Judy Yeh, Global Media Director, Mars Inc
Laurent Larguinat, Director, Mars Marketing Lab, Mars Inc
The delivery, interaction and measurement of advertising to consumers will significantly shift with technology upgrades over the next eight years– enabling an unprecedented opportunity to drive increased relevance within marketing plans.
One of the most significant consumer trends that will emerge over the next few years and be fully realized by 2020 is that consumers will be constantly connected to multiple devices and to each other, allowing for seamless interactions and the ability to control, purchase or affect an exponential number of things, people and environments remotely. Convergence of technology and cheap access to it means consumers are always plugged in (albeit through a lack of physical plugs).
Consumers will rely less on buttons and instead on voice and movement to control their environment and device, enabling an even more seamless user experience that leads to more time spent with these devices. Technology like Near Field Communication (NFC) will reach critical mass, meaning devices can easily interact with other devices, can be used as a quick payment method or as a point of entry into other content delivered via out of home or in-store displays (current examples of NFC applications include prepaid toll way passes in cars and Google Wallet).
Instant gratification will be critical. Most consumers will expect an immediate opportunity to purchase and if not secure additional content. Retail environments and advertising will converge and marketers must consider how a consumer’s expectations will have changed when evaluating distribution channels, messaging and in-store experiences. In order to prepare for the future now, marketers should consider test and learn opportunities within emerging technology that leverage NFC technology for purchase or additional content. It is important to leverage increasingly nimble technology to quickly obtain results and in turn test, learn and implement those learnings within emerging channels.
Technology and data will have the most significant impact on the changing face of advertising in 2020. Nearly all media will be served and tracked via a digital network and all devices will be equipped to interact with each other. For example, cloud computing will be the primary storage and sharing mechanism for consumers – many use it now (Gmail) without realizing it so it will likely be a relatively seamless shift from a consumer’s perspective. Cloud computing is so important because it enables fast, cheap and easy access to content from any device, anywhere.
Because nearly all media will be delivered via a single digital network, connections can be tracked and analyzed in real time. This opens up the ability to focus on reaching key individuals at scale (addressable) vs. relying on environment (contextual relevance). This advance in technology will allow marketers to balance efficient reach while delivering more relevant communications. This much more granular data will provide a closer look at who is consuming what, when and how which in turn affects how marketers develop communication plans.
Brands can deliver the right creative messages to the right groups of people to maximize efficient reach, enable discovery and fuel passions in order to make a more meaningful connection. As new technologies like dynamic creative insertion improve, marketers will be able to efficiently adapt messages and use fewer resources to do so. The degree to which addressable and environmental targeting is used will vary across companies but back-end technology updates will allow marketers to determine a specific approach most effective for them. For marketers focused on higher-level consumer benefits and building equity, developing consumer experiences leveraging environmental approach will still be important, but addressability will lead to more efficient targeting within those relevant environments. Efforts should be made now to start to leverage advanced targeting capabilities if you need to deliver messaging catered to specific audiences or environments. Even with all the progress in technology, we believe that effective creative continues to be important.
In addition, content creation and delivery will evolve to meet consumer expectations. Consumers will expect brands to be readily available all the time – to engage with or purchase products. However, it will be more critical than ever that marketers remain cognizant of potential privacy issues and continue to refine how their brands interact with consumers. This shift will impact traditional TV networks the most: their revenue models must shift toward digital models to stay afloat, which means a focus on quantifying the aggregated audience vs. a rating at a single point in time. These technology upgrades may also allow for content producers to optimize content on the fly using the data they gather – essentially creating focus groups at scale.
In order to stay ahead of the curve, marketers must decide today that data will be the most important asset to future communication plans. Measurement and goals must adapt to the shift in how media will be served, which warrants the need for strong data management so that marketers can quickly process, apply and optimize in real time.
Marketers should begin to organize themselves around their data now or it remains useless. They can position themselves for success by reorganizing their business to analyze and capitalize on the newly available data through nimble, strategic communication plans. Companies should acquire talent now who can not only mine and analyze the multitude of data pouring in, but who can also apply it to more effectively reach consumers. Key specialty divisions will likely emerge to ensure that all other parts of the organization, including sales, marketing and retail, receive the applicable insights to improve strategic direction. It will be important to build operational infrastructures that minimize low value tasks so that strategic leads can focus on the biggest opportunities.
Making these organizational changes should result in a structure that enables rapid response to marketplace dynamics. Impacts to data collection could and should be significant – companies will use data from present day vs. 1+ year ago to optimize media mixes. The abundance of data will also force marketers to efficiently develop multiple creative messages to take advantage of addressability: tailoring the brand message to the specific consumer will be the expectation and the path forward and the time to begin to test and learn is now.