The year ahead

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Pre­dic­tive pieces are never easy. You are as likely to fail in the for­mu­la­tion of an im­age of the fu­ture as you are to suc­ceed, but trends and ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy can of­ten help point the way.

Nev­er­the­less, no­body can pre­dict any­thing with cer­tainty. There are those who are paid to pre­dict, and yet they get it wrong ev­ery year. In our field we can as­sume cer­tain things will hap­pen based on habits on the rise, but it is the pre­vail­ing eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment as we start the year that will de­fine much of the com­ing 12 months.

First and fore­most, brace your­selves: 2017 is not go­ing to be any bet­ter than the pre­vi­ous year in terms of eco­nomic per­for­mance and po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity. Elie Khouri, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Om­ni­com Me­dia Group MENA, has gone so far as to pre­dict a fur­ther 10 per cent drop in mar­ket­ing in­vest­ments and most peo­ple will agree with him. He also fore­sees the rise of con­sump­tion de­fined by dis­cre­tion – driven as much by tax­a­tion, aus­ter­ity cuts, job losses and geo-po­lit­i­cal un­cer­tainty as it is by eco­nomic tur­moil.

2017 is not go­ing to be any bet­ter than the pre­vi­ous year in terms of eco­nomic per­for­mance and po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity.

Jan­uary 2017

Tech­nol­ogy will play its part, as will so­cial me­dia, but not nec­es­sar­ily in the way you would have ex­pected. Here Sasan Saeidi, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of FP7 UAE Group, of­fers some guid­ance for the year ahead and picks his pre­dic­tions for 2017:

Mar­gins will only di­min­ish for agen­cies. We as the cre­ative in­dus­try need to find new ways to main­tain our eco­nom­i­cal moat and also be able to pro­vide value to our clients. We need to adapt or die. With tech­nol­ogy mak­ing it sim­pler for brands to eas­ily cre­ate beau­ti­ful and unique con­tent that en­gages con­sumers, we need to team up with tech­nol­ogy providers and en­sure we hire tal­ent out­side of tra­di­tional agency roles to pro­vide fresh new ideas. And for those that don’t adapt, clients are in­creas­ingly bring­ing branded con­tent ef­forts in-house. At least glob­ally this is the trend; but I am sure it will pick up in MENA also.

The me­dia busi­ness will get tougher and tougher to com­pete in. More in­vest­ments will go into dig­i­tal with­out a doubt, but it’s ac­tu­ally the du­op­oly of Face­book and Google that’s scar­ing every­one. This du­op­oly will con­tinue to dom­i­nate the me­dia scene and con­trol de­mand. Not easy to deal with.

ʔthe role of tech­nol­ogy will in­ten­sify in our lives. The In­ter­net of Things, as it be­comes more main­stream, will change our lives for­ever. Vir­tual Re­al­ity and Aug­mented Re­al­ity will grow ex­po­nen­tially and con­tinue to play a big role in the com­mu­ni­ca­tion strate­gies of brands. The only dan­ger here is if brands and agen­cies start us­ing th­ese tech­nolo­gies for the sake of it, rather than for the brand and the cre­ative idea.

ʔthe so­cial ex­pe­ri­ences on of­fer across so­cial plat­forms will only in­crease. Today we broad­cast live, have 360-de­gree film, chat­bots, Boomerang and be­yond. There will be a rise of th­ese op­por­tu­ni­ties for brands and con­sumers to con­nect with each other.

do­ing well:

It’s no se­cret that cer­tain plat­forms are do­ing bet­ter than the rest both glob­ally and in our re­gion. I think for the masses, Face­book and In­sta­gram will con­tinue to out­grow ev­ery­thing else in our re­gion, and plat­forms like Twit­ter will con­tinue to de­cline. Twit­ter fa­tigue is cer­tainly upon us.

ʔvideo and its in­crease on­line will only in­ten­sify. On­line video has had a good year. We know that more con­sumers will move away from tra­di­tional chan­nels such as TV and con­sume more on­line and mo­bile video con­tent. Glob­ally, video con­sump­tion as mea­sured in time spent daily is on the rise and pre­dicted to con­tinue to grow in 2017. This of­fers unique op­por­tu­ni­ties for ad­ver­tis­ers and brands to tap into, and to use dy­namic and in­ter­ac­tive for­mats to tell their story. In ad­di­tion, mo­bile video ad­ver­tis­ing spend is pro­jected to grow sig­nif­i­cantly next year; again global stats. Mo­bile in our re­gion is the big­gest op­por­tu­nity for all of us. And it has not yet been fully utilised. t

Democrati­sa­tion of

ʔcon­tent and its cre­ation will be­come even more democra­tised in 2017. Today

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