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Digital People 2011 - 5 Years On...

Digital People was a Q&A style series appearing on trade site - Digital Ministry - which was produced by MediaScope's founder.   From 2008 to 2013 over 100 of Australia's most senior and successful people in our digital media community shared their views and opinions in what became a well known industry resource.

Some of the questions in these Q&A profiles asked Digital People to look ahead 5 years - so 5 years later we've asked some of 2011's Digital People to reflect on their predictions and offer their 5 year forecast again.  

As you'll see their views from 5 years ago were very accurate....

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Click on the names below or scroll down the page -

Simon Corbett - Partner at SlingshotDigital People 2011 - 5 Years On: Simon Corbett

Looking back at your 2011 forecasts what did you get right, wrong and what did you miss?

I nailed it! I forecasted the continuing rise of the word Viral and hasn’t that happened! It is almost a worthless word now. I read articles and see comments that talk of videos gong viral that have about 2,000views. The word has lost all meaning and that’s saying something as it was used incorrectly 5yrs ago. I do not want to see the word Viral EVER AGAIN!

I also spoke of seeing very stringent methods of measuring the value to the brand and the bottom line of all the money spent in digital. Was I right about that? I’m not sure I was in all honesty. There is certainly more coverage around the true impact of digital and people such as Mark Ritson and the ‘Ehrenberg Bass Institute’ who quite rightly are asking tough questions around how digital / social are turning the dial. But are we genuinely able to attribute how digital built brand in isolation to other channels? No, I don’t think we are there. I’m not sure that we will even get there in another 5yrs. 

So what will the next five years hold? (2016 - 2021)   

 I think that we will start to see the science and law like patterns given to us by Byron Sharp and the team at Ehrenberg Bass really start to get traction. We are advocates of that work at Slingshot but I believe that most agencies are not. We love the gift they have given us of scientifically proven methods or marketing and we are adopting it at a rapid pace. 

The application of Data Science into agencies and the planning process will continue unabated I believe. We very much believe in the old maxim of ‘find out what works and do more of it, find out what doesn’t work and stop doing it” and while we are far from perfect, having a full time data scientist with 30yrs experience has made a hell of a big difference to the work that Slingshot put into market. This won’t go away.

Transparency of media costs, margins and mark-ups will get bigger and bigger – thank god. This lives and breathes in the digital landscape through opportunistic investment in Agency Trading Desks delivering programmatic buying to clients at undisclosed margins. We have large buying groups who in reality are now effectively both the Seller and the Buyer with ‘digital media’ agencies within the big buying groups pushing dollars through the group Trading Desk. The gig is up people.  

Twitter will disappear - and I hope I'm wrong in this forecasts as I am a big Twitter user and fan. However, I am not seeing anything to show they understand the critical issues facing them.

Facebook Marketplace will get some serious traction I think.

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Iain MacDonald - Previous CEO of Razorfish, Chair of Adtech

Looking back at your 2011 forecasts what did you get right, wrong and what did you miss?

 Five years - how quickly time flies. I love to make predictions way more than I like checking to see how they panned out! Reading back, my industry predictions in 2011 were the rise of Internet TV; Mobile becoming mission critical; Consumers playing greater roles defining products; Adtech growth through all media forms. Back then, Netflix hadn't yet launched their streaming only subscription service so it's amazing to see how far they in particular have come. The 'maker movement' has also powered ahead thanks to arduino and 3D printing and when people aren't hacking their own projects the rest are generally much more involved in brands and product evolution. Mobile and Adtech we all know how far these have both come, particularly with programmatic. I also spoke about the importance of privacy in a digital era - this was, is and will continue to be an ever growing challenge. Did I pass the test? I'll let others decide :)

So what will the next five years hold? (2016 - 2021)   

So, prediction(s) for 2021? I'm happy to stick my neck out on a few and be a bit provocative this time:

 Agencies will become much more product creation and user experience focussed than they are today. Internal innovation will play a much bigger role in agencyland. A growing number of agencies will consider launching their own products, perhaps in partnership with brands. Both brands and the industry will become closer with the startup sector. Automation, deep learning and AI will creep into our industry lives, potentially eating up a few existing job roles forever. More brands will experiment in taking media (and perhaps creative) activities in-house as automation makes media buying more of a commodity. I suspect the industry will see more competition coming from the big consultation companies as they expand more into the digital space. I think making money in traditional media and agencyland will get even tougher and retaining staff will be even harder - as if it wasn't bad enough! As ever, the agencies that do well will be the ones that adapt the fastest to change.

My particular interest these days is the increasingly blurry line between physical and digital. Within five years we will all have a clearer picture of the role emerging tech like the Internet of Things will play. New narrowband communication networks (which are still on the way) will allow new types of connected customer experiences. IoT - it's a red hot space with endless possibilities that my article word count won't allow. Finally, I'm certain that automated vehicles will be on our roads by 2021 but to what extent is hard to say. I expect Uber to be playing a significant role there. Will we be witnessing driverless vehicles with billboards clogging our roads? It will not a technology issue by the end of 2021, just a legislative one and another one for the politicians to argue about.

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Tony Faure - Chairman of Stackla & Pollenizer

 Digital People 2011 - 5 Years On: Tony FaureLooking back at your 2011 forecasts what did you get right, wrong and what did you miss?

 I see the value in brevity! TV and video have played out pretty much as I expected, but I'm fascinated by the fact that it's Facebook rather than YouTube that has really taken this to the next level. People are still talking about 'digital' more than I had hoped they would - and many media companies especially - although their products are all digital now. Consumers are paying for content, but only for content with a specific value or a specific attitude. They will never pay for broad, generalised and undifferentiated content - which is where companies tend to go as they search more more and more traffic.

We are still in the early stages with data, which remains less developed than I had expected. There's a lot of it, but most businesses have yet to figure out what to do with it.

So what will the next five years hold? (2016 - 2021)   

There's an obvious overlap here with companies/themes I am investing in - at least my money is where my mouth is! -

  • Video increasingly replacing text: video content will continue to proliferate as consumers prefer it to words for most categories
  • Smart data as the most important strategic asset: whoever has the best data set (not the biggest) in any industry will be best positioned to win. The best data will be that which helps you best understand who your most valuable customers are, and how to acquire more like them
  • Digital advertising evolving from performance to brand as the more obvious brand building media continue to lose audience, and more interesting content and unmissable brand opportunities emerge. Digital will slowly find a way to tell better brand stories. Out of home will become much more digital and really help to enable this 
  • Consumers trusting other consumers more than they trust brands: brands using consumer-generated content to generate trust
  • Disruption re-framed as a growth issue: companies establishing new growth practices based on start-up thinking 

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Paul Fisher - CEO of UnLtd

Looking back at your 2011 forecasts what did you get right, wrong and what did you miss?

 Well I’m pleasantly surprised my forecasts were not far off - not so much prescient as just plotting a linear growth trend and looking at growth in the US and UK markets. And in terms of my dollar expenditure and growth forecasts, interactive advertising did indeed surpass $3.8B and that of print in 2012 and FTA TV in CY2013, so even faster than I had forecast!  

And I was only under by $1BIllion in my forecast for 2016 - online adex actually broke $6Billion (my forecast was a mere $5billion!). 

I wrote about the growth of video and mobile which wasn’t really that hard to predict. And the emergence and growth of exchanges. Little did I know at that time the impact DSPs, SSP’s trading desks, agency exchanges, publisher exchanges, private exchanges, RTB, programmatic, DMPs, viewability, and a host of other technologies were about to have on the industry I had worked in for 15 now 20 years.

I also wrote we in the industry needed to quote simplify, simplify, simplify unquote the way media was traded. Well, that seems to have become more complex, depending on where in the supply chain you sit and play!

I didn’t see adblocking coming, nor could I have done so and this is an issue yet to be adequately addressed globally that will continue to impact consumer behaviour and quite possibly advertising revenue in the coming 5 years.

So what will the next five years hold? (2016 - 2021)   

The next 5 years will continue to see the unstoppable growth of automation, and the data that produces will be unimaginably vast and extensive, and hyper personal. Those who can both gather that data in a responsible, transparent way, protecting the privacy of individuals, and in turn make sense of the data to reveal real insights about individuals, groups or segments, and present those insights in a simple and actionable way, will win out over those that can’t or don’t. I think this will inevitably result in significant consolidation of the number and nature of current ad tech and martech providers in this comparatively small commercial market that is Australia. Legislative changes in the Australian media sector will also create consolidation across current media owners.

I fear more jobs will be lost. I only hope this will be more than offset by new jobs created but I’m not so sure that will be the case.

I question whether the so-called above the line advertising expenditure of approx $13.5Billion per annum as reported by PwC/CEASA will actually grow over the course of the next 5 years, or if technology will create such efficiencies that brands actually reduce their paid media in favour of either overall marketing and sales cost reductions, or owned media, or technology itself.

I also believe in the ‘heart’ of this industry and I forecast that the $6.5 million of value contributed through UnLtd by our media and marketing sector last FY to safeguard and improve the lives of the 680,000 disadvantaged young people in Australia, will exceed $50million by 2020. And this industry that continues to give us all so much, gives increasingly to those who need the most - our nation’s young people and the next generation of consumers, adtech geniuses, startup founders, content creators, coders, fathers and mothers. 

And finally, that everybody, I mean everybody, in our industry feels they are part of their industry foundation, The UnLtd Foundation. 

That for me is worth sticking around another 5 years for!

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Lee Stephens - CEO of Switch Digital

Looking back at your 2011 forecasts what did you get right, wrong and what did you miss?

The last 5 years has been an enormous period of growth for digital media, with a massive shift in spend from traditional media that is nothing short of breathtaking. PwC estimate that 50% of all media investment in Australia will be digital by 2018. 

I hoped for a dramatic shift from ‘narrow band consumer experiences’ (i.e text and images) to broadband experiences rich with video and applications.  I also thought there would be a wholesale change in Internet usage from desktop to mobile.  All this has happened at a pace that no-one could have imagined, driven by audience and consumer demand. 

I spoke about the rise of programmatic media buying and the inevitable demise of traditional media representation in Australia within digital. I felt that there would be a huge return for major Australian publishers who embraced new technologies and programmatic buying. Instead, the traditional online media buying model has collapsed, however local publishers have lost out to Facebook and Google. In 2011, 50% of Australian digital media investment was directed to Australia’s top 5 publishers. In a frightening report from Morgan Stanley’s John Herrman, he states that 80% of all new US digital media investment in the first quarter of 2016 went to Facebook and Google. Australia is sure to follow suit. 

I predicted that the NBN would be a transformative technology in Australia by 2015. It’s contribution to the digital transformation of Australia’s media has been minor, instead driven by ever cheaper mobile and home data plans.

So what will the next five years hold? (2016 - 2021)   

If you thought the last 5 years was stressful, it’s time to buckle up. The first thing to help guide our predictions is to understand the true nature of digital media. It doesn’t actually exist. Digital media is a term we give to the way the Internet is disrupting media consumption and investment globally. In time, all media will be digital. 

In the next 5 years we can expect:

 1. All media will be traded programmatically

We are already seeing it with MCN. Austereo is investing in programmatic radio buying and OOH has programmatic trials globally through Kinetic and Mediascope. If you are a media sales professional with a publisher its time to embrace digital trading, the role of data and your future role as an audience segmentation specialist, otherwise its time to change careers.

2. The introduction of 5G mobile for consumers

Telstra has begun trials of Australia’s 5G network. The maximum speeds are 100 times faster than the currently retailed NBN speeds. Commercial availability is set for sometime in 2020. 55% of all internet access is from a mobile device currently. This will be 80%+ within 5 years as Australians interaction online hundreds of times per day via mobile device.

3. Facebook will be the world’s largest TV network

Facebook is already challenging Youtube as the world’s largest video network with no end in sight for its growth. The launch of Facebook Live should leave none of us in doubt as to their true end game. They want to own the way we navigate and consume our entertainment and connected media. Our future TV experience and online experience will be the same. 

Above all, the next 5 years will be a liberating experience for audiences and Australians. It will be extraordinarily complicated for regulators, rights owners and traditional media owners. 

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Ellie Rogers - Facebook - PENDING



Further Resources...

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