The internet has seen the emergence of a new creative class and the impact on the marketing industry is yet to be seen.
Rob Norman, global chief digital officer for GroupM, shared his view on the past year as well as forecasts for 2015 at the This Year Next Year presentation hosted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) in Sydney.
“If you’re in the media business as either a publisher, a buyer of media, a seller of media or a client, recognising that creative class is important,” said Norman.
He reckons this “maker culture” has changed the game significantly and the final outcome of this new breed is yet to be seen.
“All of the barriers to entry that were set up buy the capital heavy infrastructure companies – whether they are magazine companies or television companies – have really fallen down. The self publishing and self servicing infrastructure is enormous and it’s our view that this world of self publishing is a sustainable and a global trend and one that brand owners need to embrace. Publishers need to embrace it. The democratisation of content creation and publishing is key.”
“It’s our view that the current world of self publishing is a sustainable one.”
“What it’s allowed for is the emergence and the public distribution of human ingenuity.”
Norman cited Vine, YouTube and 3D printing as examples of how people have learned to “hack” things and “prototype their own visions”.
“A new cultural elite has emerged. There’s this whole notion of geeks and ‘code-cool’. It used to be about sporting jocks and people in literature and film but there is now something inherently cool about people that can code,” he said.
The digital boss, who is currently based in New York, has been presenting This Year Next Year since 2007. He says his final presentation will likely coincide with the forecast death of his job title, chief digital officer, which he predicted in a piece for the Times of India. That will be around 2016.
“Today’s customers are not the same as yesterday’s,” said Norman who has retired his presentations about what the world will look like in 2015 in favour of focusing on 2020.
“Anyone who turns 20 in 2020, they would have lived their entire life in a world that is predominately urban, not predominately rural. That will apply to China and India,” said Norman. “They would have had some kind of broadband since their first day at school, which would mean they would have assumed it was totally normal to get whatever they are looking for online. It stopped being the choice of the provider of content and started becoming an obligation to allow them to be an omni-channel reader or consumer of products. They would have used a tablet before they turned 10, they would have used Facebook and Instagram before they turned 10. Most likely they’ll never spent their own money on a newspaper. They almost never bought a CD, DVD or an encyclopedia.”
This generation, Norman points out, will have never known a world that wasn’t “on demand” as they treat data and bandwidth like a “human right, like water is now”.
And that’s not the only changes media organisations need to prepare for when this generation comes of age. Norman says forget sports and soap stars, the kids don’t believe in the same influencers as the Baby Boomers and Gen X.
Norman points to YouTube’s most subscribed star PewDiePie as an influencer calling the shots. The short form media revolution is not a fad.
“What’s happening is millennials and the generation that follow them are attaching themselves and attaching their influence to people who they much more see as members of their peer group and do things that they believe, in one way or another, they could do themselves. Which of course they never really did with football players and popstars and so forth in earlier generations,” said Norman.
While he says data will be more important than ever in this new world, Norman was also keen to point out it isn’t something all brands should be considering.
“Data is a huge world for us now. The transformation of the industry from a faith based to a data driven market in the last 24 months is incredible. There are aspects in which it has gone too far. It’s important that we retain some sense of context about that and understand that there is a hierarchy of advertisers to who data is more valuable than others.”
“Data is at its most valuable when it opens up new revenue opportunities, when it opens up new segmentation opportunities. A lot of people have taken this general view that somehow programmatic is the new everything.”
“There’s going to be a number of advertisers in the packaged goods area that actually discover after some flirtation or another that the costs of tech, the costs of people to operate that tech the costs of data the cost of analytics and so force is going to add so much to the underlying cost of the inventory that they would be better off buying on a contextual basis in the first place.”