2010: What lies ahead

2010: what lies ahead

1. Advertising will go mobile. We've been seeing this trend being talked about a lot, but this year it seems it's going to finally happen. Accurate measurement of mobile and the exponential growth of the medium (blame it on the iPhone app explosion?), combined with mainstream agencies and brands finally understanding the potential of the 'third screen' is bound to see growth in advertising spends on that platform.

2.Online advertising will certainly (need to!) get more creative. This will mean that the 'banner' – plain, flat, just there waiting for a click – will die out. Consumer demands will drive increased creativity and content within the framework. Attention seeking content, including video, forms-within-banner, banners with built in games, total page takeovers and other interactive advertising on banners should become the trend.

3.Social media and networking portals will emerge as new marketing and sales channels for brands. Commercial possibilities across many social media portals will allow brands to play a far more active role in not just engaging in conversations about their brands, but also pushing sales.

4.Crowdsourcing, and not just online. Crowdsourcing – or mobilizing consumers, interest groups and followers to develop brand communications across multiple online and mainstream channels is emerging as a clear trend across the marketing world. Whether for research, developing consumer driven content on video platforms and viral channels, or brainstorming on brand ideas, consumers in a crowd out there are becoming involved - and at huge cost efficiencies across the board. From politics (Obama did this rather well) to software development, people journalism to activism, crowdsourcing is going to become a key resource for both agencies and marketers.

5.The world is flat and so will media content be. With the increasing absorption of media across digital channels, content will become 'channel neutral'. So, a tv spot will emerge on YouTube and be shared on Facebook and tweeted about. If the content is interesting to the consumer, these will take viral flight on multiple social media channels. In order for this long tail to happen, formats need to be easily convertible and accessibility for the consumer will become key. Borders and boundaries of format will give way to seamless usability across channels.

6.Analytics and performance measurement will emerge as crucial players in how brands will require agencies and suppliers to be transparent and answerable. And, no, this will not be limited to online. So, soon enough, brands will be asking what works and what doesn't, and often tying in sales to marketing efforts as KPIs. Online advertising and media planning has theoretically always been measurable. The dynamic shift will happen in mainstream media, where, increasingly marketing managers will look at connecting ad bursts and campaigns to direct effects on products moving off the shelves.

7.Cheaper. Faster. Better. And then some. The differentiator will need to be something beyond the obvious. Brands will need to compete at all levels for consumer attention, purchase, retention and loyalty. With consumers sluggish in recovering from a fairly big meltdown, and their purchase patterns affecting everything else in the business side, brands need to bring a lot more to the table than just cheaper, or claim to be better, or deliver faster. The 'and then some' factor will be crucial. These may include superb after sales service, attention to detail, consistent track records, consumer engagement in product definitions etc. But there will have to be an edge.

8.Advertising in traditional media channels will continue to rule – specially in our region here in the Middle East. While, yes, there has been a lot of conversations on the 'shift to digital', the most cost effective mass-reach model will remain in the broadcast and satellite driven tv channels. While consumers are looking for the convenience, the customization and the delivery of internet driven content, one cannot ignore the fact that while the consumer wants more, the desire for 'better' is yet to outdo the desire for instant. So, with the advent of HDTV, and the possibilities of 3DTV coming to our region by 2010, advertising spends in traditional mass mediums will remain hero.

9.Sponsored content and placement might rear its head as a big player. With many consumers channel surfing during ad breaks or TiVO-ing out ads to watch pure content, brands will increasingly look at 'placement' where their products are woven into the fabric of the programmed content. This has traditionally happened in movies, on tv programs and serials, and it will grow in the online domain as well.

10.The consumer will emerge as the true brand spokesperson. With market shattering news like the Tiger Woods issue, what with John Terry, and God alone knows who else, the consumer might emerge as a strong contender to the brand personality throne. More companies may start to opt for the average guy on the street and his positive reviews, his peer group pressures and his influence, rather than depend on the Tigers and the Terrys.