Fearless Forecast

It's Not Just About Technology

by Nirvik Singh

Chaiman & CEO of Grey Group Asia Pacific

To discern a reasonable vision of the near future, we need to assume certain things will happen; namely, changing habits, emerging technologies, and shifts in consumer consumption. Predictions are a combination of intuitive processing of possibilities, analysing trends, and closely watching the advances in technology.

It will come as no surprise to know that artificial intelligence (AI), despite being weighed down by concerns over algorithmic bias and morality, will increase in importance and influence as marketing becomes ever more data-driven. For the world of advertising, AI not only represents the ability to process vast quantities of information in real-time but also enables better decision-making and the ability to integrate data and intelligence into every action.

AI’s importance will rise in 2019, enabling brands to customize consumer experience on an unprecedented scale, with advertising being tailored to personal preferences and purchasing behavior like never before.

In tandem, voice search and voice-enabled platforms will heighten conversational intelligence. Content will be increasingly adapted for voice search, meaning a shift in the use of language from keywords and set phrases to vocabulary that mimics everyday grammar, slang, and dialect.

Meanwhile, augmented reality (AR), although still teetering on the edge of mainstream viability, has the potential to blend the best of the digital and physical worlds, offering untold opportunities for the communications industry. The possibilities surrounding augmented reality are numerous, with GPS-enabled, Internet-connected mobile devices providing the ability to overlay digital data onto real-life environments. It’s a technical feat that excites many within the industry and, unlike virtual reality, which offers escapism into individual experiences, promises to enhance our experiences of the physical world.

It is this enhancement that is driving current investment and will likely heighten excitement in 2019. With the start of new rounds of investment in this sphere, AR is set to work its way further into the public consciousness and to drive increased mainstream usage. Within marketing, it is out-of-home and in-game advertising that will feel the biggest impact as AR heightens an individual’s interaction with the world around them.

Although podcasts have been rising in popularity, they have remained largely absent from marketing strategies. That is likely to change as they increase in popularity and begin to emerge as an effective branded content format. Informed, meaningful, addictive and entertaining, podcasts will offer the opportunity for brands to add another dimension to their own content and venture into a new world of engagement.

The roll-out of 5G will accelerate much of the above. An estimated 20 times faster than 4G, 5G has virtually no latency (so minimal delay or lag), extremely low energy requirements, and will provide brands with the ability to create connected experiences and content like never before. Partnerships between brands and telecommunications companies and content platforms will be interesting to watch in the year ahead.

However, it’s not just about technology; the most effective campaigns are a combination of creative, digital, data and technology. Old-school creative advertising is still alive and well. A simple idea will continue to outdo everything else, no matter what the media and regardless of algorithms, voice recognition or artificial intelligence. It is the level of authenticity plus the execution of these ideas that can populate the news, dominate public interest, and be at the centre of debate for weeks. It is what makes pop culture. The digital tools can then magnify and extend the reach of the messaging.

As such, 2019 will be a year in which agencies and brands go back to basics, focusing on what they should be standing for – a meaningful role in people’s lives – and bringing that meaning to life throughout the entire customer and brand experience.

Big ideas, personality, brand values: these are what will resonate in 2019 along with the taking of bold public stances.

Central to much of this will be a brand’s ability to craft its own story – and the stories of those whom it wishes to champion – well. Because as technology enables storytelling to become more immersive and more interactive than ever before, those who manage to fuse this with success, will be rewarded with customer loyalty.

Storytelling is also the point at which innovation and traditional advertising meet, with technology dangling the possibility of complete immersion in a brand’s narrative within reach of adventurous marketers and creatives. Virtual reality, augmented reality, 360-degree video, and volumetric cinema will bring the full sensory experience to life in 2019.

If one has to name a single industry that will soar in marketing terms, it would be competitive computer gaming—esports. According to esports research house Newzoo, revenues are projected to touch $1.1 billion by 2019, and most brands will want to be a part of the exponentially increasing viewing numbers. Interestingly, esports will also be a medal event at the 2022 Asia Games, and this could eventually lead to full Olympic status. The challenge is that each game appeals to a different audience demographic and sometimes to entirely different markets. It is critical for brands to find the right esports titles, teams, and leagues when entering the gaming space. If successful, it will be a win-win for brand loyalty with the millennials.

A mention of the commercialized space travel race dubbed ‘NewSpace’, and what kinds of possibilities this will open up for brand advertising and beyond, is something to consider in the near future. The space enterpreuners, who all made their fortunes in different industries – Sir Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk – are each ambitious not only of winning this race but of also developing the space tourism further. The coming year is certainly a year of many changes in store.

Grey Group ranks among the largest global communications companies. Visit grey.com/amea for more information.