Originally published as a contribution to the The Wharton Future of Advertising Program’s Advertising 2020 Project.
‘Time spent with the brand’ will be advertising’s most sought after metric entering 2020 as the current concept of brand value, traditional marketing and retail outlets will have further eroded. With the convergence of TV, computers and the Internet, new century advertising’s bright lights and trumpets will unleash their sophistry in 2020 on the US Presidential election, Europe’s UEFA Cup Final and the Olympic Games. All massive media events enjoyed by billions around the world that will be empowered by the new normal in smarter advertising.
By 2020 we no longer subscribe to the old ‘sales funnel’ approach where consumers hold a large number of brand options and narrow their choices to an eventual decision aided by advertising. Consumers already limit their brand options at the first consideration stage, seeking out input from peers, reviewers, vendors and competitors. Increasingly consumers are delaying purchase decisions until they’re actually in-store or about to hit purchase – that opens up when and what touch points consumers are most open to influence and how to create positive consumer experiences at those points. Ever more powerful will be point of purchase and Near Field Communications (NFC) offers radical potential to push tailored content and brand offers to a customer’s specific location or share social coupons with their friends.
Encouraging customers to interact, manipulate, and engage with the product by proactively taking part in sharing the brand is the Holy Grail for advertising today: Bain & Co. found that the most recommended company in any given category grows 2.5x the category average. To ensure time spent with the brand, advertising needs to develop its social skills to a whole new level to exploit the huge shift in post-sale behavior. Boomers will be center stage for advertisers in Western countries, a hugely powerful consumer segment that has migrated online and adopted technology with alacrity. New mass audiences have also formed, including one billion young digitized middle-class, ‘Gen C’: connected, community-oriented and content-centric consumers for whom digital is second nature and by 2020 they make up 40% of the world’s population.
Consumption patterns will be tied to the exponential increase in social networking threaded throughout our day, mostly using mobile devices. Six billion “Broadcast Braggarts” will be sharing their lifestream offering hyper personalized information from friends, online status, location, preferred communication, hobbies and shopping habits. This will transform social media advertising opportunities with how we work and how we consume. ABI Research estimate over 136 billion apps will be downloaded worldwide by 2017, much of which is currently unverified. This represents a huge opportunity for advertising to enable content creation by inviting ideas from consumers via co-creation, collaboration and crowdsourcing as viral marketing and peer reviews amongst consumers will be essential to entice ‘shareability’.
The real battle for consumers’ time spent with the brand will rage in the home. By 2020 consumers will enjoy over $1.5 trillion of global entertainment using superfast technology with wireless devices the dominant tool for business, entrepreneurship, and Internet access for billions of consumers. Technology will be intimately woven into our lifestream and with prices for ‘handheld’ smartphone technologies dramatically lower, mobile strategies in advertising will optimize the prevalent fast speeds, NFC, QR cards and RFID technologies across a growing multitude of digital interfaces and physical touch points, all seamlessly connected in the cloud.
Global media spend will be more than $1.6 trillion and endless varieties of curated advertising strategies would have evolved with the industry more intertwined. To fund budgets many big brands are piling down Madison Avenue looking for efficiencies they can add to their marketing budgets. Coke plans to strip out $550M of costs to fund future marketing and other major advertisers are following suit. To match the demand for fresh ideas, agency holding companies will devise new structures with their specialist businesses bundled under their main agencies with clients more involved and agencies forced to adopt pay-for-performance models that our archaic system of agencies employing a few creative teams to drum up category busting ideas simply won’t cut.
By harnessing communities across multiple platforms, advertising can create new value pools by placing consumers at the center of the brand experience: 1 in 3 people come to a brand through a personal recommendation. Advertising needs to create demand by being harbingers of change; whether online, mobile or televised, the experiences we have with advertising need to undergo big changes and we have the mind-set, skills and next-generation media to engage (4Screen) consumers who have more power than ever. Take 3D, it will be super efficient, enhancing the immediacy of the pictures and offering controls that allow the viewer to change their viewpoint or zoom in and out – watching from home will offer an experience never thought possible. And we’ve hardly seen the potential of technology to customize outdoor advertising and sponsors’ localized messages aimed at different segments and market sectors simultaneously.
Four consumer trends will have direct impact: ‘Nomad,’ the mobility of people to move to different places creating multiple opportunities for localized brand engagement. ‘Downsizing,’ the growing trend for calorific control and quantity, such as dosing, has diverse implications for interconnected advertising. ‘Back to the Farm’ speaks for our enchantment with all things green and will force big brands to open deeper two-way conversations with consumers as witnessed with Nestle and it’s poorly handled Palm Water debacle. Finally, ‘Bring it Home’ will have major implications for consumers’ time spent with the brand as a direct result of the ‘debtcade’ having forced billions of people back to their homes for entertainment and food – battle for the lounge.
In the battle for the lounge, advertising is facing the challenge of change by the click and becoming more interconnected. New century advertising must not try and compete as technology companies, or as social networks, or as mobile providers. Advertisers must compete as content creators with an understanding of how to deliver valuable content to the right audience at the right time, in the right place by deploying social media and mobile technologies. What does advertising need to do now for this future: be useful, enable sharing, be entertaining, provide knowledge, enable connections, enhance the experience, encourage community building and ultimately solve how to entice consumers to pay for their social media!