Here comes 2019. Brace your­selves

Campaign Middle East - - NEWS -

Wel­come to an­nual pre­dic­tions is­sue. We have played Scrooge to the in­dus­try’s Bob Cratchit, ask­ing a lot of con­trib­u­tors to spend their Christ­mas breaks chan­nel­ing the Ghost of Ad­ver­tis­ing Fu­ture and pre­dict­ing what 2019 will hold for the in­dus­try. These pre­dic­tions are fas­ci­nat­ing on a num­ber of lev­els. They show us what the peo­ple shap­ing the in­dus­try are think­ing, their hopes and their ex­pec­ta­tions. They help us plan bet­ter for the year ahead. And when not ev­ery sin­gle pre­dic­tion in these pages comes true, the rest of us can put on our told-you-so faces, while se­cretly be­ing re­lieved it wasn’t us tasked with nigh-im­pos­si­ble sooth­say­ing for an in­dus­try that has never been so un­pre­dictable.

While there are some fas­ci­nat­ing wild- card pro­jec­tions ( more beards is perhaps my favourite), there are also themes that run through this is­sue, top­ics and con­cerns that are shared by many of our con­trib­u­tors.

For a start – and this should come as no sur­prise – no one is ex­pect­ing 2019 to be easy. Bud­gets will con­tinue to be squeezed, as clients cut their spend and look for more ef­fi­cien­cies. This will have im­pli­ca­tions through the whole ecosys­tem.

2019 is likely to be more tac­ti­cal than strate­gic. In other words, clients will be look­ing for short­term sav­ings and prof­its over long-term brand­build­ing. That’s not to say that there won’t be room for big ideas, but be pre­pared to be op­por­tunis­tic.

There are likely to be more merg­ers and con­sol­i­da­tions among agen­cies as hold­ing groups look for more ef­fi­cien­cies and ways to bring their tech and cre­ative of­fer­ings closer together. This will play to clients look­ing for sim­pli­fied agency mod­els rather than hav­ing to jug­gle mul­ti­ple sup­pli­ers. Some clients will take skills in- house – and, since there is likely to be more re­struc­tur­ing among agen­cies, there will be tal­ent to spare.

A cou­ple of con­trib­u­tors talk about con­sumer­centric­ity mov­ing ahead of brand- cen­tric­ity, as mar­keters work out how to join their cus­tomers’ con­ver­sa­tions rather than in­ter­rupt­ing them. This will be­come es­sen­tial in an age of ad- block­ers and increasing con­sumer choice, and 2019’s learn­ing curve will in­clude les­sons on how not to drive peo­ple away.

This will even ex­tend to in­flu­encer strat­egy, which is not go­ing to go away any time soon but will ma­ture as brands develop long-term strate­gies and re­la­tion­ships with in­flu­encers and their fol­low­ers, re­claim­ing an in­tegrity dam­aged in re­cent years by copy-paste spon­sored posts.

It’s go­ing to be a tough year, it’s go­ing to be an in­ter­est­ing one, and my per­sonal pre­dic­tion is that a lot will change. That’s a safe pre­dic­tion.

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