It’s an exciting time to be working in advertising. Consumer expectations for brand experiences have never been higher and the tools at our disposal to deliver those experiences have never been more diverse. It is a period of rapid change and constant evolution unlike any the industry has ever experienced.
January is as good a time as any to take stock of emerging industry trends and attempt to shed some light on where we should be focusing our efforts in 2014. Thomas Kenny, a strategic planner at Leo Burnett in Toronto, compiled a list for Marketing magazine of six trends that will shape the advertising industry in the next 12 months.
Kenny predicts that social media will go lightweight in 2014. In the early days of social, it was heralded as a sea change in how brands interact with consumers. In some ways it has delivered on this promise but in many others it hasn’t. Countless brands attempt in-depth, interactive social programs that require consumers to jump through hoop after hoop in pursuit of mostly dubious rewards. The truth is, as much as we like to think otherwise, most people just aren’t that interested. In 2014 we’ll see a dramatic scaling back of what we ask of consumers in social. In most cases it won’t be much more than two or three seconds of their time and maybe a “like” if we’re lucky.
In 2014, Kenny says that all brand experiences will need to do one of two things: tell a great story or make the consumer’s life easier. With every idea we come up with in the next 12 months we should ask ourselves whether it accomplishes one of these two things. If it doesn’t, then it’s not worth pursuing. In 2014 we will see brands begin to embrace a more consumer-centric approach to brand experiences by finding the intersection of communications objectives and solving consumer problems.
Along those same lines, Kenny says that a human purpose has become key to brand differentiation. There are more products out there than ever before and the functional benefits that would have once set many of them apart are now cost of entry. Having a brand purpose that extends beyond function can create an emotional connection to your brand that will set you apart. Furthermore, as content marketing becomes the norm, having a brand that stands for more than just the product opens the door to much more interesting content with the potential for creating meaningful consumer connections.
As a bonus, Kenny included the four terms we should stop using in 2014:
- Big Data Analytics can be hugely helpful but the gospel of big data has obscured the fact that advertising will always be more art than science. Read: Why Big Data Will Never Replace Creativity
- Second Screen Yes, my mobile device is next to me while I’m watching TV. No, I will not be using it to Shazam your TV spot.
- Digital Strategy Your strategy is your strategy regardless of where it comes to life. The “how” will change but the “why” stays the same.
- Native Advertising Advertising tailored to the context in which it appears isn’t new. All good advertising is native advertising.