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Digital People 2009 - 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 2009'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....

Click on the names below or scroll down the page -

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Gai Leroy - Director of Research IAB Australia

Gai's profile appeared in October 2009 while freelancing for several companiesDigital People - Gai Le Roy including IAB Australia.

Looking back at your 2009 forecasts what did you get right, wrong and what did you miss?

They are not as bad as I was fearing! Digital budgets definitely picked up – the digital ad market in 2009 was $1.9B and it is now $4.4B. 2009 was a tough year in digital terms with the only year of single digit growth that we have seen. Even though dollars in our industry have spread across more players we really do need to remind ourselves sometimes how lucky we are to work in such a fast growing and constantly evolving industry. 

Mobile growth took longer than I was expecting, and longer than it deserved in my defence, with decent investment only coming in the last 18 months to two years but I can truly say it has arrived now representing 16% of the market and 22.5% of display revenue.

Video has continued to grow and is a very healthy part of our industry with strong demand and yield. The market grew 76% last financial year and we continue to see a lot of upside. The combination of video on mobile is definitely the fastest growing part of the market.

Sounds like I wasn’t part of the very first wave of Hootsuite users - social media management tools have evolved incredibly over the last 5 years but they are constantly challenged by the growth and introduction of new networks.

Brand usage and loyalty across platforms is here and a great opportunity for publishers – a strong understanding audiences across devices, time of day and different audience needs is thing distinguishing great and fast growing media operators.

An increase in long form journalism has occurred but it has come predominantly from new players rather than traditional print publishers.

Share your forecasts for the next 5 years? ie 2014-2019

 So I have to be prepared that these will come back to bite me in 5 years time I presume?

- Data driven marketing – the explosion of wearables and NFC tech over the next couple of years will give clever and agile marketers huge opportunities to provide people with the right offers at the right time. Understanding the line between consumer benefit and breeching privacy will be a key responsibility of all CMOs

 

- Smarter programmatic – automated technology is extremely powerful and there are great opportunities to improve the optimisation algorithms. Brand and business objectives will need to be automatically built into systems – luckily this is already happening.

 

- Blurring of digital lines – digital will be an increasing part of all media budgets – IPTV, digital out of home, internet radio.

 

- Digital video content - across all screens including tv will continue to offer huge opportunities for a range of different business models including advertising. The flagged level of investment in this area is brilliant and will benefit both the marketing industry and consumers

 

- More hours in a day? I know I am struggling more than ever to consume all the content I want to – the amount and quality of text, video & audio content being produced locally and globally is phenomenal right now.  If we can’t crack a time expansion device we will have to see a slowing of total media time in the next 5 years even with increasing multi-tasking.

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Gavin Heaton - The Servant of ChaosDigital People - 5 Year Forecasts

Gavin's profile appeared in October 2009 while working in strategy and development with SAP.

Looking back at your 2009 forecasts what did you get right, wrong and what did you miss?

 

Predictions are soooo hard, so I am pleasantly surprised to see that I have been relatively close to the mark. Social media is indeed mainstream and the "creeping digitisation of media" has simultaneously laid waste to traditional media business while also spurning new models and opportunities, from Junkee to Buzzfeed and The Conversation to Snapchat. Analytics has also emerged as a powerful game changer - but there is plenty more work to be done here. I expected that we would see augmented (human) decision making, but automation and programmatic buying/real time bidding have progressed more than I expected. But in my view, the algorithms fall far short of the mark and need much more work before they impact consumer experience.

 

I did miss mobile - though we have been proclaiming "the year of mobile" for over a decade now. But it's not just about "mobile" but that the mobile device is the point where the real and digital worlds collide. We're only just starting to see (or imagine) the consequences and opportunities that come from this realisation.

 

Share your forecasts for the next 5 years? ie 2014-2019

Media is going to become less about consumption and more about experience. There are two main elements to this - wearable technology and sensors (the internet of things). At the moment the technology is a little clunky, but wearables like the Nike Fuel Band or the Jawbone Up will become less obtrusive - and dare I say it "beautiful". Imagine technology as jewelry. Or fashion statement with underlying function. These sensor style devices will connect with other beacons and devices and will yield data that will be useful to us and to others (corporations, governments etc) which will prompt some serious investigations into privacy (but this feels like longer term).

 

Because we will live in an "always-on landscape", media will necessarily become contextual and highly relevant. But I fear it will also be boring and algorithmically predictable. This will give rise to new opportunities for creativity in media focused on consumer experience.

 

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Zac Zavos - Conversant Media (Publisher of The Roar, Techly & Lost @ E Minor)Digital People - Zac Zavos

 

Zac's profile appeared in May 2009

 

Looking back at your 2009 forecasts what did you get right, wrong and what did you miss?

I loved reading those predictions and I didn't cringe too badly reading it now. I think the analysis was broadly right in terms of a flight to richness. We can now label that as online video, which is already at around $100m annual spend in Australia. We're launching a play in this space this week: www.theroar.tv   

 

Better ad formats: yes, though not as rapidly as I'd thought it would happen. Programmatic will keep the standard formats top of mind for a while to come but it's also freeing up media agencies to focus on better, branded executions too.

 

I certainly didn't talk about a lot of things which have happened! Of particular note are the emergence of Facebook as an advertising juggernaut, and the massive emphasis on multi screen media consumption. Then there's the arrival of a new form of media company, as witnessed by the funding going into Buzzfeed, VICE, VOX media, Upworthy and so on.  Media is back in a big way based on a new approach to producing compelling content, tapping into the sharing economy and doing content differently to the way it's been done in the past.

 

Share your forecasts for the next 5 years? ie 2014-2019


David Bankoff of VOX Media recently said that "...the biggest media companies of this generation are being built right now."  This is clearly the case. In my view, the future of media is clearly going to revolve around video and mobile. Just look around you the next time you're on a bus - everyone is consuming media, and they're doing it all the time. The companies which serve this demand well will flourish; and new entrants are just as likely to get this right as established businesses. This is one of the reasons the funding is so high for the next wave of digital businesses.

 

Within five years I think TV will face serious challenges in a similar way that print has over the past few years. Consumers are watching content on demand, and much of it is short form. The spend in online pre-roll is growing as more and more media time is spent there. And I suspect in five years time the TV will be just another screen, and the programmatic trading driving online pre-roll will wash back from digital into TV. 

 

Maybe within five years we'll have a way to track a person across various media - from outdoor, to TV and digital?  

 

Controversial, but will Facebook be in steady decline? Perhaps it will form a utility layer of authentication only, and it'll be replaced by something focused purely on mobile, video and nearness (ie, proximity).  Not sure what that looks like as a product, but it looks like it might be the nexus of various trends I see.

 

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Tiphereth Gloria - Digital Tip

 

Tip's profile appeared in September 2009 - through her role as Social MediaDigital People - Tip Gloria Manager with Amnesia Razorfish

 

Looking back at your forecast answers from 5 years ago what did you get right, wrong and something you missed?

Wow - I can’t get over how close to today’s reality my forecast answers were. The smart household devices are not as evolved or connected as they could be, but the smart home is clearly in its early stages. Nest is an interesting product development https://nest.com/thermostat/life-with-nest-thermostat/ using smart technology to save money by learning human habits of when people are home and when they are out. My prediction on social, crowdsourced products was spot on - thousands are being funded and launched every month via Kickstarter, Indigogo and Pozible 

Accountability and measurement are still big issues in digital media - with the digital display fake bots debate. As hard as the IAB is trying to standardise measurement, there are still no definitive answers. Meanwhile marketers are stuck in old (mainly TV/analogue) metrics such as reach - so much so that Facebook started redefining its advertising packages so marketers could buy advertising based on reach. Its a mess!

Campaign success whether social or digital can be measured and defining success through measurable outcomes will definitely help make our discipline be taken more seriously by marketers. The main thing that’s been going in our favour is the time spent by consumers in social and digital channels. The digital/social knowledge base/skill set both client and media side needs to be upped for Australia to be able to progress to being world class. If there was more push from clients for measurement and then the budget to support clearly defined KPIs, the Australian industry would be in better shape.

I am really happy to report my dream social aggregation tool became a reality last year when Twitter Australia referred me to Stackla, http://stackla.com/ a world class platform with every possible feature including event specific aggregation, hashtag driven aggregation, multiple platform support (including my old favourite Tumblr) and even social ad widgets so brands can use UGC in paid advertising. 

Smart search? Well Google still has no competition and contextual geo location and device aware search is the norm.  

 

Share your forecasts for the next 5 years? ie 2014-2019

 In the next 5 years I feel like there will be a few different trends

- Wearables and the quantified self movement will become completely mainstream - Just as iPhone begat the smartphone and tablet industry, Apple’s Watch will revolutionise wearable computing.

All the personal data automatically being collected will start to change health, fitness and disease tracking. Where Nicholas Feltron started the quantified self movement years ago, he has continued to up the ante and he has been consulting to Apple. So rather than describing it as “quantified self” - the tracking of personal data via wearable computing will become seamless and meaningful for wearers  via smart apps. There will be an explosion of app development in this space, and a slow transformation of the health industry will be started.

- Digital detox - Some people will need to unplug and turn off their constantly connected devices. Others will rebel at the always on nature of social media and many will opt out. These will be in the minority, as the interconnections due to social will continue to reduce the degrees of separation between people.

- Retargeting will get more sophisticated - I know this is a pipe dream, but at least I can put it out on a wish list. Social and digital ad retargeting is so basic, let’s hope for smarter Ecommerce and even the option of users interacting with the ads themselves and feeding back as to whether the product was purchased offline.

- Crowdsourcing and the sharing economy will continue to grow - These trends are only going to gain momentum, and it will be interesting to see where they go.

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Constantine Frantzeskos - Founder & CEO at PENSO

Con's profile appeared in January 2009 - while at Edelman DigitalDigital People - Con Frantzeskos

Looking back at your 2009 forecasts what did you get right, wrong and what did you miss?


- ROI - YES - clients expect more, and agencies are able to provide more. The tools and processes have changed such that agencies are FAR more capable of measuring effectiveness. For example, validated learning and the minimum viable approach to marketing and communications is bringing incredibly rapid optimisation to campaigns in market. Universal analytics, and APIs linking sales to communications in realtime mean that we can track the short term and long term effectiveness of marketing far more accurately. the only problem is, people still mistake "vanity metrics" - what I called "How Idiots Track Success", now silly metrics like Facebook Likes and Twitter Followers - for real business results. Further, while a 50% discount on a product promoted over social media will ALWAYS gain an immediate and successful return on investment, if we look forward to the next three month window of that product or service, results are inevitably AWFUL. Hence why the short term ROI windows are actually dangerous to long term brand health. What is better is to look at short and long term benefits of communications, for example unprompted awareness, share of requirements and revenue / margin growth. These, mixed with a flood of marketing metrics, are providing a far better way of maximising marketing and communications dollars.

 

- Collaboration - I got this half right and half wrong. The bit I got right was the rise in things like Kickstarter, where people collaborate on shared platforms to get outcomes. Also, in areas such as traditional media, where the idea of using digital channels to provide "talkback" for TV and other media is very popular. I consulted to Somers Carroll (the Producers of Hey Hey It's Saturday), where we were the first TV show to incorporate live tweets, emails, content from Facebook posts and live chat back in 2009 - now it's everywhere. Where I got it very wrong was within the communications and marketing industry. The reality is: People have a hard enough time maintaining relationships with their families and friends, let alone brands. People simply don't care and they don't share. Only the most rusted on, heaviest consumers of brands are interested in collaborating with brands, and you won't get any more money from them, nor will they reach new people.

 

- Cloud computing - I got this right I think! It isn't so much a trend (or even an internal communications thing) now as simply a way of life for everyone. It's as profound a shift as the shift from analogue to digital.

 

- Conversation - I got this partly right and wrong. Yes, online conversation and content is bigger than ever - and will continue to be. People taking pictures, posting their thoughts, etc. That bit was obvious. However where I got it wrong was assuming people would be interested in talking to and about brands. As I said earlier, the biggest mistake that marketers can make is assume that their brand is one of the most important or lusted after elements in any person's given life. Loyalty is only prosaic, not passionate. Purchase behaviour only happens at the fringes of consciousness, and people tend to buy through habit and ritual. So - given that, the idea that people sit at home and simply can't wait but to tell everyone about their "brand experience" is something that many marketing campaigns are based on, and it's a horrid waste of time and money.

 

Where social is powerful and useful is simply as a customer service tool. If I have a complaint, and I call a call centre, that call isn't scalable. In other words, only one person - me - will benefit from the time given. However by using public networks and social media, one customer service operator can provide public answers that can be discovered by many others. Some channels are better than others. Forums are amazingly powerful, as is Facebook, due to their search rankings. Twitter is good but the lack of text space and the decay rate means it's nowhere near as good at providing the answer then and there. It relies on sending people elsewhere to get their answer, which again reduces the ability to scale customer service.

 

What I got very wrong was the idea that forums would be owned by companies. Forums are best left alone, and companies should very much engage on them to solve customer complaints. No need to own them.

 

I still don't understand how advertising agencies will make money with expensive content! So after working for Edelman, being head of Digital Strategy at DDB and being head of Digital Strategy at Ogilvy, I recognised that the biggest problem facing creative agencies is that they think every problem has a solution in the creative department, while digital agencies don't understand how to drive demand. Neither of them are marketers in the purest sense. Creatives are solely award-seekers and digital agencies are geeks. So, I started PENSO - a Creative Communications and Digital Innovation Agency. PENSO is about solving business problems by making their products well remembered and well distributed; changing behaviour across channels. We've only been around for 18 months, but we've got fantastic client partners in four countries, including: Emirates, dnata, Collingwood Football Club, CUB, Noodle Box, Providence Life, Stereosonic and the Business Council of Australia.

 

We look at the CEO's problems and solve them with a content (creative, rational, and reputational), channels (paid, owned, built, designed, earned, social), customer (how can we connect, how can we understand)? and company (how can we make their products better, how can we help them sell better?)

 

- Media Shifting - This has definitely happened, but there is still a long way to go. While some media outlets have been good at providing their content at any time, any place on any device, others are still way behind. As for TV rights deals - I look at Australian sporting bodies as the WORST examples of strategic foresight. The AFL had no vision of what the future could be so transferred their content and channel risk to the networks and Telstra. What it has done is to reduce the ability for people to watch the content on any device at any time.

 

Share your forecasts for the next 5 years? ie 2014-2019

 - The Rise of Marketing Science - Andrew Ehrenberg was a scientist that looked at how science had improved everything it had touched. He examined businesses and sought to understand whether there were marketing laws of growth based on observation and experiments. His insights - primarily the applicability of the Negative Binomial Distribution to the numbers of purchases of a brand of consumer goods, provide incredibly robust, powerful, repeatable and predictable insights into consumer behaviour. His many other insights, and those of Ehrenbergian marketing scientists who are increasingly influential, are destroying marketing fetishism and making marketing a far more powerful function in any organisation.

- Predictive Data / Customer Experience Management - Big data has been such a common term it has lost all meaning. The very few people who are true big data practitioners are the machine learning experts who recognise that the human mind is far too small to understand marketing segments and the myriad hypotheses that may occur in any given environment. Therefore, big data - or Predictive Data - will continue to succeed, as it will provide communicators the ability to generate many different types of content and have the machine match the content to the appropriate person, and extrapolate those learnings to others with similar behavioural patterns - therefore defining a customer experience entirely unique to that person. Imagine communications, pricing and product skews built entirely for you?

- Content Marketing - Companies need to tell their story, both internally and externally. Digital has brought down the costs of production and distribution such that it's now far easier for people to be informed directly by companies. As I said five years ago, this shift is partly here, but there's still a long way to go.

 - Internet of Things - This one is obvious - everything will be connected to the internet. Your watch will check your hydration levels and tell your phone to alert you to the bottle of water in your fridge. Your toothbrush will send you a push message telling you to brush harder, based on the food your microwave cooked for you last night. Your car will tell your heater at home to turn on while you are driving.

- Memory - Marketing is simply about good products, well distributed and well remembered. However 99% of communications is utterly forgettable. If they can stop thinking about awards long enough, advertising agencies will begin to recognise the role of highly branded, highly memorable advertisements. Currently, most advertisements are structured like a joke. An unbranded attempt at being amusing for 28 seconds, then a 2 second punchline reveal and the flash of a logo. Rubbish that doesn't work. Advertisements should and will be like news reports: The setup, brand reveal and proposition before you can click "Skip Ad", then the very branded witty bit to finish it off.

 - API Everything - APIs, Application Programming Interfaces, are ways in which software programs communicate with each other. they will come from everything and link to everything in the next few years. It will be like Skynet - everything will link to everything.

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  • 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 Australia's digital media community.

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Further Resources

MediaScapes - well-known guides mapping the entire Australian commercial media landscape - including digital media, television, outdoor and mobile billboard media, media agencies & more.  MediaScapes appear on office walls throughout the industry!

State of the Media - Launching in 2013, State of the Media is a series and annual survey co-produced by TrinityP3 & MediaScope, which aims to raise awareness of the challenges facing all parts of the Australian media trading industry.  Survey results are presented at Mumbrella360 each year.

What's On - we keep track of the most worthwhile media industry centric events, surveys, training courses and awards

20 Must Read Advertising & Media Books - our pick of the best Australian based books on advertising and media - including biographies of the moguls and personalities who have built our industry

 

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