With the UK paralysed over Brexit and retailers reporting their worst Christmas in a decade, 2019 is already shaping up as a challenging year for brands and marketers. Against a backdrop that is also being shaped by the rollout of AI, VR, IoT, voice and 5G, growth and M&A advisor Waypoint Partners has brought together another array of agency leaders from creative, tech and marketing to provide insights into the trends likely to impact their sectors in 2019. Just nobody mention drones, please…
AR/VR to combine with AI to create the Internet of Everything
Adrian Leu, CEO, Inition
Will we divide ourselves between alternate realities in 2019?
Together with AI and IoT, AR and VR will be part of the ecosystem that will create the new ‘Internet of Everything’ enabling us to have a deeper understanding of the world. IoT will transform localised data into information, AI will transform that information into insights and AR/VR will transform those insights into actionable, contextual, visual experiences. An increasing number of vertical applications will take advantage of this stack of technologies. The bridge between the physical (IoT) and the virtual (AI, AR/VR) worlds will encourage a two-way flow of data, creating a seamless blend between those realities. 2019 will be a mere stepping stone in that direction.
Media buying: Independents will outwit lumbering networks
Martin Woolley, CEO, The Specialist Works
Independents will continue to win clients from networks. Brands can’t afford to spend time or money in the wrong places, so will expect media learnings to be deployed quickly. This is where indie agencies and flexible buying models will triumph. Networks – the super tankers of offline media – are not built for speed. Group trading deals and monthly planning cycles are incompatible with our truly mobile world.
That said, consumer confidence is low, a global slowdown looming, not to mention the B-word. In times like these, insight without swift action is nothing short of a sin. Clients will demand visibility, granular planning and in-campaign optimisation in all media – not just digital. Programmatic and addressable TV, DOOH and other future developments will not arrive at critical mass soon enough for 2019’s challenges.
Digital Infrastructure: In-housing to gather pace
Paul Mead, Executive Board Director, Jellyfish
We have seen momentum on digital media in-housing build rapidly throughout 2018 and I expect that to increase this year. CMOs and their boards are beginning to understand that structure is as important as strategy in driving growth and delivering business objectives.
In-housing was one of the media buzzwords of 2018 but there are many different types of in-housing and different considerations for bringing in creative versus digital media. In-housing also doesn’t mean not using agencies. It simply means a different relationship. While all agencies will profess to support an in-housing project, very few have the capabilities to deliver it successfully. There will be an increasing understanding of what in-housing means and who to partner with to offset the risks and deliver the upside.
Branding and Creativity: Getting back to basics
Trevor Cairns, CEO, Love Creative
Rather than try to predict the future I’m hoping 2019 is the year we rediscover the past. So, apologies to all you advocates of AI, AR, big data and whatever else you think the next “big thing” will be.
I’d like 2019 to be the year when true brand positioning wins over grabbing at some lofty social purpose, when creative briefs have broader consumer definition than the ever-present millennial, when objectives stretch beyond the dreaded disruption and when pushing the value of disciplines such as design doesn’t label you a dinosaur.
I won’t hold my breath though…
Marketing: Consolidation and the Comeback of Contextual Advertising
Mark Bembridge, CEO, Smartology
The application of AI, Machine Learning and Natural Language processing in contextual advertising will be a significant trend in 2019.
Marketers will continue to adopt AI for their analytical needs. By algorithmically examining demographics, location, time of day, month or year, and a whole host of other factors, AI helps to form a better picture, increases efficiencies and improves marketers’ offering.
Contextual solutions will continue to make a comeback across all digital channels as GDPR makes cookie-based targeting much more difficult. This will increasingly impact TV as well as it continues to transition towards digital.
2019 will see a significant increase in consolidation as players across the vast Lumascape of tech marketing vendors are acquired.
Market Research:2019 spells need for right people, right skills and attitude
Simon Shaw, Co-founder, Trinity McQueen
The challenge for anyone providing research-based strategic advice in 2019 is to take a step back and ask what’s the best way to solve this problem, today? The answer is likely to include a blend of the right people, skills and attitude. When it comes to people, we’re talking “T-shaped people” – those who combine depth of skill with a willingness to collaborate across disciplines. Marketers need to be specialists who understand related disciplines. The three skills most prized in modern workers are cognitive flexibility, critical thinking and creativity according to the World Economic Forum. The right attitude involves a blend of being prepared to work outside comfort zones and a willingness to seek out complementarity: in an AI-enabled. world this means drawing on the best of machines and professionals working together. Agencies who can combine the right people, skills and attitude will thrive in 2019.
Retail: Using emerging tech to solve consumer woes will be key
Adrian Lomas, CEO, Blueleaf
Sainsbury’s, Mothercare, Debenhams, the roll call of retailers posting dismal Christmas sales signals an urgent need for radical innovation in this sector. Convenience is key; retailers who embrace technologies such as voice, to make consumers’ buying journeys smoother will triumph. A good starting place is to identify a current consumer problem that retailers could help to solve. Could supermarkets develop a scaled down version of their stock control systems into an app to help prevent busy consumers running out of basic essentials? The opportunities are there – retailers need to go out there and seize them.
Agencies: More diversification into product development
Ian Harris, Founder, Agency Hackers
One thing agency leaders seem to be focusing on in 2019 is building products. At Agency Summit, Nikki Gatenby told us about CoverageBook – a side project that her agency Propellernet transformed into a successful SaaS business. It’s now on track to bring in even more revenue than the agency.
Running an agency and building a product at the same time is hard and for every success story, therearea pile of flops. When you exist on margins of 10% to 20%, finding time to develop a product is a grind. And lots of agencies spend months building boondoggles nobody wants because they don’t ask the right questions.
Scale Up Technology: Sharpening the sales function
Phil Gripton, Partner, Waypoint Partners
In the ‘scale up technology’ market, the pressure continues for those companies that have achieved “product market fit” and are looking to justify their valuations to investors and the wider market. Leaders must balance continuing to evolve their product with the need to find a ready market for said product in its post-MVP (minimum viable product) state. This includes validating their product’s ability to deliver on its potential. Creating a scalable, repeatable sales process is key to growing revenues so the challenge for leaders will be securing the right way to do this. Discovering and nurturing supportive sales talent (including sales leadership) will also be crucial for revenue growth and for supporting the next round of funding requirements.
Leaner internal outbound teams using digital interaction tools will increasingly replace more traditional cost heavy sales models. We will also see a shift from single deal interactions towards a subscription or retainer-based business model; an approach which requires first class client service teams delivering excellent customer service to succeed.
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Article first published in Advertising Week 360.