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Crystal ball gazing

If 2007 goes down as the year of telephone phone-in scandals, editing enquiries and a relentless game of commissioner musical chairs in TV land, what does 2008 hold and how will this affect your New Year marketing plans? Ardi Kolah indulges in some crystal ball gazing for some answers...

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'Tis the season of predictions. And as marketers we're desperately keen to be one step ahead of our competitors so early in the game. Making plans is an essential part of what we need to do but it's getting much more difficult to put plans together given the turbulence in the economy. I'm no futurologist, but here are a few predictions for 2008...

UK and US economies in meltdown
The UK and US economies are heading for the worst consumer recession in recent memory. I agree, this isn't the most cheerful way to start thinking about 2008 but a friend of mine in the City is convinced the current credit crunch is just the tip of the iceberg of what's to come.

The flip side is that marketing will play a far more important role, as far as the City is concerned, as competition between brand owners becomes more intense as margins come under pressure.

So better brush up on how marketing can impact the bottom line (read Tim Ambler's book, Marketing and the Bottom Line, 2nd edition, available from and even better, buy a one-way ticket to the Far East where those economies are in growth rather than decline.

Beleaguered consumers look for escapism
It's no surprise that when things get tough, consumers want the chance to escape from the doom and gloom and end up spending more on entertainment like movies, going on holiday, etc. Some marketers are predicting a hike in sales of HD TVs as TV viewing is likely to increase in 2008. That's potentially good news for ITV and its advertisers.

Greater convergence of all broadcast channels
Broadcast TV channels will continue to be trusted content editors and retailers of choice, delivering more of what we want. The difference in 2008 is that these channels will talk to each other across the digital broadcast, internet and mobile networks.

Consumers are also likely to spend more on on-demand and subscription services rather than blowing their cash on DVD rental services that are more expensive. According to ThinkBox, 20% more homes in the UK will have digital TV recorders by the end of 2008 and online TV advertising will remain tiny but will hit double digit growth figures by the end of 2008.

Better check out free online TV content aggregators like Joost and Hulu to see what's happening to their audience figures and watch this space on Project Kangaroo.

New opportunities in broadcast sponsorship
Social networks are now a firm favourite with brand owners wanting to reach a more discerning and highly articulate audience. It's getting easier for consumers to generate and share their own content and this in turn is increasing its influence on programme makers.

The result is that indie producers in 2008 will increasingly experiment in releasing more pilot shows directly on the web and out of the reach of regulator Ofcom in the hope of building an audience and will then bang on the doors of commissioning editors asking for double the commissioning price.

This new wave of "brandcasting" could pave the way for a new generation of broadcast sponsorship opportunities on the web and could lead to some very engaging online and offline creative campaigns.

Check out "brandcasting" agencies like that are ahead of the curve in terms of audience engagement and creating a lean-forward/lean-back experience that can help drive consumer behaviour and sales.

New EU regulation on the horizon
This may seem a long way off, but marketers need to start taking account of the changing regulatory environment as it affects audiovisual communication and the implications of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive that will take affect at the end of 2009.

The successor to the EU Television Without Frontiers Directive will regulate newmedia services in a similar way to how traditional media is currently regulated. It's time to start mapping out your media strategies now to navigate through this forthcoming regulation before it's set in stone.

Visit here for the latest on the EU Directive.

Ardi Kolah is the author of 'Sponsorship Works: A Brand Marketer's Casebook', available from, price £149.

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