, with some now predicting the demise of paper papers within a few years. I don't think magazines will go the same way because they're often a completely different experience. Nor are they three feet high and wide when you try and read them on increasingly crowded public transport.

(This reminds me of my recommendation to The Independent's founders that they should launch their paper as a tabloid, which lost my agency the pitch and just goes to show that it's not always best even if you're proved right eventually).

Out of home is doing well. It doesn't have to worry about editorial though it does have to watch out for increasingly invasive legislation, for example on food, drink, CO2 emissions, financial services disclaimers gambling. Pretty much everything the nannies want to close down.

But investment in digital panels continues apace and as it scales so it yields big returns for the media owners.

Radio's the quiet one, pretty much owned by two companies, one of which is as much about shopwindowing the talent and events it owns or manages as making a turn by selling airtime. Listenership is stable, online streaming has found only a small niche and has yet to make a profit and now faces growing questions about the sustainability of its business model.

Cinema's fortunes closely follow the strength and appeal of the movies it has to exhibit, and with Marvel churning out several CGI blockbusters every year, that's quite assured.

And then there's the online thingy, where the five horsemen of the adpocalypse are having a recruitment drive... Or will some interpretation of 'freewalling' help save the day?

Rich Astley

Rich Astley, UK managing director, Videology

2016 is going to be a seminal year for the TV business in the UK. I think we'll see some products launch that will permanently change the game for the way TV is bought and sold.

We've seen phase one of BARB/Nielsen's Project Dovetail complete in 2015 with total hours consumption by platform/device now reported. That in itself has been interesting in that we now have a third party validated view of the magnitude of non-linear viewing by device.

But it's a baby step, in that we don't yet have a true understanding of the reach and frequency overlap of audiences across devices.

Is IP connected app viewing or STB VOD additive to TV consumption, or are we seeing erosion of core audiences from the linear stream? And if so, what does that mean for the way audiences are traded in future as the digital winners and losers emerge.

As Project Dovetail moves from device based to audience based measurement we'll start to unlock some of the answers. But I also think we'll see new challengers to the BARB throne as STB datasets start to link to digital datasets at scale. WPP's investment in comScore/Rentrak is a signal of the ensuing battle that will no doubt play out over the next few years.

Heather Dansie

Heather Dansie, associate research director, Starcom MediaVest Group

As SMG London look ahead to 2016, we anticipate five trends in media and culture that could deliver brands a competitive edge.

The expectations of superfast development have crept out from the computer labs of technology giants and academic institutions and into the everyday. As processing speeds continue to impact our pace of life we increasingly adopt an attitude of an unequal time. Sometimes our favourite brands are those we spend the least amount of time with.

Consider Uber's seamless and almost invisible experience which builds such strong customer loyalty. This has a huge impact on e-commerce where we see future media as the market place, a medium where one simply clicks an ad to buy. And yet simultaneously we spend more time and more money on experiences that can fully engage us.

The rise of eSports in the UK has taken the world by storm, a new experiential and media moment with incredible new sponsorship opportunities.

In the social media landscape we see an evolution of chameleon communities - where diverse niche communities fuel a creative "copyleft" culture which fuels trends and fashions.

Social media has also provided the platform for vocal activism on the causes people really care about and with many major topics on the horizon in 2016 we believe smart brands can be involved in these powerful conversations. It will be no doubt a surprising, exciting and unpredictable year.

Carl Fremont

Carl Fremont, global chief digital officer, MEC

We live in a world where digital has profoundly changed the ways in which consumers explore, discover, buy and engage with products and services as well as with each other, transcending traditional channel boundaries. This transformation will continue in 2016 and beyond.

Virtual and augmented reality are poised to be the next big thing to transform brand experiences. As major players like Facebook, Google and Microsoft continue to invest heavily in VR and AR technology, we will soon see public perception shift from gimmick to game changer. VR, when the content is done right, can offer consumers immersive brand experiences - through their mobile phones.

The biggest driver of change remains mobile devices. They have the most profound impact on everything we do. Mobile has among so many other things also transformed our shopping experiences; giving the consumers unprecedented power. That means that brands must have a mobility strategy to stay relevant.

For that reason, content creation and rich user experiences created responsively for multiple mobile devices, should be on the top of marketers to-do list for 2016. All content must be derived from consumer and market insights, backed by clear brand KPIs. Brand content can only be effective if the right audience engages and creates impactful business outcomes.

The challenge is staying ahead of technology and your consumers' rapidly changing expectations. Embrace new technologies, be innovative - and use data to inform your audience approach.

Naomi Kasolowsky

Naomi Kasolowsky, managing director of customer strategy, dunnhumby

This was a bumper year for loyalty programme launches and trials, with everyone from ASOS to M&S taking the plunge. These programme entrants typically combined brand new features with the familiar and proven functions of traditional loyalty schemes.

As a result, we can expect 2016 to be characterised by further innovation. This is likely to include increased collaboration between businesses and brands that share synergies. The Starwood Preferred Guest and Delta partnership, Crossover Rewards, is a good example, with each brand retaining its own loyalty scheme, while offering additional value and an enhanced experience or shopping mission through the partnership.

Likewise, there will be efforts to offer more immediate value. Shorter waiting times, such as those offered by Amazon Prime, greater ease, through integration with mobile wallets, and expert advice will be key areas to watch.

The implementation of these innovations will depend on controlling costs, with the ability to set investment levels likely to be central to programmes that evolve or launch in 2016. Many newer loyalty programmes are achieving this by providing personalised deals or offers on a 'pick your own' basis, instead of an explicit currency.

Alistair Dent iProspect

Alistair Dent, head of product at iProspect UK

2016 will be the most exciting year ever in media. Advances in technology for buying and measurement will let us finally make big strides in areas we've been struggling with for a long time.

More TV channels are offering addressable television ads, letting us buy specific population segments based on data, not geography. We'll even be able to track sales back to matching households, and measure TV as a real performance channel.

As users move across channels and devices we're getting traction with true cross device tracking now, and 2016 will see it become the default for advertisers. Consumer path analysis won't just restart when a user switches devices any more, but we'll be able to really learn how users interact with our brands and what sort of contact is influential at different touch-points.

Those touch-points will be so dependent on content as ad blockers fuel an increase in impactful content marketing. We'll find that a deep understanding of content and influence become a huge part of every media strategist's role: sharing, social, conversation, reading and watching behaviour will all be key data points to help prompt creative inspiration as we talk to customers. Expect to analyse formats, topics, sentiments and more as strategies are formulated.

All that content will be delivered in a truly personalised way. 2016 will see real traction in one of the biggest 2015 trends: big data analysis. A data management platform will stop being a luxury and become a necessity, and require technology and analysts who know how to take those big trends, learn insights, and apply them in the right way to the right people. Signal based marketing will deliver that unique experience to each user.

Naomi Kasolowsky

Vanessa Clifford, deputy chief executive, Newsworks

In 2016 the importance of trust and context will become more important than ever before. In a world of almost limitless choice of content, people are drawn to content from providers they know and trust.

For people (read non-media folk) there is no such thing as traditional and digital any-more. The content they consume is no longer synonymous with the platform or device on which it is consumed or read, but with the brands that deliver it.

These changes have affected all media, but newspapers more than most and they have navigated these tricky waters rather well. They've embraced not just new platforms as they emerge, but data and analytics which sit at the heart of every newsroom, driving content and conversations, leading to growth and a combined reach across platforms of more than 46 million people each month as 2015 draws to a close - a number that will continue to grow in 2016.

As Alan Rusbridger said on stepping down as Guardian editor: "We distribute our journalism across multiple channels, platforms and devices, including live discussion and debate. We're on the iWatch; we're in bed with Facebook; we're still in the corner shop."

2016 will be the year we finally stop talking about digital media as a separate entity - hopefully!

Alistair Dent iProspect

Anand Siddiqui, UK director of insight & audience, Xaxis

2016 is the year that audience will really start to become a pivotal focus for brands. More brands will recognise audience data as being of strategic importance, and there will be less reliance on the commoditised off the shelf data that is available from the open market. The focus will shift towards a brand's own core definitions of their customers, based on first party/known/declared data within data management platforms (DMPs).

Additional "high quality real-time" audience data will be taken to augment and increase relevancy of such assets, with "look-a-like" modelling based from those data sets used to power relevant incremental reach and acquisition. Audience will ultimately be the marketer's currency for digital advertising, aligning with all other marketing and unifying activities across channels.

Concurrently, I think that the industry will stop talking about the challenges of big data and just get on with delivering. Big data has become a convenient catch all excuse not to move forwards due to significant investment in technology and people. However, cloud-based processing solutions have democratised the technology to a point where it's now affordable and accessible for most businesses.

Analytical thinking will become a core skill as the focus grows on generating actionable insights and measurement.

Richard Waring

Richard Waring, Research Exchange

Based on what we have seen and experienced in recent months, I believe 2016 will be the year of the connection economy. By this I mean an increasing number of connections between businesses will be made in an online environment, in one centralised place. The connection economy will mean that interactions can be made more conveniently, and, more importantly, more quickly.

To those who may say that a connected economy seems far-fetched, I would say take a look at Uber. Uber is the largest taxi company in the UK, yet it owns no taxis and is operated purely by making a connection via the internet. The same can be said for AirBnB; the company has the largest number of rooms in one place and connects customers to them, however owns no rooms itself.

Connected platforms for business are thriving, enabling faster and better interactions to occur, and this is something that is only going to grow in 2016. Traditional products and services of every kind need to find relevance in today's modern society or rapidly become replaced. Success will look very different in 2016 than it did in the past, and connecting brilliance will be a part of this.

Read part one here.

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