As we round up the last day of AdAsia 2011, I too feel inspired by Swamiji to wonder. Wonder what the ad world would be like by AdAsia 2013.
But first, a quick word about AdAsia 2011. Congratulations to the organisers for pulling off a spectacular event. I have met many cynics. But I am impressed. Well thought out entertainment, culture and food themes. By and large glitch free. An eclectic mix of speakers – a Swamy to tech gurus. Statistical power houses to one of the most powerful women in the world. A
Maven of ‘NOW’ to ‘act’ors.
Now coming down to my crystal ball gazing for 2011. Let’s look at some certainties…
Tech influence is going to get even stronger as also the influence of the I. Smart phone penetration will top 30, 40, 50 per cent across all markets in Asia, including India, as tech gets more accessible and familiarity with the category grows. Smart TVs, currently nascent, will spread widely and, more importantly, the DRM issues would start getting sorted out bringing in more content to them. UI will move away from tactile to gesture and voice control with Siri, Google Voice and Kinect. Tablets would start showing up in a large number of hands.
Bandwidth will stop being an issue of availability and more about what’s being pushed through it. Connectivity across devices will get simpler, cheaper and everywhere. NFC, RFID, Blue Fi, face recognition, GPS, geo tagging – the list keeps growing.
Search, apps, operating systems and e-commerce will all get smarter and available in the local language and context. Digital displays will take over more and more display spaces. Inanimate objects will talk to us via our mobile devices. Billboards. Airports.
And all of this high technology would be available to a large part of the population.
At an individual level, the power of I would keep expanding. Larger social networks will lead to stronger group dynamics, challenging the power of all kinds of institutions. West Asia unrest is only a beginning. Participation and co-creation will be a necessity and not just one off actions. More and more people will live in the NOW.
Media and entertainment would transform the most.
Current media owners and distributors would need a serious rethink in content production, presentation and distribution. TV content is slowly moving on to mobile devices, liberating me to consume it anywhere on my time, to my choice. Production houses will need to find shorter ways of telling even more persuasive stories. UGC will be mainstream leading to a huge responsibility for someone to curate.
As print publications move to tablets, lines between print and TV will blur. And everything will be interactive. I won’t be surprised if actually some publications actually stop printing paper and just publish on apps. A lot of age old media brands will face extinction and new ones will emerge from rural centres we don’t even know of.
Clouds, apps, social networks, UI will start killing the Internet. Who wants to wade through that massive mess of information on the Internet when I can get what I need through a cleverly designed, well curated app, accessible across any of my devices via the cloud, operated with a few verbal instructions and shared across my personal networks with just a gesture.
All these certainties mashed together are going to fundamentally change the brand consumer relationships and the role of advertising as we know it.
We will have to grapple with the complexity of dealing with millions of new media channels. People, with influence in their groups.
When content owners will find it difficult to own their content. When every billboard will talk to me with personalised greetings and messages. When news will be instantly available to all, by all, who will bother with the theatrics of a news channel.
People will go to shops to experience and then go online to buy in search of a deep discount. Reversing the current habit. Stores will probably be the most impactful and influential medium of advertising. Surprise.
Ads will all be interactive. Yet how much interaction can a consumer tolerate? Print ads will talk and move. There will be a need to invent a new form of advertising. One with static, moving, gaming, interactivity and Internet all rolled into one cross device format.
The definition of a brand itself will see a radical change. Brands deliver premeditated benefits to consumers. Increasingly, consumers start defining what benefit they want from a band. Brands have competition from their own categories. Soon an app, a song, a soft drink and an e-comic are going to sit side by side on the same online store shelf fighting for that teen’s 99 cents. Consumer segmentation will pave the way for consumer groups based on social groups. Social good, honesty, customer centricity and an ability to deliver a combination of diverse benefits will be more valuable than focus, value and quality.
I wonder how much more exciting can the VUCA world get. It’s gonna be wow. And it’s exciting to be part of this evolution, no revolution. As ad people we are great at mapping and understanding evolving consumer habits. And we have great creative skills. All we need is a will to move away from mindsets and start wondering about these shifts. Ideas will follow.
Looking forward to AdAsia 2013.
(Alok Agrawal is COO - SW Asia at Cheil Worldwide.)