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Reflections on 2017 and predictions for 2018

We asked industry insiders for their thoughts on the year that was, and what's yet to come.

January 26, 2018 | news

Nick Worthington

What mistake will the industry make in 2018? 

Nick Worthington - creative chairman, Colenso BBDO  

That’s the big one for 2018 in my book. My humble prediction is that the biggest mistakes will be made by those who love data a little too much. Those who love facts - you can trust facts, facts don’t lie, and who can argue 35 with the facts, right?

Well, I’m happy to give it a go. You see, I still can’t explain or rationalise why I love one thing more than another, but I do. It’s that intangible thing called desire, and how it’s kindled and created is a mystery to us all and more alchemy than chemistry.

More magic than data.

If chemistry deals with facts, then alchemy deals in blind faith and the crazy belief that, perhaps, with a little magic, things of little worth could somehow be fashioned into pure gold.

Alchemists drew on philosophy, religion, astrology, spirituality and magic. Sure, they had the data, but the data said you couldn’t make gold, and they didn’t let that stop them.

And with a little magic and a little alchemy, the best brands in New Zealand will continue to create desire, which in our little world is pure gold. For the rest, there will be heaps of lead. 

Ant Farac

What will be the most over-rated/over-hyped thing in 2018? 

Ant Farac - executive creative director, Mediaworks

Some brands are masters of content, but many are just playing catch-up. Brand stories, business stories, stories from the factory floor, it seems like everyone has a story they just have to tell, but in 2018, if you’re just adding content for content's sake, don’t!

If you’re creating content for your business it needs to be on message and it needs to enhance your overall strategy – not simply adding to an increasingly cluttered digital market.

I’m not suggesting axing content from your marketing strategy, but if you intend to create content for your business, be sure your vision is clear, that it sets you apart and you’re telling a story with purpose.

That interesting anecdote from when Jim in accounts started at your business should not be shared as content anymore. 

Alex Lawson

What will be the biggest challenge of 2018? 

Alex Lawson - general manager, Carat

Staying relevant in the face of massive, and still unprecedented, rates of change.

This applies to every single facet of our industry: from the clients whose business models are challenged by consumers demanding more and the new category disruptors looking for ways to give it to them; to what that then means those same clients need from their agencies and partners; and to what then is asked of suppliers, distributors, production partners. No one is immune from it and all must constantly evolve and adapt to survive and stay relevant and useful to their clients or customers.

As agencies, this gives us constant challenge as we reappraise and reset team structures, media strategies, client relationships and goals, and more capabilities that our clients need.

There is no rulebook anymore, each client is individual in their requirements and how we meet them, every agency group must recognise that and adapt. We have to fit the client model, not the client fitting the agency model or devise a new model entirely if the client business objectives demand it. Those that are better set up to achieve that will continue to be successful. 

Damon Stapleton

What’s next?

Damon Stapleton - chief creative officer, DDB 

I think the next couple of years will still be about some very fundamental choices and questions.

Is what a consumer sees as important as how many times they are seeing it?

Should a brand be everywhere or somewhere?

How important is quality these days?

And, is speed always the answer?

Who is having the ideas? Where are they having the ideas?

These shifting tectonic plates have always been with us but I do feel a beautiful collision is imminent. Happy New Year. 

Astrud Burgess

What changed the way you think about the industry over the last year?

Astrud Burgess - head of marketing, ANZ

This year has seen a lot of controversy and conversation about digital media, with discussions around brand safety, challenges to the value model of programmatic advertising and a growing scepticism for some of the numbers being produced around audience reach and engagement.

As an industry, I think we are suffering something of a digital hangover.

We need to take a deep breath, remind ourselves that we are not the average consumer and resist doing only what is new and innovative, instead focusing on carefully matching our media choices to the outcomes we are trying to achieve and measuring our activity on more than lowest CPC. 

Julia Jack

What’s keeping you up at night? 

Julia Jack - chief marketing officer, Mercury

Right now, jet lag! More usually, the question of where we focus our efforts to do more, do it better, do it different. In a very competitive market, we are constantly thinking about what we need to do next to deliver on our promises to inspire, reward and make it easy for our customers.

Our re-brand delivered great customer results for Mercury in terms of churn and satisfaction and we received awards for our ‘Energy Made Wonderful’ campaign but, of course, all of that creates even higher expectations from us and our customers.

There’s a lot of noise out there, whether it’s about “unlocking your customer data” or “optimising your digital marketing”. Our focus and challenge is sorting through all the clutter to find the real gold – the key new services, new offers, new ways of engaging – that will really make energy wonderful for New Zealanders. 

Murray Kirkness

What have we moved away from in 2017 that we probably shouldn’t have? 

Murray Kirkness - editor, NZ Herald

There has been a real rush to social/digital/ online content, often at the expense of ‘traditional’ media. And that’s understandable. But I’m lucky to work at a company that prides itself on delivering great content on all of its platforms rather than just concentrating on one or two: radio, digital, social, video, print ... NZME holds The Herald and all our other newspapers in the highest regard – and our readers and the company are reaping the bene ts of that.

Even more satisfying is not only do we produce great newspapers and agenda-setting radio, but we’re doing so while really flying in the digital and video space.

We’ve got great people here, finding the best and most innovative ways of telling terrific stories. Every day they’re given the backing and the tools to produce their very best — it’s a great formula. 

Kim Niblock

What will the next five to 10 years look like? 

Kym Niblock - chief product and information officer, TVNZ

As a driver of innovation for TVNZ, my job depends on forecasting how current consumer and tech trends will play out. Here are some of my predictions of what the world will look like in five to 10 years’ time: 

Entertainment: by 2020, video-on-demand viewing will be equal to live and scheduled programming, and half of all viewing will be on a mobile screen including smartphones, tablets and laptops. Consumers will watch around 25-30 hours a week, including scheduled TV, live and VOD, downloaded and recorded content.

Data: our personal data will be our most precious possession, aside from our family. We’ll use digital guardians to protect our data and identity to maintain privacy.

Sharing economy: rather than owning a car, you’ll order a car for each day you need it and others will use it when you’re not. It will still feel like yours due to smart settings and personalisation.

Internet of things: currently there’s lots of measuring and analyzing but in 10 years, the focus will be on the experience of connectivity. Smart homes will remember and adjust many things including our heating, light and entertainment settings.

Simplification: we’re now seeing the greatest fragmentation ever because there’s always a shiny new social platform, device or app demanding our time. Fast forward a few years, we’ll be smarter and selective about only using the tech that works for us and enhances our lives.

Shopping: shops will redefine ‘shopping’ and use augmented reality to deliver the experience you need, both in-store or at home.

Sentience: sophisticated processing of analytics will allow many professions to know you intimately. Doctors will diagnose and treat patients with up-to-the-minute medical advice, teachers will track students’ progress and plan lessons and courses to their needs. Cities will learn when services are required through artificial intelligence – in rush hour, more buses and trains will run when more people need them. 

Nicky Greville

Which media channel will most need to change in 2018 and how?

Nicky Greville - national general manager, Y&R Media

Industry-standard viewability, transparency, verification, Amazon/Ali Baba looming, the continued decline of PUTs, what a year. It seems that rapid change has become our norm.

However, above all of this, my pick for impact on the industry in 2017 is the ComCom decisions. And moving into next year, I certainly think the waves from the NZME/Fairfax decision will extend far into 2018. I believe press will see the biggest amount of change; its viability further questioned by shrinking revenue and a broken news model, and its army of staff volatile as the impact of a decision becomes clear.

NZME, having worked hard to evolve their offering and streamline their print, radio and digital businesses, has so much opportunity to realise in 2018. Similarly, Fairfax has come leaps and bounds in their digital and data offering and has so much more to offer. But both businesses have also acknowledged that the traditional form of news distribution has been entirely disrupted by the likes of Facebook.

So it seems that regardless of the final decision, the impact on local news might be almighty, despite reassurances this will not be the case. My question is what will be of local journalism in a country where press is so very parochial?

Aside from inevitable job losses, where will we foster and grow the next generation of amazing Kiwi journalists?

Online, yes.

But will global platforms with off shore P&L, syndicated content, and the rise of entertain-news make enough room to nurture young talent and maintain focus on our local communities in a sustainable way? TVNZ and Mediaworks may see a ood of local talent heading their way, but there’s also only so much talent they can support in a world where streamlining is mandatory.

And what, dear God, will become of our nation's spelling and grammar? 

Louise Bond

What’s the one problem you’d like to solve next year? 

Louise Bond - chief executive, PHD Group

It would be diversity within PHD and the broader advertising and communications industry. 

Sam Stuchbury

What technology will have the biggest impact in 2018?

Sam Stuchbury - creative director and founder, Motion Sickness Studio

Personally, I feel that sometimes the ’next big thing’ isn’t always the thing that will have the biggest impact; sometimes it’s how consumers (and we as marketers) make the most of existing technology that can change the game.

One place I see huge potential in our industry for 2018 is mobile e-commerce experiences. The usage of mobile devices for internet browsing is massive, but New Zealanders still tend to prefer to purchase on a desktop. I feel like we’re at a tipping point, where people en masse are more comfortable with that tiny little computer in their pocket. I think there’s a lot of room for improvement here, for the consumer experience. It’s not just about making it easy for them to make a transaction - it’s about still giving them that lasting positive brand experience.

And when great-aunt Doris down in Temuka is making a purchase on her iPhone 4 we’ll know we’ve got it right. 

Colleen Ryan

What broke in 2017?

Colleen Ryan - head of strategy, TRA

Well apart from the obvious – the Auckland Airport fuel pipe breaking was pretty catastrophic and of course the electoral system seems pretty broke when one small party can determine the outcome of the election – and within our super important industry, the broken trust in the digital media reporting and billing system rolled on, but for me the main 2017 breakage was the failure of the ongoing debate about the lack of senior women in advertising – especially in creative roles – to take the argument beyond unfairness to the impact on the work.

A literature review of work in HR shows that if a man writes a recruitment ad and a woman writes a recruitment ad for the same job, the ad written by a woman will attract a significantly greater number of women applicants – despite both ads appearing to be very similar and with no obvious bias toward the sex of the applicants. A bit of smart discourse analysis can un-pick the differences but to most people, the ads appear to be much the same.

So, if a simple recruitment ad created by a man or a woman can have such a huge impact on how the audience of different sexes responds – what about all the TVCs and digital content targeted at women but created by men. The gender diversity model in advertising has been broken for a long time; what’s new this year is that women are speaking out and are no longer willing to be broken by their role in the creative disciplines. 

Duncan Shand

What parts of the industry will struggle the most over the next year? 

Duncan Shand - managing director of Young & Shand

​Let me start by saying that this is one of the most competitive industries I have ever worked in. I’ve been in IT, airlines, biotech, telco and now advertising. Believe it or not, advertising isn’t all beer and skittles. We all have ups and downs. You can be riding a wave one day and still fall off pretty hard.

We hear all the time how it’s getting harder and harder to get to consumers, especially young consumers, using the techniques of yesterday. With the relentless move to SVOD services and the digitisation of news, sports and content, people are choosing to consume what they want, where they want, when they want.

So I think everyone will struggle, and particularly so anyone that’s complacent. That’s because the rate of change is only accelerating. Managing technological change is challenging. My advice is to test, try and learn. Those who embrace new technologies (eg. AI and AR) and learn from them will fare best. Those who stand back or put their heads in the sand maybe won’t do so well.

Remember though to combine the best of the new digital world with old school brand building too. We still need to understand, develop insights, create compelling ideas and connect. It’s just how we connect that’s different. It’s also not a digital versus traditional world; I think publishers are changing and adapting to ensure they’re still relevant in the new world. Working across media channels to build awareness, engage and then drive action is what we need to do.

For all the challenges right now we've never been more excited about what the future holds. Just get into it. 

Paul Catmur

What should be un-invented? 

Paul Catmur - CEO Barnes, Catmur & Friends Dentsu

The wheel.

Once upon a time we were happy hanging out in our caves munching on mammoths, painting stickmen on the walls and picking insects out of our beards.

Then the wheel came along and things went downhill fast.

Our new found mobility brought us into contact with new neighbours that we had to fight because they wore their loin cloth in a different style; we came upon new rivers we could drown in; sabre-toothed tigers with anger management issues; and awesome big rocks that nearly killed us wheeling them back home as souvenirs.

So I suggest we keep the internet, smart phones, gaming, Spotify, Bluetooth and Netflix, because with those to entertain us there’s no reason to ever leave the cave.

Which means that the way to get back to a happier, simpler time is actually to get rid of the wheel.

And don’t get me started on fire. 

  • This story originally appeared in the Special edition of NZ Marketing magazine to celebrate the Stoppies.

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