In a recent conversation with a chief technology officer, he asserted all digital technology changes in his organisation were being led by IT and not by marketing. It made me wonder: How long a marketing function like this could survive?
Native advertising, innovation, engagement - this year was full of buzzwords and acronyms, so it’s not surprising key catchphrases for 2016 were the subject of heated debate at this year’s IAB/PricewaterhouseCoopers event, Foggy classes or crystal ball.
“What is a buzzword and why is our industry so obsessed with them?” ROI agency ZenithOptimedia, head of digital, Ros Allison asked attendees at the event.
“Maybe it’s because we like the shininess of new technology and that feeling of self-importance. Or perhaps it is because we work in an incredibly important, complex and ever-changing market, and we feel we have a dynamic and ever-changing marketplace and we want to add value to the mix.”
The ad blocking debate
For director of marketing and business insights at AMEX, Ciaran Norris, content blocking and ad blocking will be hot on the 2016 agenda.
“The word we’re going to be sick of hearing is ad blocking,” he claimed. “There are already more than 2.2 million pieces of content online about Apple and ad blocking.”
With ad blocking already well and truly in full swing, consumers can now block content creatively using apps that can not only impact advertising, but also unwanted images.
“There’s even an app that replaces any pictures of Tony Abbott with pictures of a cute kitten,” Norris joked. “Native ads, videos and any combination of content - if somebody can write the piece of code, then they can find a way to block it. This isn’t going away.”
But Allison disagreed, saying the focus for 2016 should be based on the solutions, rather than the problems.
“Please don’t let ad blocking be an issue in 2016,” Allison said. “Yes, we have ad blocking software installed on our systems, but there are solutions around it. We do need to use better content and publishers need to be careful about how many ads they’re posting to impact the experience. We also need to help users understand that value equation and impression exchange.”
It’s all about viewability
According to A/NZ managing director of digital agency Integral Ad Science, James Diamond, 2016 will be all about viewability from an awareness point of view.
“This year has been all about education, understanding the metrics, starting to optimise. The reason why it is going to be a buzzword next year is because agencies will be ready to really have the conversation,” he said. “Publishers have also been hard at work for measuring viewability and will also be more ready to talk next year.”
Allison also sees viewability as a big topic for next year.
“2016 will really be the year that we have a collective mindset on viewability and what it will mean for our budgets and our clients,” she said. “There’s a lot of work we need to do in terms of methodologies and standards to bring the market up to speed on viewability as a comprehensive standard across everything we do.
“But it can’t be a buzzword, because it needs to be a standard, not something shiny and new that we’re all going to think about and talk about next year.”
We already get engagement, now what?
For Tyler Greer, APAC head of strategy at digital media and advertising company Exponential, the new year will firmly rotate around engagement.
“A study came out this year in the US that revealed the fifth-highest stress in people’s lives is advertising overload,” he said. “We’re overwhelming the world with advertising in every way we can. In a world of infinite choice and possibilities, we need to find better ways to have a real impact.”
As a result, Greer said engagement as a buzzword is going to become ever more important.
“That’s because we’re finally going to understand what it means, and clarify its scope, which I think is the connection between the brand and audience, via a media channel, which is expressed by time spent together,” he explained. “It’s the ability to give the audience something that is interesting, compelling and relevant and having them spend time with it.”
But while engagement has been a buzzword from time to time, Allison noted it tends to only emerge when there’s a discussion around clicks and impressions.
“I hate the word the word consumer,” she continued. “We’ve got to stop thinking about these broad things out there as being consumers, when really, they’re people. We’ve got to start thinking about having engaging conversations with people, rather than sending out consumer messages.
“I don’t think having the concept of consumer as a buzzword for 2016 would be fundamentally flawed.”
Managing director of ad tech company Cadreon, Jessica White, claimed a new form of programmatic will head the catchphrase frenzy of 2016.
“Programmatic space is still Peter Pan land,” she said. “We’re still grasping at the possibility that this is just a passing thing and we’re all planning on doing something else when we grow up. But while programmatic will still be around, in a few years’ time it won’t be what it is today.”
In a world of programmatic and automation, White predicted the rise of ‘programmation,’ a convergence of biddable trading, data-driven science, creative and trading principles all rolled into one.
“This is coming about because of a certain type of person, or superpersons, which I call destruptors,” she said. “In this brave new world, nerds are our superheros and data and technology are our weapons.”
Getting it together
For Allison, 2016 is all about getting it together, connectedness and pulling down the silos.
“It will be less about the infrastructure, the pipes and technology that services it, and a lot more about how we take the potential of programmatic and look more broadly at the total picture, how we talk to people individually at an impression level,” she said.
“It’s about taking all the buzzwords we’ve been obsessed about for the last few years and really getting it together. It's about integration and being forward thinking.”
But CEO of research and strategy company, Pollinate, Howard Parry-Husbands, had a more cynical view of the year ahead.
“It’s going to be a year of madness and mayhem and to be honest, it’s all just going to go to shit,” he claimed. “There’s a vast amount of shit nobody is watching anyway, and the volume of messages is overwhelming audiences. Moving forward, we’ll need to focus on innovation, strategists and strategic planning.”