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A retro and prospective construct for a responsible 2016

Posted: November 20, 2015

If you look at this year, the most purposeful marketing has been led by the young people of our country fighting for their future.

You cannot just show up in digital advertising, you have to listen first.

We can sometimes get caught up in the excitement of digital and its habit of releasing fear into every digital advertiser with its constant forward movement of technology, innovation, products and services. Just last week I read about the release of the “middle finger emoji”, self-lacing shoes, and the release of Instagram’s boomerang. And whilst these technologies, innovations and trends are hellishly exciting, I wonder if we are focusing too much on the tomorrow instead of leveraging what our audiences are telling us today?

“Responsible marketing” should then become our mantra.

It was whilst watching a colleague tapping his wrist wearable to death that I found the nugget I needed for this piece. Glancing at the distracted faces in the room, the lines told a story of another hard year for our brands and South Africa as a whole. Looking back and then looking forward got me thinking about the responsibility we have as advertisers to our clients and to our current societal shifts.

Looking back … at the beginning of this year we noted some of the “trends” we could expect. All of which has been great for us digital folk as we then turned to innovation and strategically lead digital solves to realise these visions. User interaction and seamless experience across all channels took centre stage in our solutions while the Internet of things continued to be a material part of our digital discussions.

Today … currently there is a far bigger societal trend-shift that we have to consider. We, as marketers, spend too many hours and meetings trying to find the shared purpose in our advertising, when, if you look at this year, the most purposeful marketing has been led by the young people of our country fighting for their future. The birth of a new social economy is driven by the very same audiences our brands are trying to target.

I would like to see our Government using social data, big data, in fact all data more broadly for advertisers, business and brands to create solutions and impacts based on the user needs of our country. I would like to see Government using this intelligence to pick up and predict social issues before they become national news. Imagine if we could use data to track ‘flu outbreaks” and immobilise the strain with targeted campaigns, rich content and information delivered by Pharma? If big data is at the heart of the intelligence economy, then where is our strategy? Imagine a digital government here in Africa that would ignite real change. An action plan aimed at providing better services to citizens by delivering anytime, anywhere digital information and services?

Looking to 2016

and the forthcoming (or present) trends, categorised into 3 baskets:

First, a global context. There are new trends and innovations like the emerging “no interface” discussion. There is talk about a post app era with SIRI and Cortana assistance delivering the information without the need of apps, video ad supremacy, a continued emergence of virtual reality devices, and wearable tech solutions gaining more ground.

But looking to local trends I think the consumer-empowered economy is very much alive. #feesmustfall is just the start of a voice that I think will grow louder in 2016. Other trends include:


1. Micro-moments: We still need to take real advantage of this dynamic in 2016. Tapping into and creating hyper local mobile marketing, search and targeting strategies that deliver the right message through rich content and context marketing.

2. The device mesh: Meshing other apps, services and products as your own to leverage existing and rich content partners (Zomato integrated Uber into its app this year).

3. Live marketing being the new real time marketing. Digital marketers have to take a fast, agile tactical approach to new news as it happens to be heard and be relevant (think Oreo “Dunk in the dark” or Dominos Pizza SA “Eleven twenty million” piece).

4. Personalised storytelling and targeting.

5. Content syndication and remarketing.

6. Ad formats: Local mobile targeting, increase in video formats, surge in the new Instagram ad opportunities, additional strategic focus on SEO.

7. More of the “make it emotional” mandate!

The social trend: But for me it’s social trends that will lead the way in 2016. Things like: consumer led change via radical movement and action, marketing to become more responsible in adding real value/purpose, more consumers dictating the trajectory of your brands’ future and lastly, the declining use of paid for influencers in favour of real advocates.

In summary I think 2016 will become the most defining year in digital marketing and our country yet. We need to think about how we use data and digital marketing technology to understand the priorities of our hyper-conscious, hyper-connected communities in order to deliver on their need states with true gravitas. This is the way we will grow our clients, our brands, our people and our country.