Waypoint Predictor: what does 2017 hold for online PR, media, CRO, integrated communications, DM and mobile?

Earlier this week The Drum Network and Waypoint Partners launched the Waypoint Predictor in which a number of agency leaders from a range of agency and business types outlined what they thought was going to be happening in their sector in 2017.

In part two it is the turn of agency owners from the worlds of online PR, media, conversion rate optimisation, global integrated communications, direct marketing and mobile to offer up their views on what the next year will hold for them.

Online PR? By the end of 2017, it just won’t exist anymore.

The most switched on brands in our industry know there is no such thing as an on- or off-line strategy; there is simply the creation of a seamless ‘customer experience’.

All digital marketing is therefore evolving accordingly.

A big trend will be more brands putting the experience – and therefore the right type of content – for their customers front and centre. The channel it reaches is then just an extension of this, not its defining characteristic.

Media Industry: Nick Baughan, UK chief executive officer, Maxus

2017 will see the apogee of the dual media economy of linear and digital as the market splits half and half. This presents challenges in planning, trading and measurement but also provides rich territory in which skilled media agencies can operate and add incredible value to our clients.

The opportunities that technology will continue to provide in the year ahead will be vast. AR, VR and voice-activated media will all begin to gain traction and we will likely begin to see the first real conversations around how block chain technologies may impact our industry over the next five years. Google and Facebook will likely see more robust challengers in the shapes of AOL, Snap and Amazon and as a result the requirements for a single currency that only agencies with scale can credibly provide will become ever more acute.

In short 2017 will be just as transformative, challenging and exciting as 2016. We may not know precisely what new competitors, technologies or opportunities lie ahead, but I can say with confidence: if we approach them with the same energy and enthusiasm as we have this year, we have much to be optimistic about.

Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO): Paul Rouke, founder and chief executive officer, PRWD

In 2017, CRO will continue gaining awareness among senior decision makers. There will be an increasing realisation that conversion optimisation is a mind-set change within business, not just a marketing tactic. A key challenge to overcome is that the conversion optimisation industry needs to move away from being “a bandwagon” that agencies of all disciplines look to jump on.

As the people responsible for delivering online experiences, more UX designers will seek out opportunities to work within a test and learn environment, embracing the concept of experimentation and the importance of being data-driven.

Finally, Google Optimize will help bring the concept of A/B testing into businesses of every size, which will put even more pressure on education, and on decision makers of businesses to move from this tactical A/B testing, to business-changing, strategic conversion optimisation.

Global Integrated Communications: Adam Rubins, chief executive officer, Way To Blue

2016 has been regressive for a variety of reasons, but in the marcoms sector we have seen a great deal of progress. A lot has been said about how the media agency business model is “broken”. I welcome the debate because without it we can’t move forward.

It’s clear the world is moving more toward an integrated approach. While paid media represents the lion’s share of the budget, clients are increasingly asking for a joined up approach that brings paid, owned and earned together.

A major issue continues to be whether planning or execution is the priority. Media buying agencies get disproportionate focus because this is where the weight of marketing dollars is spent. Therefore there needs to be a re-balance prioritising strategic planning.

In 2017 the debate will continue and its central themes will be transparency, integration and globalisation. The win for most marcoms businesses will be finding a way to connect all three.

Ben Rachel, planning director, Soul

Direct Marketing: Ben Rachel, planning director, Soul

Six months ago the world was a relatively predictable place. Now, as the joke goes, when the USA trumps, the rest of the world poos itself. The result of Matteo Renzi losing Italy’s referendum for constitutional reform could also be a trigger the collapse of the Euro. If Italy doesn’t do it, France may well, come the presidential election in April.

Such macro uncertainty will make international clients cautious. Budgets will contract. Meanwhile, as UK inflation rises and Brexit uncertainty continues, expect a supermarket price war and lots of retail tactical sales. Airlines and tour operators will have a tough time, whilst money will be made in staycation.

This global uncertainty is at odds with the innovation in the world of direct. Artificial intelligence, bots and virtual reality will establish themselves in the everyday. In the direct area, 2017 will be a fun & innovative year. It’s just we may not have the budgets to do all that it offers at the pace we want.

Mobile: Jeevan Jayaprakash, strategist, Hi Mum! Said Dad

We believe 2017 could be a promising year for mobile AR and VR for two reasons.

Firstly, 2016 has familiarised us with and, to some extent, desensitised us, to what are two remarkable pieces of technology. Whilst that may not sound encouraging, it is a good sign, as the influential Gartner Hype Cycle would attest to.

AR in particular has moved past the ‘peak of inflated expectations’ and is entering the ‘slope of enlightenment’, where success stories have emerged and consequently, businesses have begun to cut through the hype and understand appropriate use cases for the technology.

Last but not least is the frenzy of activity from hardware manufacturers that is set to converge quite conveniently in 2017. Google has already launched their VR Daydream platform and headset in anticipation of Qualcomm’s new VR-ready Snapdragon processors, which will feature in all Android flagships in 2017. These processors bring more efficient batteries with significant quick charging capabilities, which will help to power next year’s rumoured 4K screens (a prerequisite for high quality VR).

Likewise, Tim Cook has been uncharacteristically forthcoming about Apple’s investments in AR and with 2017 being the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, the timing for a big unveiling could not be better.

You can read the full article published in The Drum here.