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Nine Marketing Trends To Watch As We Hit Midyear 2015

As we begin the second half of 2015, marketers continue to build on a number of trends we spotted here in December, such as the triumph of programmatic advertising, the new normal of TV cord-cutting, and the Millennial generation finally acting its age. A few other forecasts, such as the increased regulatory focus on data, have not quite panned out.

Don’t expect overall media budgets to shift significantly in the next six months— unless it is to dedicate more to mobile and online video. Without the World Cup or Olympic games overseas, and without elections in the U.S. until next year, ad spending doesn’t have many headwinds.

As a result, ZenithOptimedia revised its global media spending forecast down this spring, due to slowdowns in two major economies: Russia and China. But thanks to the continuing improvement in the U.S. economy, Zenith held its forecast that domestic U.S. ad spending will grow in 2015, fueled by an increased focus on online video—the fastest growing medium in 2015.

But even as we reach the seventh year of a bull market in the United States, “there still exists a corporate culture of fear and uncertainty,” said David Gaspar, managing director of consultancy DDG, in an interview with Marketers continue to watch fast-moving developments in media and technology, rising consumer concern over data breaches, and an increasingly fragmented media landscape.

The good news, however, is that the public will consume more media as 2015 progresses, just in different ways. That is one of the trends that will keep marketers on their toes as we head into the second half of the year.

Nine Marketing Trends To Watch As We Hit Midyear 2015

  1. 1. Nine Marketing Trends To Watch As We Hit Midyear 2015 What’s in, out, and what’s to be expected as the year rolls on The image part with relationship ID rId2 was not found in the file.
  2. 2. The image part with relationship ID rId4 was not found in the file. 1. Excuse Me, I Have A Binge To Keep Zenith has projected that TV will continue to dominate media consumption worldwide. But with the spring launch of HBO Now and the Showtime “over the top” streaming service launch expected this month, the term “appointment television” is taking on new meaning. Indeed, when NBC chose this summer to release the entire season of the series “Aquarius” on digital platforms at the same time it premiered on the network, it was a sign that the TV networks have accepted the new reality. The streaming services have encouraged a new viewing pattern that is requiring the broadcast outlets to develop new revenue models. That trend can only accelerate as more TV stations and networks jump on the “TV anywhere” bandwagon this year. “It looks like the big networks are finally coming to terms with the reality that broadcast television and appointment viewing are dying business models,” said Tim Maleeny, chief strategy officer of Havas Worldwide.
  3. 3. The image part with relationship ID rId4 was not found in the file. 2. Revenge Of The Humans The rise of programmatic services is increasingly seen as making media buying an automated commodity. But creative media types who can find new ways to plan across a variety of media to build a compelling campaign—executed at scale with automation—will find they can thrive in this environment. “We are already seeing a demand for media strategists who are big-picture brand thinkers—yet who bring a deep understanding of media and analytics,” said Claire Telling, co-CEO, North America, of executive search firm Grace Blue. “And with the high number of brands putting their media up for review this year, there will be an even greater need for bright media strategists.” The inclusion of Ogilvy in the recently announced review of Coca-Cola’s media account is a sign that brands are looking for creative partners to build media plans, added Britt Fero, head of strategy at Publicis Seattle. “You’ll see both clients and agencies put increased focus on innovative and useful uses of media that really serve and connect with people,” Fero said.
  4. 4. The image part with relationship ID rId4 was not found in the file. 3. Message Received As the social media sphere keeps crowding, messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, Line, and, most recently, Jott, are the new hangouts for the cool kids, powered mainly by use on mobile. “The immediacy of the technology, the intimate nature of the communication, these are the elements Millennials are craving and finding in chat,” said Jason Levy, SVP of engagement strategy and innovation at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness. Messaging apps—such as WeChat in Asia—are growing as large networks become the establishment, Levy said. “It used to be that Web sites were for the masses and the social networks were for the smaller groups, but people are now seeing large social sites like Facebook as the 800- pound gorilla,” Levy said. “Twitter has become the ‘broadcast channel’ of social, where chat has become the local cable network.”
  5. 5. The image part with relationship ID rId4 was not found in the file. 4. Streaming Consciousness Video-streaming app Meerkat was one of the hottest topics at this spring’s South by Southwest festival. It served as another sign that streaming video has conquered the social space this year, fueled by its increased use on mobile devices. Webcams and live stream sites have been around for years, but these new apps are now taking video into the mobile context, and “real-time social content has been taken out of the bedroom and into any location worldwide,” said Colin Drummond, chief strategy officer at Deutsch LA. Meerkat became integrated with Facebook earlier this year, just as Twitter launched its rival streaming app, Periscope. Expect more rivals to emerge. “No one wants to be the MySpace in this story,” Drummond said. “This year, messenger apps and streaming channels have been the go-to forms of communication for the masses, and the competing platforms have been duking it out for users.”
  6. 6. The image part with relationship ID rId3 was not found in the file. 5. Ads For The 99% As more presidential candidates spring up in the U.S. talking about income inequality, the theme of the decline of the U.S. middle class has begun to click with marketers. Expect more talk around this as the presidential campaign heads into the primaries in early 2016. “There's a growing schism in America and impending disruption for mass-market brands as many Americans raised middle-class will fall out as adults,” said Melissa Parsey, strategy lead at agency Johannes Leonardo. “This equates to a whole new generation of Americans with champagne aspirations and beer budgets, manifesting in a growing need for brands that can provide high-end cues at accessible price points.” She noted, for example, the launch of Macy’s Backstage, an off-price store concept that the retailer announced recently will launch in the fall.
  7. 7. The image part with relationship ID rId4 was not found in the file. 6. ‘Listicles’ Are So Over With brands increasingly getting a handle on storytelling—or trying to—those bulleted articles offering “5 Tips to…” or “Top Ten Ways to...” sound more dated today than the shriek of a dial-up modem. Infographics, another staple of old-school Web site content, shows more staying power, especially for B2B content marketing, but as witnessed in this year’s Digital Content Newfronts, video now has a lock on storytelling. “There’s no question that online video has overtaken clickbait and listicle content this year,” said Dominic Sandier, president and co- founder of Greenlight Media & Marketing. Even Buzzfeed, that Old Faithful of top 10 lists online, has embraced the trend. “Buzzfeed is a great example of a company that is embracing video full-force as they evolve from the listicle model into that of video production,” said Chris Tuff, EVP and director of partnerships and business development at 22Squared. “The great ‘content truth’ is that you have to engage people’s emotions,” added Lionel Knight, senior VP-planning of Upshot. “When it comes to making a point that people actually care about and remember, storytelling content can’t be beat.”
  8. 8. The image part with relationship ID rId4 was not found in the file. 7. Bye, Bye Millennials As was widely noted at the end of 2014, Millennials have begun crossing into their 30s, and marketers focused on the next big thing have begun slicing the generation to separate the adults forming households and moving out of their parents’ basements from the college-age cohort. Behavioral analytics has fueled marketers’ ability to segment and adjust their approach and relate to the right audience, said Marc Gallman, senior manager, big data, at Lenovo. But even the word “Millennial” is under attack. Many marketing professionals want to banish the term, and we could see the demographic redefined in the near future, as marketers get better at behavioral targeting and abandon easy definitions of the cohort. “If I hear another earnest discussion on Millennials, I will blow my brains out,” said Ben Casey, CEO of Spinifex Group. “It's like our generation’s method of trying to understand the 'youth of today' is to use buzzwords that don't mean anything and ascend to a new level of patronizing and overthought assumptions.”
  9. 9. The image part with relationship ID rId4 was not found in the file. 8. Shopping Really Gets Social Since the arrival of social media, retailers have been talking about its potential to mix with shopping. But social selling is a work in progress. This year, some new developments at social platforms are giving social selling some extra oomph. “With the introduction of Shop Now by Instagram and Buyable Pins on Pinterest, brands are breaking down barriers between goofing off at work and making sure the latest pair of Nike Zoom HyperCross kicks end up in your closet,” said Christina Sheehy, director of strategy at Geometry Global. “At the moment, social media as a shopping tool is more about influencing the shopper than about the actual transaction, but as more and more social networks roll out ‘buy’ buttons and other direct-response mechanisms, those platforms will drive a greater share of traffic and sales to both online and offline retailers,” added Kim Finnerty, SVP of research and insights at Epsilon. She noted that the top 500 retailers showed growth in engagement rates at Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube that outpaced each social network's user base growth. That suggests retailers are posting higher-impact paid and organic content that draws more interest from users.
  10. 10. The image part with relationship ID rId4 was not found in the file. 9. Virtual Reality Again. . .Really? We predicted in December that 2015 would put virtual reality (VR) closer to the mainstream than ever. And that trend has begun to show signs of coming true. Ever since the Oculus headset hit the market, creatives and media buyers have been toying with the potential of VR, creating some notable experiences for marketers. In late 2015, we may start seeing the first results in wider use. Some of the more forward media types have begun experimenting with shooting live VR content, rather than depending on the computer- generated images that have been the staple of VR when it launched. Creatives also have been toying with the early-release developer kits for Oculus and have started improvising, building their own VR rigs with additional features that we may start seeing in use soon. Ben Casey, vice president of digital engagement at Spinifex Group, said creatives there built a custom rig to capture live VR content and also worked in motion- capture sensors to get the user’s hands into the VR experience. He also noted a number of companies, including Microsoft, are making heavy bets on merged reality solutions, such as HoloLens. “We are right at the start of the journey into these immersive first-person view experiences,” Casey said. “It would be easy to write it off as a fad given the gimmicky content applications to date. But as we get better at creating original live content experiences, who wouldn't want a virtual teleporter machine?”