Thu, 19 Dec 2019 12:55:32 GMT
This decade in digital eh? It’s been emotional. But maybe not enough. Here’s my take on what 2020 holds.
1. More emotional intelligence
Access to endless data has driven down investment in traditional market-research this year, but we’re planning to do more than ever in 2020. Dry data can be powerful (like Volvo sharing their entire bank of crash-test data with the rest of the car industry), but I’d also love to understand how individuals felt when they learned car manufacturers have only been using male crash-test dummies (meaning women run a higher risk of getting injured). I’ll bet there’s some powerful stuff in there to blend with the data. My F1 hero Adrian Newey talks about the same thing. He’s drowning in telemetry, but without the driver’s story he can’t make true sense of it. For us, customer and channel data point to all kinds of useful trends, relationships and performance tactics, but there’s no substitute for innately human insight to couple it with. As an exuberant senior creative director said to me recently, ‘Emotion is the potion’. Yup.
2. More community unity
In 2020 we’ll go further than ever to help build meaningful communities between brands and their fans. This year we found that the value exchange pays back massively if you genuinely listen, react, reward and hero customers. Aside from the loyalty it earns, there are functional benefits too; like serious organic reach in the ‘pay-to-play’ era, and priceless customer insight and involvement that drives the next phase of marketing activity. Community building naturally lends itself to the gaming world, but our real challenge is building meaningful brand-consumer bonds in markets where people don’t actively want a relationship other than free stuff and news. It’s about finding a true brand voice, a right to speak and a total business focus that shows we’re for real. Look out for more of that than ever next year – cos the #ads aren’t cutting it anymore.
3. The return of wonder
Talking of #ads, in 2019 we saw a lot of brands trying to second guess the growing antipathy towards marketing by being hyper self-aware. Oasis, Oatly, Brewdog and Ryan Reynold’s Aviation Gin (what is it with drinks brands?) all ran with creative that broke the fourth wall, declaring their intentions in a bid to be noticed, and hated slightly less. It was a symptom of a bigger problem for marketing – the loss of consumer innocence. We are operating in a post-lapsarian world where consumers knowingly follow ‘influencers’, watch ‘content’, upload ‘UGC’, succumb to ‘clickbait’, discuss ‘algorithms’, review ads in the comment sections and install ad blockers in the billions. In a world where everyone is complicit in the workings of the marketing machine, we’re going to have work much harder to deliver wonder. We’re confident that authentic community-driven creativity is the answer, not paying for space just to declare self-loathing. We can do better.
4. Cultural integration with games
The majority of awards ceremonies we attended this year rewarded video content sitting in the places you’d expect – VOD, display and native. There were some in-game placements, but they mostly lacked any nuance or sensitivity to the culture of the game. Next year I’m expecting to see more brands try harder to integrate themselves into the cultural fabric of game environments, with more than a crass video buy that hits their core demographic. Wendy’s beefy antics in Fortnite this year were a great example, but it doesn’t have to be a covert op. If brands approach gaming communities with a genuine value exchange – something that elevates the game and delights the players – they stand a much better chance of being accepted, and maybe even loved a little bit.
5. eSport going truly mainstream
We’ll be working with the biggest names in the business to make the next step towards eSports going truly mainstream. Hardcore gamers and younger fans are already in, but the next challenge is older audiences of casual gamers who don’t consider themselves gamers. eSport has loads to offer them – when we get the formula just right. It’s astounding that something as vast as eSports still feels niche and unknowable to so many people. In 2020 we’ll be addressing that.
6. Quality over quantity
Finally, I hope to see more brands take a look at their social feeds next year and rethink what the hell they’re up to. There was a pretty compelling bit of research from Gravity Road this year that calculated a hefty wedge of UK mobile users scrolls over 2km every day. For the more sedentary of them, their fingers covered more distance than their actual feet. With that in mind, we content creators have a duty to deliver quality. I’m not talking about lavish production budgets for every post (hear our BD’s scream) – I’m talking about worthwhile, relevant, useful, entertaining, heart-warming, funny, maybe even profound.Waste, Thu, 19 Dec 2019 12:55:32 GMT