What next for the media industry? 2017 revealed
In the second of two parts, media leaders reflect on the year gone by - and offer their thoughts on what 2017 will have in store
Views from: Thinkbox | Radiocentre | IAB | News UK | Quantcast | InSkin | Sky Media | Undertone | Media iQ | RadiumOne | Magnetic | AOL UK | DCM | Read part one here
THINK DIFFERENTLY ABOUT RADIO
Mark Barber, planning director, Radiocentre
Will 2017 be the year that brands finally take audio seriously? The speech-controlled Amazon Echo, launched in the UK this autumn, is predicted by many to be the best selling technology gift this Christmas. If you're unfamiliar with it, Echo is powered by a voice assistant called Alexa which allows you to request information, services, and entertainment hands-free. It's an impressive piece of kit which opens up a world of audio possibilities in your mind.
Echo could be the catalyst that boosts voice-activation across all devices to critical mass. The paradigm shift being that in the absence of a screen Alexa can only respond to requests using audio. Now imagine a near future when search is both triggered and fulfilled with audio: how does your brand sound on Google?
But this isn't just about coping with technological disruption. In How Brands Grow Byron Sharp describes the value of distinctive brand assets for building mental availability. Thinkbox research highlights the importance of sound in attracting attention to and optimising effectiveness of TV commercials. Radiocentre studies demonstrate the benefits for brands in using music and other audio assets consistently in advertising.
Distinctive audio branding may come to define successful businesses as audio-driven technology prospers but forward-thinking advertisers can gain advantage now. Propelled by those that do, 2017 could be the year that radio comes of age as a strategic brand-building medium.
A RETURN TO QUALITY MEDIA
Catherine Newman, chief marketing officer, The Times and Sunday Times
2017 is going to see a return to quality media for brand advertisers. With doubts setting in around fake news, questionable metrics from some social media platforms and wide-spread click-fraud, the attractions of high-quality media owners focused around original, unique content will become apparent.
A brand's campaign is only as good as the media on which it is hosted and marketers are increasingly realising that some aspects of modern media come with significant compromises. Brands want to align their campaigns with content and platforms that reflect their own ethos - authentic, high-quality, and trusted.
Fake news is a broader societal issue and one that needs to be dealt with - in the scope of the advertising world, however, it is simply a symptom of a market that's for too long been drawn towards high-volumes of cheap traffic.
In the longer term I believe that brands, agencies and consumers will recognise and appreciate media owners with a loyal, engaged, high-quality audience that has a real relationship with the brand.
VIEWABILITY DEBATE MATURES
Steve Doyle, chief commercial officer, InSkin Media
As 2017 rolls around the subject of measurement will continue to be a hotbed of debate amongst digital advertising types. The advent of all this wonderful technology gives so much more control and understanding to an advertiser, and while this means we have a lot more data and knowledge about the ecosystem we operate in, its variety lends to inconsistent measurement methodologies and discrepancies.
Consistent measurement, of the right metrics, across devices and media executions will become an even tougher challenge. JICWEBS has been instrumental this year in pushing a multi-trade body initiative on viewability, but bigger, braver decisions by trade bodies are needed, and 2017 should be their moment to establish meaningful, robust standards.
Beyond viewability, we've seen huge interest this year in our project around visual engagement, which cited that ads need to be in view for 14 seconds to be seen. Next year, the viewability debate will mature as part of the wider conversation around attention-based metrics, with discussion around how long an ad is viewable becoming more important than whether it only met the current thresholds.
While my LinkedIn feed is littered with people saying "CTR isn't important we know that but look at this case study (with great CTR's)", 2017 is the year that this mentality will inevitably change, lest its architects find themselves severely lagging behind the pace of the measurement debate.
M&A ACTIVITY SET TO RISE
Rob Garber, managing director EMEA, Undertone
2017 will see a continued rise of consolidation within the martech/adtech space. Those who will succeed will most likely do so through merging with or acquiring existing other experts in the field.
We've already seen this recently with the likes of Adobe (TubeMogul) and Accenture (Karmarama) who are buying creative/advertising agencies - and this is just the start of that activity over the coming months. Creating an established unit, through which every aspect of advertising can be covered to a high standard, will be key to success next year.
This should be good news for marketers and media agencies.
Being inundated with a plethora of potential partners offering unique capabilities, content or audiences can create confusion and can be time consuming. The benefit of consolidation will mean that marketers will have a smaller, more comprehensive set of media and tech partners to work with, focused on longer-term roadmaps and better aligned to marketers' needs; which in turn will lead to better business results and an improved consumer experience.
KEEPING FRAUDSTERS IN CHECK
Craig Tuck, managing director UK, RadiumOne
Blue chip brands and leading agencies have spoken out in 2016 about their frustrations and expectations around the major issue of ad fraud. Significant progress is being made by the industry across all parts of the supply chain to improve the situation, led by JICWEBS, their independent auditors, and ad verification vendors like I.A.S, MOAT and DoubleVerify.
Bots are sophisticated networks of non-human actions carried out without a brand or user's knowledge. However, the human action of content sharing cannot be falsified. In 2017 we will see fraudsters kept in check by deploying smarter tracking that ensures human connections are all that matter.
Meanwhile, the creative industry will emerge stronger and more intelligent by harnessing the power of data. Programmatic enables marketers to connect the dots between different forms of consumer behaviour so the end result of joining this up with better, high quality creative will be help improve consumers' experience with online ads and make the process far more efficient and effective for advertisers.
This improvement is something brands, agencies, tech businesses and, most importantly, consumers will all benefit from in 2017.
Stuart Flint, managing director, AOL UK
In the past, most technology platforms in the ad ecosystem have been developed as advertiser-first. However, in 2016 we saw stronger tools emerge for publishers, giving them more flexible platform technologies, more consumer-centric formats and advanced targeting capabilities. This has helped them move from being largely direct response-focused. Now, they can deliver on the KPIs that advertisers want.
Header bidding and automated price floor optimisation (PFO) have both become more prevalent in the last 12-18 months, helping publishers boost their own yield through programmatic. In 2017, technology platforms will become ever more important in solving the monetisation piece for publishers as they continue to improve how to actually get paid fairer prices for their own content in the coming year.
Meanwhile, data will continue to mature. Brands and publishers have stepped up to improve consumer touch points by creating quality ads and content that audiences find valuable, personal and relevant. This is a trend that will continue as creatives will move more quickly to fully embrace data as a guiding force to develop concepts that directly align with the value audiences seek in their content.
New technologies will reshape video, mobile advancements will unlock personal touch points, and an emphasis on the consumer will drive the industry forward.
SAY NO TO CRAP CONTENT
Alex Packham, Founder & CEO, ASTP
The winds of change have swept across the social world yet again. As 2016 draws to a close, the winners and losers of the year have made one thing very clear - it is the end of crap content.
For businesses, this means the demise of the 2013 ideology that online success can come with little investment, that tweeting can be left to office juniors, and that social calendars should be filled up with everything and anything.
Decreasing returns on social channels isn't the only sign that a new content approach is needed in 2017: top social media channels are waving big red flags too...
Earlier this year Instagram updated its news feed algorithm to one similar to Facebook's, placing popular posts at the top of its feed. This was a brave decision as a lack of linear content had the potential to destroy the 'storytelling' platform.
In a similar move, Zuckerberg vowed to end fake news on Facebook, despite a top-down entity deciding what people should believe seeming extremely unappealing to its users.
Why did these channels risk so much to ensure good content?
Unfortunately, Twitter showed us why.
Twitter's Achilles heel is that is it built around real-time engagement, meaning its algorithm update like those above could only be slight. This means it is still battling to rid spam and poor-quality content from the 350,000 tweets posted every minute on the site, resulting in declining engagement and a mere 3% year-on-year rise in accounts.
Key takeaway: the days benefiting from 'follow for follow', link-farming and now crap content, are well and truly over.
Mediatel operate two essential services for the OOH industry. SPACE is a collaboration between IPAO and Outsmart and is the most comprehensive and up-to-date list of inventory in the UK. The RouteAPI is a SaaS solution that enables easy integration of Route audience data into client's systems. See mediatel.co.uk for more information.