Maria Luisa Francoli Plaza

Maria Luisa Francoli Plaza, Global CEO, Havas Media

Today’s world is changing at an unparalleled pace. How we live our life and how we consume media is vastly different than it was twenty, ten or even five years ago. It seems like technology is developing quicker than we can blink our eyes. It’s exciting – and yet challenging – to imagine what the next decade will hold.

I think one of the best examples demonstrating the rate of change is AT&T’s iconic “You Will” campaign that ran in 1993-1994. The commercials asked a series of questions like “Have you ever crossed the country without stopping for directions? You will.” Or “Have you ever tucked your baby in from a phone booth? You will.” It sounded like science fiction at the time, but looking back it’s impressive how accurately they predicted the future, including the inventions of GPS, e-readers, Netflix and web conferences, just to name a few.

The ubiquity of technology will continue to expand at a rapid pace and will be fully integrated into all facets of our lives and, as a result, media too. In addition, mobile will play a much bigger role and real-time marketing will be standard.

Technology will play perhaps the greatest role in how we gather, store and share information. Within advertising and media, one of the largest outcomes and subsequent benefits of this is transparency, due to the accessibility of information to everyone.

And speaking of transparency, consumers continue to demand it. Through our own consumer research we’re seeing a significant shift in consumers’ expectations of how companies should behave; namely, consumers are increasingly looking to brands to create real value for their communities and for their consumers, and to be open and honest in their activities and communications. Media and brands can no longer ignore consumers’ calls for more socially responsible behavior – tomorrow’s successful companies will put social responsibility and consumer well-being at the core of their media and marketing strategies while helping consumers play an active part in their community and/or cause.

Advertising of the future will be less about advertising and more about the relationships between consumers and the roles brands can play in that relationship. Traditional CRM will be prevalent across all categories. Increasingly, brands will continue to be in tune with human values. Ultimately, I believe advertising will be a force behind “right and wrong” and will help guide what is right to create a happier and, importantly, a more sustainable society.

We are also seeing consumer media needs and expectations changing in a few significant ways. For one, the increase of mobile means consumers are consistently and constantly multi-tasking with media more than ever before – watching TV while surfing the web on their phones, tweeting and chatting with friends, all at the same time. Tomorrow’s media must enable this behavior through shareable and interactive content. In addition, these consumers use media as a form of self-expression and a platform to share information within their network of peers. With the prevalence of social media and instant peer-to-peer communication, brands must be open and transparent in order to achieve success in the future. Digital media supercharges human behaviors and acts as word-of-mouth on steroids. Consumers are not hesitant to share their love – or hatred – of a brand, and this will amplify in the coming years.

An extension of this includes augmented reality and robots, which will offer new kinds of advertising opportunities. Virtual agents will become more a part of our personal and professional lives, and brands will become involved in taking the first step to offer this new technology to consumers. With it, everything will be instant and brands will continue to provide personalized, tangible and exclusive offers for their customers.

What do we need to do now for this future?

In order to prepare for the future, we need to continue to deliver on the changing needs of consumers and to enable/improve these day-to-day needs. To do this, I believe we must focus on three key things now: real-time marketing, mobile and collaboration.

We must shift to real-time marketing. From a media perspective, we’re already doing this. Having access to real-time data and knowledge helps us look at the full picture at a granular level on a daily basis to understand which activities are working to achieve the desired results for our clients and to pinpoint the opportunities for improvement. This will allow us to optimize communications across channels, messaging and content as needed to increase marketing effectiveness.

There’s no denying it. Mobile marketing will continue to play a major role in advertising. This summer, we eclipsed 55% Smartphone penetration in the US. As this number increases, consumers are becoming more sophisticated in their usage – and consumption – of media. As this space matures, the purchase funnel will change. In order to meet the demands of tomorrow’s consumer, we need to continue to invest in and understand mobile commerce and the user’s purchase habits. Once we have these learnings we can apply them to improve performance in that space.

And finally, now, more than ever, collaboration is key. Media and creative work hand-in-hand to create a fluid communication base to promote brands through a shared vision to deliver on what they promise.