PitchPoint went to New York to detect the latest trends in the communication industry. In one week time we met the management of 25 leading communication agencies and holdings* and we tried to understand the fundamental currents driving the world of communication and marketing in 2016. During 5 days we got tons of interesting information. Our challenge was to find the common thread through all the meetings and presentations.
From all the collected information we identified five key trends that shape the future of our business. The Madison Avenue buzz-words of today are: XP, Business Transformation, DDM, Partnership Collaboration and Smart Metrics.
From 'story-telling' towards 'XP'
To effectively connect consumers and brands, we must create a 'universe' of consumer experiences. 'Content Marketing' and 'storytelling' are part of it. But in the end it is all about relevant 'story-doing', about the final consumer experience. It must be unique, simple and based on the ethics of modern society. 'Purpose', 'authenticity' and 'sustainability' were not fads, and they remain fundamental societal movements.
From 'advertising' towards 'Business Transformation'
Marketing and communication as an isolated expertise or as a staff function is dead. The new agency is a business consultant, and CMO's become business partners. Conventional business consultants become a major competitor for communication agencies and vice versa. Business 'perfomance', 'transformation', 'disruption' and RO(C)I become the new keywords. The traditional gap between brands and sales (finally) disappear. Some agencies are so deeply involved with their clients that they become product- or service-developers for their customers.
From 'research' towards 'DDM'
Technology remains a key driver, and 'adtech' and 'programmatic' are part of it. 'Data driven marketing' (DDM) fundamentally changes the way we work. Marketing analysis evolves from the historical reporting about "what's happened" and from "consumer declarations" towards a predictive approach. Big data became a permanent part of our ecosystem and are essential to get a clear insight in consumer behaviour and to evolve towards personalised marketing.
From 'supplier cooperation' towards 'Partnership Collaboration'
There is be a subtle difference between 'cooperation' and 'collaboration'. The first term implies a distribution of work between the participants, while the second one implies that we really work together as a team. In the way brands and agencies work together, there is a clear tendency towards collaboration, towards partnerships. On agency side this translates into a reintegration of the different specialities in a 'one-agency' model. With the exception of the 'decoupling'-trend where big brands look for economies in commodity services and in production.
From 'grp' towards 'Smart Metrics'
'Gross Rating Points' (GRP) and 'Cost-per-Mille' (CPM) have been the unique currencies in the advertising world for decades. These media-centric and media-dependent measurements are outdated. There is a clear trend towards consumer-centric holistic measures. They should allow the advertiser to measure the cross-media consumer impact of communication activities across all touchpoints. Smartphones and smartwatches are already fitted with enough sensors and produce enough big data as to measure accurately consumer behaviors and even consumer emotions. "Emotion-tech" and "smart metrics" will be the new methods to detect relevant consumer insights.
A (re)new(ed) communication-model in 7 phases
Nearly all agencies showed us a (re)new(ed) approach of the communication process. It can be summarized in seven phases: "Data > Insights > Idea > Creation > XP > Business > Metrics". A large amount of big data ultimately leads to a number of relevant insights that form the basis for that one idea that is developed creatively and creates a unique consumer experience which ultimately generates business results, that are measured and which leads to new data and ... we're back to the beginning…
Visiting 25 agencies in one week time is madness. It generates a cascade of information, and we might have lost a lot of detail. Alternatively, it was an excellent way to identify some patterns and insights in the abundance of big data. And the rest of the story is food for thought for agencies…
Thanks to AdForum who introduced us in NYC at BBDO, Big Spaceship, Cheil, Cool Brands, DDB, Fancy, iCrossing, Interpublic, J. Walter Thompson, KBS+, M&C Saatchi, Mirum, Mullen Lowe Group, MyersBizNet, PI&C, Possible, Publicis, SapientNitro, SelectNY, TBWA, The Martin Agency, Walton Isaacson, Work&C°, Wunderman, You & Mr Jones.