Predictions: No Australian media owners, alarming fragmentation and no ads

Russel Howcroft

This first appeared in the AdNews Annual 2018. Buy the special issue as one-off here or support AdNews by subscribing here.

Our proactive front cover of The AdNews Annual boldly states, 'We are the product'. If this is the case then how will the landscape work around that? Will the debate over humans vs machines be over? Will Facebook suffer to the fate of MySpace and will agencies exist? 

The advertising industry isn't what it was when AdNews first started 90 years ago. Plenty has changed in the last decade alone, with the digital revolution sucking out revenue from traditional publishers as advertisers move to cheaper online platforms.

Advertising itself has become more targeted, as a growing pile of data means brands know more about their consumers and how to reach them.

We spoke to leaders in the industry, including CX Lavender founder Will Lavender, IAB Australia CEO Gai Le Roy and Nine chief sales officer Michael Stephenson, to see what they think the next 90 years will look like.

Russel Howcroft, partner and chief creative officer at PwC:

“In 90 years there will be no advertising. Your wants and needs will be catered for without the need for persuasion. How horrible does that sound.”

Russel Howcroft

Russel Howcroft

Mark Ritson, adjunct professor at Melbourne Business School:

“We still watch a large flat screen on the wall of our houses. There are no more Australian media companies just three global mega companies. Facebook is like Cold Chisel or Flares - a retro product from a time long gone. There still aren’t enough senior female marketers or agency people.”

Katie Rigg-Smith, CEO of Mindshare:

“Starting with the safe bets around what won’t change in the next 90 years - brands will want to sell their products and services to consumers and media will remain the conduit to do that. However, what is defined as ‘media’ and how we trade will fundamentally change. We will see brands having to connect with a two-speed economy of ‘haves’ and ‘choose nots’. People that have all the technology literally connected to their fingertip and the growing portion of society that will choose not to live such a connected life, who will forgo ‘ease’ for privacy and place incredible value on their personal data staying personal.”

Beverley McGarvey, chief content officer at Network Ten:

From my point of view our industry is about stories. For the last 90, 900, 9000 and beyond years people have told, heard, read and seen stories. Stories help us make sense of the world and show worlds we can only imagine. Stories show human nature at its best and at its worst. From real stories about real people to fantastic, imaginative stories that help us dream, think, learn, laugh and hope. Of course the next 90 years will be about ever-evolving technology, new mediums and platforms, personalisation and addressability and whatever comes after that. The exciting part is realising the opportunities these mediums create to connect people from ‘once upon a time’ to ‘happily ever after’.

Will Lavender, Founder of CX Lavender:

“Agencies started when clients wanted to use the print ads and posters that one publisher had created, within other publishers’ publications. These talented advertising agents separated themselves from publishing and created the agency concept as we know it. With all the abilities clients have, and will have, to originate and publish from within, I still believe that in 90 years’ time, there’ll be creative agencies giving clients the objectivity, ideas and creativity they value and want. I also believe clients’ internal design departments will become very cool places to work – like how I imagine Ferrari’s design department is today.”

Will Lavender

Will Lavender

Michael Stephensonchief sales officer at Nine:

“In 2108, you could be dressed by your virtual wardrobe, arrive at work in your driverless hovercraft, your sim card which was inserted at birth ensures that your body will permanently be connected to Wi-Fi which will enable you to catch up with your virtual friends anytime.I don’t know if this is real or not. What I do know is that in 90 years’ time the power of local Australian premium content and ‘big creative ideas’ to engage consumers for brands will be more important than ever.

Don’t forget, the future is just a new way of doing old stuff.”

Michael Stephenson (new)

Michael Stephenson

Gai Le Roy, CEO of IAB Australia:

“It’s 2108 and the last 2% of Australian households have finally moved onto totally renewable power sources, the NBN has evolved into a tale to shock children about days of old; and the descendants of the founder of TED Talks have issued a retrospective apology to the community for causing everyone to think they are a storyteller. Driven by consumer driven algorithms which bubble up amazing writing, audio visual and VR content, both contemporary and historical, the concept of “media” has blurred with information and entertainment fully embedded in our lives. Marketing messages have continued to support this media but pleasingly we have a new word for “native” content, along with a brilliant way to deliver this content seamlessly and usefully.”

 The Annual 2018

The AdNews Annual 2018

Kim Portrate, CEO of ThinkTV:

“Hands will be so 20th Century as our voices and vision activate networked tech systems. Machines will do 70% of the work now done by people, who will work in creative and lateral problem solving roles - not punching data or churning spreadsheets like today. We will all have a personal-AI accessed through our screen of choice. Phones will be replaced by “headsets with a lens” like we wear sunglasses today. But we will still crave the connection to our nearest and dearest, our communities and the wider world by gathering in the living room around the big screen to watch next generation TV – and what a screen it will be.”

Kim Portrate

Kim Portrate

Suzie Blinman, chief customer and commercial officer at MCN:

“2108 will be a time of technological abundance and efficiencies. Today’s working world will no longer exist, with androids and robots performing the vast majority of human jobs. Despite technological advancements, living conditions will fall, sparking a political revolution. A majority female led senate will redirect 70% of revenue to policies focused on making peoples’ lives meaningful. Leisure, media and human connection will thus become paramount. Premium content will reign supreme and advertising will be 100% addressable, dominated by in-game experiences. A revolutionised Instagram will dominate, with Facebook found deep in the digital archive. Virtual reality will become an addictive reality. Lastly, media sales teams won’t exist and sales will be done by robots focused on price and yield optimisation.”

Anthony Xydis, CMO at Australian Radio Network:

“In 90 years, the capability of the human brain in the advertising and communication world will experience a renaissance. The over reliance and hype of automation and AI in the mid-21st century has delivered all the benefits of drone deliveries and self-driving cars as well as an acceptance that the trading of personal data is a given. Ad units are a thing of the past and content is delivered by fashionable, design-led wearables and smart, stylish home integration. Whether curated audio, video or seamless VR and AR experiences, brands are trading in a renewed social currency of human interaction and allowed into our lives by leveraging mindfulness for a personalised, intimate connection. While AI has changed lives it hasn’t been able to replicate the human brain, saving the advertising and communications industry from extinction.”

Peter Kirk, CEO of Pluto Media:

“Diversity is the way forward. Heading into the future I don’t see technology playing such a massive part. Agency land will focus less on technology and data driven results. An emotional, well thought out campaign, will come back in vogue. This will be driven by a greater need to “connect and cut through”. Agencies will look at hiring outside their traditional channels in a quest to become more diverse. It is via this diversity that greater, more emotive campaigns will emerge because with diversity will come a broader range of creative thinking.”

Sarah Keith, managing director at Publicis Media Exchange:

“The fundamental thing that now underpins our lives and media is technology and its evolution is one huge unknown. The recent past tells us that unknown breakthroughs will change things we can’t conceptualise now, however technology that enhances human ability is highly attractive for humans whose mission it is to survive in this world and enrich our lives. But as computers take over tasks that used to require human intelligence, what roles will humans have in 90 years? As we heard at Cannes this year: ‘People will have more time for education and personal growth, we may have more philosophers’.”

Tony Hale, CEO at The Communications Council:

“Wow! What will happen in the next 90 years? I am not sure what will happen next week! Here’s something to think about. The industry continues to fragment at an alarming rate as the democratisation of creativity enables anyone to generate marketing content. And generate they do. This provides a wonderful opportunity for agencies to unpick a relic of last century whereby they give away their IP - specifically business strategy and brilliant ideas - and charge for commodities such as production and implementation. I expect the pricing revolution we see in other industries will generate traction in advertising. Agencies will develop innovative remuneration models based on the value they create rather than the largely redundant head hours agreements. When brilliant ideas generate long-term results, agencies should get rewarded!”

Tony Hale

Tony Hale

Andrew Double, APAC managing director at Quantcast:

“The debate over humans vs machines will be over - whatever can be automated will be. Today’s agency model will morph completely. The days of TV buyers and sellers shouting down the phone will be extinct and all media will be bought programmatically. The industry will be much less relationship driven and the focus will switch to technology and the efficiencies and effectiveness it can drive - oiling those machines rather than clients! Traditional publishers of content will have merged to survive and become more powerful. The level of predictable advertising will be huge. I have a feeling machines will have a way of plugging into our minds and place advertising relevant to what I am thinking. One thing is for sure - the advertising I see on any screen will be different to another viewer.”

Mark Lollback, CEO of GroupM AUNZ:

“In the current political and economic climate, knowing what’s coming 90 days ahead seems uncertain, let alone 90 years. Rather than future gazing to 2108, I prefer to look at what’s in reach. In the next 10 years voice search and personal assistants, bespoke algorithms and highly personalised content delivery will be the norm. Video in all forms will still be king and important to marketers. Large industries and companies will be disrupted at an accelerated pace. Technology will continue to change our jobs and our lives. What we deliver, and how we deliver it, may be different in 2028, but the fundamentals will remain the same and alongside change will sit consistency. People will still value trust, seek out engaging relationships, and big creative ideas will still permeate culture. Brands, and the companies behind them, will still need to deliver the same thing: a service or product their customers need and want. In turn, brands will need and want partners that understand their business and can help achieve that.”

Mark Lollback

Mark Lollback

Margie Reid managing partner at Thinkerbell:

“In 90 years’ time advertising will mainly be telepathic and kinaesthetic. The messages will be compulsory for people earning little, opt out for the middle class, and opt in for the elite. If this all sounds crazy - it is. We have a hard enough time predicting the next nine years, let alone the next 90.”

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