2016: less shiny?

Publisher Mary Maddever asked some industry folks to weigh in with predictions for the year ahead.
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This story appears in the December/January issue of strategy.

There are signs that the quest for shiny spectacle is reaching saturation and we’re settling into a period of being hard-boiled and gimlet-eyed about what actually works. There’s been enough testing and learning to take us to space and back, and now folks are less awed by the innovation of their social/mobile/VR/content programs. Now it actually has to work. But that’s just my tea-leaf reading, so I asked some experts for their thoughts on the year ahead.

Queen’s marketing professor Ken Wong says that as content and mobile continue their roll, human interaction and service will make a comeback: “After a decade of change to catch the next shiny object, cost concerns will cause marketers to ask, ‘What really works?’ and, ‘Do we need that?’ Expect casualties…but also a better, more rational customer experience.”

That dovetails nicely with what CIBC’s VP marketing communications Jennifer Davidson sees ahead: “2016 will be all about measurement. The ability to measure, optimize and capture ROI by channel will be increasingly important in a world where marketing budgets are flat to declining and every dollar counts.”

SampleSource founder Rob Linden, a CPG innovator who works with brands across North America, confirms the refocus on plans that deliver a straight line to the bottom line: “The last few years have been marked by tremendous dollars shifting to digital and social. Some of that is slowing down, with many calls for a return to the tried, tested and true, as well as measurement. In 2016, brand builders, particularly in Canada, will be ensuring that what they deploy is not just ‘test and learn,’ and demand that programs deliver sales.”

Maxus Canada president Ann Stewart also sees greater accountability ahead: “In the era of the internet of things, the logic and the processes of digital media are finally entering the space of traditional media. This will include real-time data, closer link with measurement – and hopefully – similar currency.”

ICA CEO Gillian Graham predicts a more magical melding of tech and storytelling: “In 2016, our industry will realize the opportunities inherent in the interplay of stories and systems, which up to now, have been challenging to reconcile.”

So things are settling into the new norm, and the old norm – ROI – is king. So is content, of course. We’re starting 2016 off with a focus on all that – the CASSIES, followed by our branded content deep dive, BCON, and all things shopper marketing at the Forum and Shopper Innovation Awards in April. And working with APG Canada and our advisory board, we now have the categories for the new Strategy Awards wrestled to the ground, and they speak directly to the challenges ahead, so stay tuned for the big reveal.

Cheers, mm
Mary Maddever, strategy, Media in Canada and stimulant

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