2014: a media odyssey
As the pace of change in media continues to gather momentum, Suzy Bashford looks into the future to assess where the industry will be in five years' time
Imagine a world where outdoor posters can recognise your face and address you personally. Where you can update your Twitter feed as you watch TV and the morning commute is a sea of people reading Metro on their Amazon Kindle.
Sound far-fetched? These are all trends the futurologists and experts consulted by Media Week on the following pages believe will be commonplace in the next five years.
Think back to 2004: you would have been laughed out of the pub if you had brought up the subject of tweeting, and you couldn't have discussed what you watched on the iPlayer last night - because it didn't exist, and neither did Facebook, Spotify or the iPhone.
Even the now-ubiquitous Google had only just arrived 10 years ago. Mark Howe, Google's country sales director, says: "There's no way anyone would have had any concept of search becoming so big. Similarly, as we forecast now, there will undoubtedly be another entrant to the community that no one is getting their heads around at this point in time."
But although media changes at breakneck speed, and it is impossible to predict which start-ups will produce the next 20-something billionaire and which will fade into media obscurity - remember Second Life? - experts agree on a couple of points. One, media will continue to rapidly converge and two, technology will enable channels to gather more data on consumers so advertisers can relate to customers more intelligently.
Richard Titus, chief executive at Associated Northcliffe Digital, believes advertisers' information will soon be so compelling, there will be no difference between editorial and advertising.
He says: "This delights me, because advertising will be less shouting and more talking, but terrifies me, because we won't know the agenda of the person speaking to us."
Consumers will also become more reliant on recommendations from sources they trust. Professor Stephen Heppell, futurologist at Bournemouth University, says: "We are living in a people century and a sense of belonging will become ever-more important. Brands will have to reinvent themselves as memberships, communities and clubs that value people's contributions."
The internet will become the glue that holds all the other media channels together.
Ed Stivala, managing director at N3W Media, says: "Over the next five years, the internet will become a utility in our lives, in the same way that you purchase water and power."
Stivala imagines a future where your alarm clock will wake you according to how congested the roads are for your commute to work, and your car automatically maps out fuel stops. He adds: "Your virtual diary will keep track of your shopping list and whether you are planning to watch any cookery TV programming that week. You will no longer need to think about when you need to visit the supermarket, because your virtual diary will schedule it."
The internet will also become a moveable feast, increasingly accessed on the go. Google's Howe believes this means voice search will become "significantly more prevalent". He says: "We're testing it now. You search via voice into a smartphone and you get the results by voice, text or image. Users will be able to ask a question into their mobile and we will provide the most relevant answer, depending on what the algorithm says."
The internet will continue to have a seismic effect on gaming. "The web will expand and enrich the gaming experience," says Jim McNiven, founder of specialist gaming agency Kerb Games. "The website will sit at the hub of the game, tying together a selection of interrelated games across a variety of different platforms and devices."
McNiven explains how this might happen, using the example of Grand Theft Auto. He says: "A fan of the game can log in from work to play for short bursts throughout the day, using their Facebook Connect ID. Within the site he communicates with other gamers and his progress is relayed to his social network accounts to prompt his friends to get involved.
"On his commute home, he can play a series of missions on his PSP or his mobile handset. These will be mini-games that make use of GPS and use the camera as an augmented reality device. These missions will be supported by intelligent billboard ads in the real world from which he can glean useful information to progress in the game."
Ian Pearson, futurologist at Futurizon, believes gaming will become "the point of convergence for other media", enabling players to download video, stream music, form communities and experience new technology, such as augmented reality. He predicts: "There will be growing convergence between gaming and social media."
James Kirkham, director of digital agency Holler, forecasts that new social media sites will spring up around niches and specialist interests, and that social media will become "a part of everything". He says: "You will constantly access Facebook and Twitter on your smartphone, you will be able to simultaneously watch TV, give your friends a status update and share comments with them alongside the programme."
As people get used to continually talking about their lives, brands will have to be far more transparent. Matthew Yeomans, chief consultant at digital agency Radar DDB, comments: "Companies will need to have a dynamic voice and tell their story. In five years' time, most companies will have an interactive customer services division - along the lines of Twitter -through which they can have a conversation with customers."
Location-based technology will evolve social networks still further. Robin Grant, managing director of social media agency We Are Social, predicts: "Imagine you are out with a group of friends. You will be able to take a photo of where you are and post it on Facebook. The photo will automatically be geotagged and tell your friends where you are and how they can get there."
Location-sensitive information, alongside a constant connection to the internet, will revolutionise mobile media.
Google's Howe comments: "The one thing that will absolutely change the face of consumer interaction will be mobile. Mobile will be key to the growth of search, video and social media on the web. We already know that when someone adopts an iPhone or GPhone, their search activity increases more than 50 times."
Howe predicts that mobile technology linking consumers' location to shops will become commonplace - such as Google's Compare Anyway application, which allows consumers to scan a product and gives them maps of where they can buy it. He says: "These kinds of applications could change the face of consumers' interactions with retailers."
Todd Tran, managing director of WPP's mobile division Joule, imagines a future where a consumer points their camera phone at a cinema and is instantly given show times and the option to purchase tickets. "Image interactivity is in its infancy, but in the future, you will be able to point your camera phone at a car to receive a whole host of information about it, such as video and images. The future of search is not word search, but image search."
Tran also predicts the mobile will be used as a remote control phone - it will unlock your car, turn on the radio, unlock your home and turn the lights off.
He says: "Your credit card, loyalty card, keys to your home and Oyster card will all sit in a chip in your mobile phone. If you want to unlock your door, you will simply tap your phone on it." Tran predicts the mobile phone will become consumers' main transactional tool, able to retrieve cash from a dispenser and pay at a till by having its chip scanned.
Miles Lewis, senior vice- president, international sales at Last.fm, predicts that by 2020, anyone under 40 will view others controlling their music as "faintly amusing". He says: "The concept of not being able to listen to what you want, when you want, will be alien."
John Mitchell, UK sales chief at Spotify, agrees, believing that music will be streamed everywhere via ubiquitous wireless internet connections.
He predicts Spotify will be accessed via mobile phone more than any other device, which will revolutionise advertising on music media. "Brands will be able to deliver personally tailored ads based on information users have given our database and on the information we have from tracking their activity online," he adds. "This, combined with location-based information, will be very powerful."
Oli Threthewey, business development director at Frukt, believes hologram, alternative reality and augmented reality technology will play a big part in the music of tomorrow. He says: "I can imagine Girls Aloud playing a gig in Rio de Janeiro and this being beamed three-dimensionally, so listeners all around the world can download the same music experience via holographic projections - the next best thing to actually being there."
The convergence of the TV and internet will change all the traditional broadcast rules. Suranga Chandratillake, founder of video search engine Blinkx, says: "Viewers won't depend on a schedule and there will be no such thing as prime time."
Chandratillake envisions a time when TV shows will be pre-programmed specifically for each viewer. He says: "It might be news tailored to the industry you work in or the weather forecast for your exact location. For light relief, your TV will find you some tennis, as it knows you like this sport from your previous viewing habits. On your commute to work, you might start watching the latest episode of your favourite soap on a mobile device, but pause it so you can watch the rest on your way home."
Nigel Walley, managing director of consultancy Decipher, forecasts that traditional broadcast will drop to about 60% of viewing time. He says: "Broadcasters will respond to this trend by making more programmes that demand to be viewed live by integrating their video-on-demand content into the broadcast stream and by building deeper relationships with their users through data, so they can do things like reward loyalty."
Tony Effik, chief strategy officer at Publicis Modem, predicts that Apple, Microsoft and Google will become significant TV players. He says: "Apple will launch an improved version of Apple TV linked to iTunes, YouTube and Hulu, and Google will work with Sky and Apple to offer pay-per-click models for the TV advertising. Pay-per-click will become hugely successful and will force change in TV business models."
Effik also forecasts better targeting based on Google technology, which will give advertisers viewing data on each household, as well as click data on advertising. He adds: "Targeting and pricing of advertising will be based on individual profiles, with some viewers worth more."
In addition, consumers will access sites such as Flickr and YouTube via the TV, and will watch with the constant accompaniment of a Twitter-type feed.
Damian Ryan, head of digital at consultancy Results International, suggests this could be called "Twelevision", enabling viewers to interact around content. He says: "There will also be the option for viewers to take control of broadcast under certain moderated conditions."
In five years' time, posters will be able to recognise your face and address you personally - or at least, identify your gender and tailor their messages. Consumers will also be able to use "bokodes" to gather more information about a product by pointing their smartphone at the billboard.
Mike Hemmings, brand manager at CBS Outdoor, says: "This technology will allow consumers to take snapshots to decode information embedded in the ad, which in turn either directs the consumer to a URL or plays out video or audio content. Short codes will not measure engagement and interaction, rather simpler mechanics such as camera interactivity leading to web traffic, downloads and purchase."
Hemmings also forecasts that streaming and user-generated content will feature more prominently within digital outdoor, as will asking consumers to vote about, contribute to and manipulate their advertising experience.
Simon Waddell, head of Clear Channel's Create division, agrees that digital billboards will soon be able to interact on a far more personal level.
He says: "I can imagine being able to log in to a poster via fingerprint recognition and having a much more personal dialogue with a brand. That poster will also be intelligent enough to know you have interacted with it, so next time it talks to you it will serve you personalised content."
Cinema is about to be revolutionised by the roll-out of digital, which will pave the way for 3D films, where objects appear to jump out of the screen.
Mike Hope, enterprise director at Pearl & Dean, says: "Cinema will become a place where you can be entertained and enjoy a far more immersive experience. People will come to cinemas to watch live music, sport and comedy and to take part in gaming challenges."
Audiences will have far more influence on content - the audience reaction throughout a film could determine its end or audiences could vote to choose the colour of a car or dress, either in the film or an ad. Hope also predicts "scent advertising", where smells are emitted through the air conditioning, will become commonplace and that sensors on chairs that add to the tactile film experience are "a definite possibility".
Tim Brooks, managing director of Guardian News & Media, believes newspapers will move towards "a more complex model with multiple revenue streams" - a combination of eReaders, mobile, subscription and membership. He says: "All these opportunities will take their place in a far more dynamic and diverse business mix."
Andrew Walmsley, co-founder of I-Level, is convinced eReaders will prove the best replacement for print papers. He says: "Online newspapers are not the best replacement, because people don't give websites the same amount of dwell time. eReaders give a far more newspaper-like experience: they use e-ink and are readable in ambient light. You can read them like a book and the quality of the reading experience is extremely high."
The most fundamental effect of the changes in technology and consumer behaviour will be the evolution of media planning.
Mark Holden, global thought leader at PHD Worldwide, believes that by 2014, planners will morph into "uber-planners", advising clients on everything from packaging design to new product launches. TV buyers will be renamed audiovisual buyers to reflect the merging of TV and online, and will play a greater role in behavioural targeting.
He says: "Media agencies will take on more creative briefs and they will employ a more diverse workforce, including software developers and specialist mobile planners and buyers. These specialists will work in agencies' content creation departments, which will become sizeable revenue generators, even mini quasi-creative agencies, in their own right."
In addition, a new breed of "digital relationship managers" will be responsible for building huge databases of customer data, storing learnings from thousands of previous campaigns. These knowledge banks will allow planners to create predictive models and clients will even ask to audit these databases as part of the pitch process.
Expect to see powerful channel-led, full-service systems in place by 2014; the days when all the media agency did was plan and buy a campaign will be long gone.
This article was first published on mediaweek.co.uk
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