Now that the internet is a fixture in practically every aspect of life, smartphones are almost ubiquitous and nearly every electronic device is connected via the “Internet of Things”, we are about to take the next big step: artificial intelligence, robotics and quantum computing. These technologies are not just changing society as a whole: they also affect our work as media planners.

In my view, there are three media or market-specific and technological developments which are having the greatest impact on our business at present:

1. The increasing power of the internet giants is drastically changing the advertising market. According to estimates by OMG and eMarketer, around three-quarters of German and more than half of US digital/online advertising investments now flows into the “walled gardens” of Google and Facebook. LUMA’s Digital Media Summit 2017 addressed the fact that, depending on the study, 50 to 60 percent of online shoppers in Germany and the USA search directly for the product of their choice on Amazon, without taking the “detour” of a search engine. The major platforms have understood exactly what the users want, meaning advertisers barely get a look in.

2. In the digitalisation service provision market, however, the cards are being re-dealt: management consultancies are increasingly moving into IT, marketing and commerce. Technology companies offer consulting services and agency networks are expanding their marketing expertise to include IT and commerce. It feels like new services and job profiles are springing up on a daily basis, heating up the “talent war”.

3. The model of the “average consumer” is redundant. Thanks to several contributing factors, our society is becoming increasingly heterogeneous. As a basis for planning in modern marketing, socio-demographics offer only minimal benefit in terms of differentiation and insights. There are now far more versatile and precise target group models and it is a case of implementing and improving these.

These technological trends impact on our society:

1. Things which were only possible using screens and keyboards in the past are now increasingly achievable using voice. According to Gartner analysis, by 2020 around 30 percent of web browsing sessions will be conducted without a screen. As well as the new brand presence, this represents a huge change, especially for traders – because shopping queries will produce only one result! On Amazon, the company suggests an Amazon Choice product in 59 percent of cases – posts sponsored by manufacturers only appear in response to 2.5 percent of all spoken requests as Gartner L2 points out. This means that the only successful marketers will be those who develop an integrated voice strategy and see it as part of a holistic brand experience.

2. While still a mystery to many, blockchain is among the technologies that we will encounter increasingly often in the next few years. Blockchain enables secure processing of transactions without central authority, even if the parties involved do not know or trust each other (yet). The benefits of blockchain are clear: transparency, participation, decentralisation and integrity. However, its complexity makes it hugely complicated to incorporate this technology into existing processes. Establishing blockchain solutions in the media business on a large scale will require the involvement of several participants with different market positions. For this reason, we are probably still a few years off using it on a day-to-day basis throughout the media business.

3. It seems to be the universal panacea: artificial intelligence (AI). Three areas are of particular interest in the field of marketing: AI helps to evaluate existing data and provide brand new insights into customers and target audiences using analysis and reports. At the content creation stage, it can use user data to personalise advertisements and it enables automation of several media planning processes. At Mediaplus, for example, with Brand Investor we have created a tool which can build an impact-based plan for all campaign objectives across 19 channels. The result is a media mix from the machine, which calculates the optimum suggestion out of millions of scenarios.

Despite the many innovations, these new technologies will never be able to replace media experts. They just pose new challenges and create tasks which we should approach with courage and energy, not fear and despair. Or, as Che Guevara said using the words of Trotsky, we are living in a “Revolución permanente”.

As designers we are always on the lookout for something new and unique: something that stands out from the crowd and grabs our attention. Constantly on the hunt for the “face” or the look with the potential to take brands into new territory. Fairly often, even if subconsciously, we return to what we already know. The following three blasts from the past will see a renaissance in 2019:

1. Uromis cake stand at the international design festivals

Posters for the tenth Adobe 99U conference in New York did not stand out at first glance, but caught the attention nonetheless thanks to an interesting hint of retro: two-tone, two-dimensional colour gradients transposed onto the simplest geometric shapes and a note of broken white as the background.

THE YOUNG ONES festival, taking place this spring, uses a similar low-key aesthetic. Even though the overall impression is more figurative, the look is still dominated by merging graphic colour gradients. In this case too, the viewer is left with a sense of intimacy.

If you start delving into design history, the origins of this “new visual idea” can be found somewhere between Art Deco and Functionalism – so around one hundred years ago. At the time, crockery with astonishingly forward-looking designs could be seen on many middle-class tables. Abstract and geometric spray patterns created using stencils adorned many manufacturers’ ceramics. Bright primary colours and incremental colour gradients characterised the appearance of emerging mass production. What once acted as a reflection of the leap into uncompromising modernity now, once again, appears very visually attractive because it comes across as slightly unfinished, rough and therefore artisanal and authentic.

2. Coincidental Dadaism through responsive web design

It is no secret that, from an aesthetic perspective, responsive web design (RWD) comes across as a cost-effective, slightly lazy compromise between desktop and mobile variants. Nonetheless, technical use of this “forced marriage” can also create some attractive visual outcomes as for example on the website of fannymyard design. This new style, which some designers are now producing artificially, tends to originate from sources of error and the straitjacket of the limited technical options when using RWD. The forced wrapping of text and image elements in set stages during programming creates accidental collage-like mixes in which headlines may stick right to the edge of the image as on Julie Cristobals website or, as in a recent illustration by W. Stempler,  overlap with an image, but only halfway.

What was until recently an absolute no-no in design terms is now the new design paradigm for various campaigns and corporate designs. Here too, there are parallels with a wild period of the last century: Dadaism. The two most important characteristics of the revolutionary artistic movement consisted of nonsense and coincidence. Examples for their implementation are pictures influenced by Dadaism (to be seen here, here and here).

3. Brutal Design – the power of the ugly

While web design is still getting used to this new self-determination, poster design has revelled in “bad taste” since the 1950s.

However, the message remains unchanged: fighting convention to take a stand against the arbitrary, the pleasant and the interchangable. In the digital age, brutalism is very different from what we are used to seeing. Design’s new extremism is rewarded with the most important currency in our age of short attention spans: the viewer’s undivided attention. Stylistically, the look is characterised by complete minimalism, plainness, classic Hex colour codes in flashy colours, non-contemporary use of fonts and closeness to the traditional code optics as seen at modeselektor, Vicky Boyd, rutgerklamer and Officeus.

Typographical harmony, large-scale images, micro-interactions, carefully crafted navigational approaches or clear hierarchies: all the rules that we were taught to promote good usability fly out the window. You can think what you like about brutalism, but even its critics agree on one thing: compared to the website designs that we are used to, this design trend offers exceptionally short loading times. And that means conversion!

If you want to write about food trends you cannot avoid considering the whole picture, i.e. looking at the major, social mega trends. A wide variety of consumer trends come from these mega trends, and they develop in various directions in different industries and with different target groups.
The impact of trends on the purchasing behaviour of consumers is undisputed. Trends and knowledge about trends have therefore become important elements to help with managing brands.
There is currently more happening in the food sector than ever before. Rapid digitalisation, globalisation with simultaneous nationalisation, the departure away from what is seen as a classic family and away from traditional gender roles and therefore the structure of everyday life, climate change and the resulting responsibility for the environment – all these issues have consequences – even on what we want to eat, how and when we want to eat and how food should be packed. Food trends are never far removed from the major social trends and developments.
This makes it even more exciting to take a look at the food trends that concern us all.

Healthy food

has become an umbrella term. Lots of people want to eat “better” and “more healthily”, but at the same time don’t want to compromise on enjoyment. Generation Y in particular is very open to new concepts and products.
An ethos aspect with a responsibility for the environment and sustainability also always resonates here.
One resulting development is people not eating meat.
If vegetarians were seen as frigid individuals who you looked at with sympathy at a barbecue around 10 years ago, they are now very trendy. Even traditional German sausage manufacturers such as Rügenwalder have followed this trend and are now delighting their whole nation with vegetarian products.
This is commonly referred to in Germany as the “Ersetzer” (replacer). They are for people who are actually looking for the taste of sausage or meat, but prefer the healthier or more politically correct version.

Source: Vegavita

And if we go one step further, we meet the vegans. In the past, vegans appeared almost militant. Nowadays they are the life and soul of the party and have mutated into trend setters. New lifestyle concepts in this category are sprouting like mushrooms from the ground. It is no longer about doing without things, but rather the eating experience. Exotic recipes and ingredients such as humus, chickpeas, tofu and lupines sound exciting and make you want to try things. Attila Hildmann performed pioneering work in this field with his cookbooks. Foodies blog about new recipes, new products, new restaurants, their journeys and other events. A few dogmatic foodies are then included in the group of self-appointed flexitarians. This species goes for the best of everything. Their main interest is the lifestyle they lead rather than a political or healthy approach.

Healthy snacking

Source: Nakd

The dissolution of classic mealtimes – both parents work and the kids are in school until 4 in the afternoon – also means that people eat more irregularly. And the thing we do throughout the day is called snacking. This might not sound healthy but a whole new category has opened up. After all, it isn’t possible to live on chocolate bars and crisps without seriously damaging your health. So there is now a greater demand for healthy alternatives – one of these being bars, but there’s more: they are squeezed out of things that provided good energy: nuts, seeds, dried fruits, superfruits and seeds.


There is even an international brand for this. The concept behind it is providing raw ingredients that have been processed as little as possible and the motto is “without, without, without”.
What “without” means here differs between brands and manufacturers. However, this usually concerns preservatives, colouring agents and often gluten too. Then suddenly “hip” ingredients appear. Protein is currently celebrating a triumph. This is where you can see that one trend sometimes leads to another one. People giving up meat means that new sources need to be found in order to provide a basic supply of essential nutrients. There is therefore a great gap in the market for highly concentrated protein products – sometimes more, sometimes less lifestyling. Even the big industrial brands are trying to jump on this bandwagon.

And this is where a not so new, but still very current trend comes to the forefront again:


The organic trend was a trailblazer and now it is basically standard. Regionality and small factory productions are currently particularly popular amongst younger consumers.
The opposing trend to globalisation and digitisation is therefore very handmade – products wrapped in packing paper, hand-written labels and (individually) stamped brand logos appear personal and create an emotional bond. Countless small labels have emerged that are managing this trend. These brands come across as more honest and more authentic than the brands of major corporations. And when people hear real founder stories to go with it, their hearts fly straight for these brands. Ben and Jerry’s was so successful with their founder story and their concept that they were bought by Unilever.

Retailers have also discovered rationality as a theme are hitting the market with their own concepts. They are trying to connect customers more closely with their markets and to emotionalise their product range by using their own regional and sustainable products. Major brand owners are now responding and staging brands so that they correspond with the look and feel of this trend.

Lifestyle food

Food is increasingly becoming a way to express personal attitudes towards life – it is a way of expressing your individual lifestyle. In the convenience area there are always even more differentiated product ranges of chilled food concepts. What’s new is that a sense of life is now provided too. Eat, drink and be with other people. As well as freshness, regionality and convenience, it is also about the promise of an experience here. If the experience of dining together was a success, whether you prepared everything yourself or shopped cleverly, then this will of course be immediately posted on all social media platforms. Pinterest is overflowing with recipes, cooking events and new blogs. Food blogging has become a real discipline.

The expression of personal standards is also accompanied by an expression of personal attitudes towards life. We particularly see this in the improvement of the quality of fast food. Fast food no longer has to be just “fast”, it also needs to be tasty, healthy and high quality – almost like a gourmet train. Burger trucks are now out and about in all major German cities with culinary highlights. Or new restaurants such as Burger lab in Hamburg are founded.

Digital food

New technologies don’t stop at the kitchen either. Whether Thermomix offers a platform for users to share their recipes with its recipe chip or we can tell Alexa in the future which items are missing from the fridge – the kitchen will only get smarter. The journey from the recipe to shopping (Amazon fresh) is seamlessly networked using kitchen appliances that can be controlled via smartphone.
Nobody has Grandma’s cooking skills anymore anyway and using new technology such as sous vide cooking means that the expensive raw materials at least aren’t wasted. Grandma’s joint of meat is no longer roasted in the oven for hours, instead it is wrapped airtight and then cooked gently in a water bath for a programmed amount of time – with the guarantee of success.
This is, of course, an enormously lucrative field for manufacturers of kitchen appliances and food processors.


Like we’ve already mentioned, a hell of lot is going on in the food sector at the moment. We, as branding experts, are obviously excited to support companies and their brands in identifying the correct trends for their brands or developing innovative products and packaging concepts in line with these trends.

Shift to Post Smartphone World

A new era “after Smartphone” arrives. Powered by soaring mobile traffics, AI (Machine Learning), VR / AR / Fictionless computing are hot icons to catch up with. And autonomous vehicles, for sure!

All this techs are continuously connecting us from this to that, here to there. On December 14th 2016, Wynn hotel announced plans to equip all 4,748 hotel rooms at Wynn Las Vegas with Amazon Echo. And on the same day, Amazon succeeded their first drone delivery service with Prime Air in UK. And what else? Uber started its first autonomous vehicle operation in San Francisco whereas Silicon Valley start-up, Lucid Motors launched the luxury electric car, Lucid Air which goes 400 miles on a single charge. All these are happening day to day and we even do not have enough time to get surprised. Let’s not forget: For all that, Future is made for us, “human-beings”. Let’s enjoy this new techs and ride the comfort and convenience to the fullest.

Mobile All

In 2017, mobile is expected to stand even more at the centre of all communication in Korea,  which ultimately leads more to mobile commerce. With 91 % smart phone penetration rate (No. 1 globally as of March 2016) & the fastest internet speed, South Korean will likely consume more contents at mobile. (even TV contents are consumed at mobile)

In line with this trend, contents (including advertising) will be developed & formatted in mobile platform. And mobile advertising  will be further developed to reach right audience with more sophisticated performance measurement tools.

Tech-driven Contents

As the novelty factor of VR/AR technology cools down, creating more relevant contents will become essential. With Naver and Kakao – two of the biggest online industry giants in Korea – beginning to invest heavily in AR/VR content development, Korean consumers are sure to be presented with various, yet more relevant, contents to choose from.

Along with VR/AR, other technologies – such as AI and Livecast – are being implemented in various marketing platforms. This suggests that now more than ever, technological developments are pushing the evolution of marketing tools – something that the content creators must keep pace with.

O2O Almighty

The O2O (online-to-offline) business, which has emerged as an icon of Korean start-up since 2014, is steadily growing. In fact, the O2O service barriers are relatively low. Now, however, diffusion and differentiation are more emphasized in O2O biz in order to settle in the market.

Large platform companies such as Kakao are expanding the scale of service diffusion by acquiring related O2O services or providing various services within one type of app by combining the power of O2O service in the related area for win-win.

Personalized O2O services are on the trend such as ”Travel Accommodation” service reflecting the characteristic of single target who enjoys his / her life, “Personalized Beauty” service reflecting the consumer tent that pursues wellness and “Services aiming at 3049 target” that has emerged as the premiere of the health consumption market.

This O2O service, which makes consumers’ lives convenient and enriched, is expected to grow further thanks to mobile acceleration and easy mobile payment service.

Digitalisation has revolutionised the world of media and communication. Will there soon be a period of rest from it all? No, it’s going to continue racing on just like it has, since digitalisation – as a driving force – has brought about several exciting developments. These five trends will keep us on our toes in 2017:

1. Customer centricity and personalisation

The consumer will be at the forefront of all activity

In the past, a product and a campaign were developed for as many people as possible. Mass advertising via scattergun approach worked. Tempi passati – to be ahead of the game today, we need the opposite: to successfully address individual consumers. Advertising is therefore going to experience a powerful shift towards personalisation. “Small Data” as described by Martin Lindstrom and micro-segmentation will help contribute to this development.

This concentrated focus on individual customers, also known as “customer centricity”, will even have an impact on product design: Experience and service provider worlds will emerge, where the actual product – in other words, the merchandise – will simply be one aspect of many. A car manufacturer will then not only sell automobile models, but also complex mobility solutions. Those that are able to use their brand environment to inspire consumers will benefit from lifelong loyalty from individual customers who will possibly – for example with “Amazon Dash” – buy the product again and again at the click of a button. In the marketing of the future, there won’t be any room for “one night stands”.

2. Sincerity and authenticity

Brands need to fight for their credibility

As strange as it might sound: Brands need to be more honest and transparent than ever, especially those for which pretentious claims and marvellous make-believe worlds were devised. In today’s “post-fact” branded times, in which cynical and socially dangerous business flourishes due to fake news, they cannot allow themselves to be pulled into this ever increasing black hole of implausibility. The damages to customer trust and revenue would be huge. Instead, they need to fight this lack of trust steadfastly with honest, authentic communication. Clever content marketing will play a central role here.

3. Storytelling and motion media

Moving images tell riveting stories

People are fed up with content – there is simply too much of everything. They react irritably in response to a lot of what they see. They decide within seconds whether they find an offer good or dreary. Then, they click it away or block it. There is no more ‘neither here nor there’, no more ‘in-between’. The winners of 2017 will therefore be those who understand how to captivate their audience with exciting or interesting stories. If there is one typical characteristic in people, then it’s this: We love stories. Pictures and films are especially well-suited to storytelling, because they can be consumed more quickly and intuitively than text. For this reason, a worldwide advertising trend using films and motion media will set in. First-class work will be rewarded by a strong viral response.

4. Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence

New technologies will become standard

New technologies will leave their niche positioning as hip inventions and will become practical marketing instruments.

  • Exciting new brand experiences arise from Virtual Reality. The best examples of this are Etihad’s A380 guided tour or the Ikea application “VR experience” in which the kitchen can be examined before purchase. Advertising will become more playful, gaming experience is advantageous.
  • Artificial Intelligence advances with giant steps and will enrich and support communication. Thanks to AI, chatbots will develop into essential contact points to alleviate the strain on and improve customer service, for example.

5. Creativity and marketing technologies

Creation takes over leadership

The power of creativity will experience increased appreciation. Because let’s be honest: The enthusiasm for the technically doable, measurable and automatable, which we have digitalisation to thank for, often forced creativity into the background. Online marketing shows us all too well how a dominant belief in technology can squash out any creation and quality. For us marketers, our first and ultimate goal must always be: To ignite enthusiasm for a brand. In the end, it is a top-class, surprising idea that makes the difference. The competition can also operate technology. They are simply great tools – no more and no less.

The old year is drawing to a close. It’s time, therefore, to take a look at the coming year.  The experts of the Serviceplan Group have summarised their personal communication trends for the year 2017.

Dr Peter Haller, Founder and Managing Director of the Serviceplan Group

Public discussion has adapted itself to a good dozen mega trends. They trigger business trends and these lead to consumer and communication trends. Those who want to develop faster than the economy as a whole have no choice but to follow the growth trends. But which ones?

There are hundreds of trends and counter-trends. All of this against the backdrop of an accelerating change in digitalisation. But which of these trends are relevant to which industries? Which can I embrace for my brand? And which of these in this confusing process is the reliable guidance for my brand management?

This is the theme of our 2017 Brand Roadshow together with GfK, which is once again sponsored by the German Trade Mark Association. “Dynamic brand management through the jungle of consumer and communication trends” will take place on 7 March in Munich, 9 March in Berlin, 22 March in Frankfurt, 28 March in Cologne, 30 March in Hamburg, 9 May in Vienna and 11 May in Zurich.

Jens Barczewski, Deputy Managing Director Mediaplus Strategic Insights

2017 will be the year inflationary KPIs become the measurement of success for campaign and media performance. In 2017 there will be an agreement between AGF (the television research working group in Germany) and Google/Youtube over the designation of a common video currency. The ‘Quality Initiative for Research into the Effect of Advertising’, driven by the Organisation of Brand Advertisers (OWM) in cooperation with Facebook and Google, will deepen its work and define the first indicators. The AGOF will firstly designate reach on a daily basis and therefore facilitate a continuous improvement of the booking units.

With the associations’ initiatives the individual publishers will open up their own measurement and success indicators to customers and agencies in order to obtain greater transparency in the market. The commotion over the erroneous increase in video viewing times on Facebook showed that not every KPI should be accepted without deep understanding from the customers and agencies.

Winfried Bergmann, Head of Human Resources, Serviceplan Group

Political correctness is on the retreat

Overly cautious political correctness has definitively disqualified itself as being the spiritual leader towards populism. The US presidential election was marked by dishonesty – from both sides. You did not know what was worse – the evident lies from the one side or the awkward, fearful avoidance and concealment of highly relevant issues from the other. Someone who conceals topics, about which large portions of the public worry, because of an alleged sense of decency and misunderstood consideration, must not be surprised when the sovereignty of interpretation is lost in societal discourse. This is even more so in Europe.

Therefore, dear reputable conservatives, break free from political correctness and in the coming year engage strongly in your issues. Let us argue about all of that – from the centre of society, which would then have found the courage for free debate once more. For when we do it like this, there will be nothing more for populists to do other than peep out from the right side of the screen. And it will be lonesome again and they will go back to their crossword.

Stephan Enders, Head of Mobile Marketing of the Plan.Net Group


With the first bot shops among messengers the subject flared up in 2016. And, as it often happens when a new trend emerges, a euphoric, partly activist test phase was swiftly launched, sometimes even when the worth and meaning of a certain discovery could not be estimated. However, chatbots are merely the cherry on top of an older idea, whose impact stretches far wider than it looks at first sight. It’s all about the perfect customer dialogue.

Chatbots, together with artificial intelligence, are (or, rather, will be) a valuable instrument, perhaps the most valuable of them all. Because the trend of 2016 will be the mega trend of 2017, meaning that it will pool together different mechanics, half trends and instruments:

01 CRM: Customer service with a chatbot, whose reaction is always quick and precise.

02 BIG DATA: Only learning chatbots, with all customer data at hand, will be able to unfold their power. The evolution of chatbots will enforce Big Data processes.

03 MOBILE FIRST: Chatbots are perfect for mobile use and, therefore, ideally fit for the future – wherever the user might decide to roll: Facebook, (mobile) web, you name it.

04 SERVICELAYER: In a world of information overload, it will be vital to deliver the right information, at the right time, in the right place. Nothing more, nothing less. A chatbot will be able to do just that.

Gerd Güldenast & Marcus Person, Managing Directors at hmmh

Voice control
Google Home and Amazon Echo open up new possibilities, however still clearly show us their limits . 2017 is the year the merits of the products and services will be demonstrated convincingly without a graphical user interface. Creative individuals and developers are asked to smarten these systems and to further develop companions for everyday life or for an intelligent touchpoint in connected commerce.

Big data aids human customer service
The topic of customer service in the online world stands to change in 2017. Today chatbots are being used more commonly. They show however shortcomings where subjective feelings and emotions play a crucial role. With new customer intelligence systems and smart chatbots based on big data analysis, customers will receive a completely new quality of service in 2017.

Oliver Grüttemeier, Managing Director of  Serviceplan Cologne

Digitalisation only succeeds with empathy.

For years, we have experienced dramatic changes in the workplace through technological developments. Although companies attempt to increasingly fuse their processes along the supply chain, the digitalisation often only comes along sluggishly. 2017 will change that, because the top management currently recognises that leadership through ‘command and control’ no longer works. In the future, executives managers of successful companies will therefore be measured less by their accomplished goals, but rather much more by their social competence—the foundation for every form of cross-departmental collaboration.

In this area, Google is already 10 years ahead. Since 2007, Google already offers its employees the opportunity for personal growth and the development of business empathy with the program ‘Search Inside Yourself’. The success of Google is not only based on the accumulation of more data, but on the knowledge that the best search engine is our spirit.

Stefanie Krebs, Managing Director of Plan.Net Technology

In 2017 a creative thinker requires analytically and technically broad shoulders. While the mega trend digitalisation advances rapidly, the majority of companies have reacted and digitalised their structures. Now, together with their associates, they are facing the challenge of building an integrated business model from the emerging digital island which can also exist in a future shaped by big data, machine learning, the internet of things and perpetual digital innovation.

Those who want to deliver creative responses and celebrate communicative success must be able to develop organisationally and technically complex systems in a short amount of time. 2017 will therefore be the year of the creative team player, where it pays to deliver elegant solutions to complex questions using the input from your multi-faceted team with specialists for tools, technology, processes and people. It is no longer about the colourful façade, but the whole package.

Andrea Malgara, Managing Director of the Mediaplus Group

TV works

According to the ARF (Advertising Research Foundation) TV is still the most important advertising medium when it comes to building a broad reach and increasing return on investment. E-commerce companies are investing more and more in TV advertising. In 2015 almost every third TV advertising spot was occupied by an e-commerce product. TV advertising is strongly increasing online shopping traffic. Digital business models require a wide reach, however, to generate significant turnover.

If the appropriate special interest channels are chosen and screen planning is optimal for an advertising campaign, the advertising recall, brand awareness and the conversion rate all significantly increase. Through brand-unique and innovative media strategy, we can achieve a 20 percent increase in turnover with a targeted media mix.

Kevin Proesel, Managing Director of Saint Elmo’s Berlin

In 2017, IOT (Internet of Things) and clever ideas are changing retail marketing.

We have observed that the classic sales funnel of companies is changing: through the technology shift and the increase in use of smartphones, customers themselves are becoming points of sales and points of information, because they are networked everywhere and can obtain information as well as provide information at any time. As a result of this, personalised and networked campaigns that are implemented close to consumers will be the most convincing in the future. In 2017, we will be seeing the first campaigns which will use networked Smart Buttons as marketing incentives in the Internet of Things.

‘Smart Button’? It sounds smart, and it is smart: in advanced retail campaigns, a branded button acts as a pivot point. It is not like the dash buttons on Amazon, which act purely as facilitators of a networked ordering process, but it is a starting point for a networked campaign storytelling, which unfolds once the customer connects their button to their smartphone—and once they press the Smart Button. Predefined processes now tell a story, which, through several chapters, leads the customer to more and more touch points of a company: always through the simple push of a button. In this way, a guided tour takes place from home to the retail department, which constantly further qualifies the customer and allows campaigns to be experienced fully networked. It is virtually engagement marketing par excellence, since it goes beyond only displaying content and includes the user directly: ‘2017? Press the button and see what happens.’

Dominik Schütte, Managing Director of Serviceplan Content Marketing

Content quality instead of quantity

In 2017, people will ultimately comprehend that the purpose of content marketing goes beyond simply selling. Therefore, companies will be more confident in finding narrative niches outside their brand. In the process, they will be astonished to find out that people actually have their own interests and that it is exactly through these interests that they can be reached and turned into customers. A win-win situation, for both companies and the people out there. Storytelling for the masses – yes, thank you. But make it qualitative, relevant and, please, don’t be annoying.

Klaus Schwab, Managing Director of the Plan.Net Group

I believe that 2017 will bring along two highlights:

First of all, it will be the year when voice command becomes widely adopted, meaning that digital services will be triggered through speech. And this will be the collapse of technical interfaces, such as displays and keyboards.

Secondly, we will witness companies developing platform strategies inside different branches. Namely, they will be more open to start-ups and work together, in order to facilitate their clients’ access to specific services within their own ecosystem.

Julian Simons, Managing Director of mediascale and PREX Programmatic Exchange

With the progressing digitalisation of the use of media, and even in most areas of life, the long known types of borders between offline and online advertising channels are beginning to blur. More and more advertising spaces are being digitalised, are therefore accessible via IP, and are going ‘online’. Subsequently, this also means that programmatic advertising will lead to an increased distribution and control of channels such as radio, out-of-home, and in the end, television. This will lead to big changes for the advertising market.

The tremendous opportunities of comprehensive control and of addressing someone individually are not without great challenges. Business models change and become more complex. Strategies and management logics that make it possible for the new complexity to be meaningful to use, have to be found to prevent campaigns from losing impact in an aimless atomisation. This change must always keep the interests of the user and their data protection concerns in mind, otherwise it will not be successful.

Klaus Weise, Managing Director of Serviceplan Public Relations

Digital enraged citizens are changing the world

Great Britain is to exit the EU, Donald Trump is moving into the White House. Who would have believed, last year, that any of it would happen? The two results are neither coincidences, nor singular political accidents. They are the beacon of a world quake that has just begun. The triggering force of that quake is the fear caused by a change in the world, brought along by digitalisation and globalisation. Similar fears have always existed, but today they are a million times amplified and multiplied through social media. Fuelled by shady hate speeches and sparkled by social bots and opinion robots, whose sole purpose is to rile up the crowds. In 2017, dealing with digital enraged citizens will be the main challenge of political parties, unions, companies and brands.

First published in Red Bulletin Innovator.
Interview: Christoph Kristandl

Creativity is elusive. Only too well we know of situations where it abandons us. If we need an idea, if we brood over the solution to a problem – simply nothing comes to mind. It happens. But what if creativity is your occupation? If you have to drive yourself to peak creative performance every day in order to create something new, something as spectacular as possible, and to convey a message as well. And what if it’s a message that nobody wants to see? – Advertising. A conversation with the multiple award-winning Matthias Harbeck.

The Red Bulletin Innovator: You were honoured with more than 600 national and international awards, including 22 Lions in Cannes. Do such honours mean something to you?

Matthias Harbeck: Naturally. If you win a Golden Lion, that’s a feather in your cap. There are people who say that Cannes is something like a parallel society. The true needs of the client would not count for anything there, and it’s a vanity exhibition of creatives who celebrate themselves there. There is even a grain of truth in that. But apart from the fact that quite excellent work from day-to-day business is also honoured in Cannes, you have to view it as similar to prototypes at an auto show or the haute couture of the great fashion shows. What you see there you will never encounter on the street.

Why produce it then?

What’s extremely successful moves the industry forward. Sometimes the idea is so extraordinary, often the technology too. It works with media innovations that can set trends for everyday life.

With what, for example, have you been successful in that regard?

With real-time advertising, for example. With Serviceplan we were able to score a coup with that a few years ago: over 90 minutes of the Champion’s League Match of Arsenal against FC Bayern we switched six 60-second live spots directly into commercial blocks of Free-TV channels. You’re watching normal advertising, for example, on PRO 7, when suddenly an announcement comes, the game is seen live for 40 seconds, and at the end, the Sky-Order Hotline appears, so that in the future you can see such games completely live. The response was huge. Also because, of all things, in one of the slots Lukas Podalski scored the goal which left Arsenal only one down at 1:2!  The idea was relatively simple, but the technical implementation was complex. But that’s the sort of thing we’re attempting: something extraordinary, which makes the industry sit up and take notice and which can then take a pioneering role, too.

What advertising trends can we expect in the coming years?

Consider the films in our newsfeeds on Facebook, where you only hear the sound when you intentionally click. That’s not a trend that comes from advertising, but it changes the thinking of the creatives. You have to succeed in being so good in the first two, three seconds that people click on that video. That also means that the sources of inspiration change. You focus on silent film, for example, and why Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin were so good at it. Perhaps we’ll soon also produce moving images in 15 different versions in order to optimally satisfy users’ differing expectation profiles and to be able to address them digitally in individual ways. And then there are hardly any campaigns that are originally made for the mobile phone screen. That is a big issue.

“Advertising must be so good that, ideally, people even actively search it out.”

How do you deal with the fact that nobody wants to see advertising?

It is a step forward that increasingly we can provide people with customised content. In the past that was not possible technologically. But that does not make good ideas superfluous, on the contrary. More than ever, we have to surprise and involve people through a new kind of staging. The trouble is that we’re in a permanent competition with thousands of advertising messages, indeed, messages of every sort. On top of that is the public’s practised avoidance of advertising. Therefore, the good idea, the great story, the fascinating staging is more important than ever. Advertising must be so good that people don’t want to just see it and share it, but rather, ideally, they even actively search it out because people are talking about it.

With all the staging, doesn’t the product sometimes get left behind?

That is the great challenge. On the one hand, communication has to become ever more entertaining. On the other hand, there are clients who pay for it and say, “Now where is my product that I want to sell?” Just to say that a screw costs 2.99 Euros is not communication, that’s information. You have to do a balancing act: to maintain contact with the brand and at the same time deliver a certain factor of desire.

This year, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) numbered more than 3.800 exhibitors and over 170.000 visitors. In addition, keynotes came from companies like Netflix, Samsung and IBM. The trade fair in Las Vegas is the worldwide biggest exhibition of the Consumer Electronics Industry. Anyone who’s anyone and wants to present a new product, a new technique or just a crazy new knick-knack, makes it there.
It is, at the same time, also true if you summed up this year by saying: one might not necessarily have to take on the long journey in order to see the individual exhibits live. There are rather developments than really new, breathtaking products. And if you were pulled under the spell a little, it would be in particular for the more trial products such as interactive kitchens, the VW Budd-e or a fantastic new Screen from Panasonic, that was incorporated in a shelf unit, which at the touch of a button would be completely hidden and left behind only a panel with beautiful vases. Or a wardrobe, in which someone throws his washing, which would then be automatically folded. At least in theory, it is truly great, even though they are only trials.

Why it is still worth seeing, has less to do with the individual products that will be presented there. In reality it is the feeling that one takes away from such an event: for trends, for the state of affairs and with this what potential relevance that technologies will soon have.
For me it was decisively less about the shining individual examples from the Virtual and Augmented Reality, Wearables or Connected Everything areas, that ranged from the home, through the car, right up to networked toy ducks. This can indeed be much more conveniently gathered from the relevant trade press in a short summary.
It is more the impression between the lines – since these fields of technology were justifiably awarded a niche role, the offer is nowadays universal. Most notably, networking appliances got squeezed straight out of their niche and into the market. It is no longer only the nerds who dim their light bulbs at home with an App. Max Mustermann is now also one the verge of a Smart Home Shelf, in which the offer is no longer assessable and will also no longer be exorbitant. The masses are doing it.

These will be the impacts for us as a communications industry – if the “Internet of Things” actually arrives in our lives now, if everything is networked these days, and if we have to confirm simultaneously that it will even leave its mark on advertising.

So let’s gear ourselves up for the fact that everything is able to communicate. However it will only communicate thus far as the consumer will approve in future.

The user will want to take more and more control over which news and content reach him or at the least he wants to have the feeling of control. Advertising will then often no longer be noticed as such at all. The forerunners are perhaps InGame-Ads or Product Placements in games. In the world of mobile marketing you always should have already asked: Where is the added value? And does it justify the investments for the sender as well as for the user.

For us this means: Advertising as a Service and Digital Products and Services will be central media and formats in the near future.

After a whole generation that was “spoilt” with free Online-Content in the boom times of the stationary web, a new generation is growing up already with digital pay-worlds: Games, Spotify, Netflix and Apple iTunes to name a few examples. If the content is good, it will be paid.
In this world, brands can develop new sources of digital revenue for themselves. In the Internet of Things (IoT) there is also still abundant space for good concepts. At the same time, it must not always be the Mega-Innovation. Often the potential new use or combination of various, existing solutions will already generate a product advantage – or an especially user-friendly interface. You could smell these new chances at the CES at every turn, creating a positive mood within a market of innovations and disrupters.
Agencies that have realized this are also one step ahead tomorrow. They are very well situated as partners for these new challenges anyway. Target audience analysts, technology specialists and creatives bring with them the perfect setup for the design of the networked communication of the future.