1) An ongoing emphasis on “engagement.” Continuing
to insert itself between traditional marketing activities and an
increasing demand for return-on-investment assessments, engagement will
occupy a good deal of marketers’ and advertisers’ attentions. As we predicted last year, a joint task force from the Association of National Advertisers, the Advertising Research Foundation, and the American Association of Advertising Agencies
offered up the following definition this year: “turning on a prospect
to a brand idea enhanced by the surrounding context.” While that’s a
passable (and all-inclusive) first-step definition, watch closely for
more-precise, category- and brand-based definitions and metrics.
2) More reliance on consumer-generated content. Accompanying the search for real consumer engagement will be increased reliance by marketers such as Nissan, JetBlue, Chevrolet, and MasterCard
on consumer-generated content. Consumer-generated content will awaken
marketers to certain values or trends--but it will carry its share of
drawbacks as well. The first will be a sudden and disturbing
recognition that there is no standard between paid and nonpaid
consumption, and that there are no norms when it comes to the extent to
which the content is wholly created by consumers or assisted by
marketers. This will have repercussions in regard to agency-marketer
relationships. The second will be a tacit acknowledgement that just
because content is “consumer generated” doesn’t mean that strategy, creativity, or engagement will be represented, let alone attained, which will add further import in creating authentic (and predictive) engagement metrics.
3) More, more branded entertainment. Popular culture, with
its rabid consumption of music and technology, will see market and
brand leaders leverage plugging in as a method for customizing
entertainment and selling products. Watch for companies such as Burger King and Anheuser-Busch
to return to the 1950s advertising-entertainment model, in which brands
produced more of the entertainment options themselves in order to
maintain control of environment and engagement opportunities and as a
way of highlighting increased contributions of consumer-generated
4) Media planning will become more “touch point” focused.
More marketers will begin to realize that “above the line,” “below the
line,” and “new media” may help to define media types, but planning
will be based on being able to identify the following:
a) which touch point will best reinforce brand values,
b) where the brand + media touch-point equation identifies real ( and
relative) levels of consumer engagement—with the brand really profiting
from the exercise (see a), and
c) where the plan results in a seamless and continuous conversation between the brand and the target audiences.
5) Using technology and engagement to better communicate with consumer expectations.
Consumer expectations in all categories will continue to grow. Brands
are barely keeping up with customer expectations. Watch for smart
marketers to take advantage of unfulfilled expectations via such values
as "convenience" and "customization." More and more marketers such as JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America
will rely upon Websites and high-tech capabilities to accommodate these
values and differentiate themselves from the competition.
6) Expanding the potential of Websites, blogs, and the digital world.
Engagement concerns and attempts to meet or exceed customer
expectations will fuse and be most observed online and digitally. Watch
for increased development of blogs and Websites beyond propaganda,
information, and use as an electronic cash register toward the creation
of "communities of ones.” The digital world—including RSS feeds,
mash-ups, and virtual worlds—will accelerate consumer control and how
consumers access content. Companies such as Expedia, Google, and Wells Fargo
are at the forefront of this trend, which will enable more consumers to
find new ways of applying the basic infrastructures that marketers are
7) Innovation and loyalty will matter more. What is clear is that the ever-expanding universe of brands will need an informed action plan—like those of Apple and Starbucks—that
makes sense to people on the brand side of the equation and accurately
tracks what people on the consumer side really feel, really want, and
really do with their loyalty and their dollars. In the face of
increased lack of differentiation, only innovation and increased level
of loyalty will actively guarantee a positive bottom line and increased
profitability in 2007.