Blogs & Comment

#Predictions2015: The year ahead for digital

Nabil Moutran

If data is the new oil, then creativity is the refinery, says Ogilvy One’s Nabil Moutran. 

The one thing we tend to think and talk about is what’s next in this fast paced and ever changing industry of ours.  With so many different industries involved and leading the digital world, predictions can come from so many perspectives.  Whether that’s from a technology and delivery segment with the likes of Samsung and Apple leading the way with wearable technology now, or if it’s how we are now consuming and creating content with Snapchat and Whatsapp.

Given we work for brands, and have the primary focus on driving improved engagement and performance of our brands in the communication space, I would like to focus my predictions on how brands can and will be benefiting from the various trends taking shape in our digital world.

Creating content at the speed of social

We all know that content is nothing new and that brands and marketers are exploring their own methods of using content marketing to engage with their audiences. We define content as marketing that is so good you don’t mind that it’s marketing.

The trend is that we are now moving into a space where we need to create content that is good enough for our audience to want to engage with it at a speed at which news is spread and that social media demands.  We call this creating content at the speed of social.

The onus for this shift lays firmly on the partnership that brand owners build with their agencies. It requires a shift in mindset and structure from agencies.  Today agencies have systems and processes in place that allows them to develop creative that is rooted in deep consumer insight and a strong creative idea (well, at least they should). This process can vary depending on the size and scale of the project, but that variation is from days to weeks. We need to realise today that if we are to win in this space, we need to be built and structured in a way that we can create the same quality content in a matter of hours instead of days.  Here, we need to learn from the editorial approach; how news channels execute, create, curate and launch new content/news.

The growing importance of data and creativity

With the growth and importance of ‘Big Data’, we not only see the opportunity to grow business for our clients through optimisation and performance, but a true opportunity to create even greater creative ideas and campaigns. It is with the availability of data that is all around us, that we use to build campaigns that are truly emotional and rooted in human truths, rather than creating communication that is broadcast in nature and generic in its execution.

To give an example, it was with the presence of data and information that we were able to identify that over 90 per cent of people still believed women were not equal to men. This led us to the UN Women Auto Complete Truth campaign that was so successful in 2013 and 2014.

The saying goes that data is the new oil, and it is a very valuable resource. We need to use this resource to derive these human insights and merge that with the creative power of storytelling.  So, if data is the new oil, then I would say creativity is the refinery.

Creation of perfect online shopping experiences

Studies have shown that consumers in the MENA region will be spending over US$15bn online in 2015. While that may not necessarily be a massive number when you compare it to other emerging markets, the one important figure to acknowledge is the over 20 per cent CAGR that this field is witnessing.

It is no longer ‘nice to have’ a solid online presence for a brand, but rather essential for brands to not only be present online, but rather provide seamless shopping experiences. This is based on the fact that consumers do not segment the brand experience they have online as separate from the one they have in real life. For them, it is one and the same. Building this omni-channel approach for brands will be taking up a greater chunk of the conversation with marketing executives across all industries.

Building this online shopping experience is not only an opportunity for grabbing incremental sales and growing market share for brands, but creating a platform for building an ongoing relationship with the customer. Grabbing their data and understanding their requirements, allows us to create more personalised experiences and optimised shopping journeys in the future.

Real time is now really important

We know this already! Consumers pick and choose what information and content they wish to consume. They decide when, where and how. This is not a new trend but rather reality of today’s world.

We need to build platforms that allow our brands to share, seed and distribute communication based on the needs and demands of the consumer. This will come in a number of forms and functions. Here are three main areas where real time is becoming real important:

1. Product information: How is this information made available easily relevant in the context of the consumer.

2. Emotional brand experiences: Building the emotional connection with a brand through engaging content, built on human truths. Making this content distributable as and when the consumer finds it, or more importantly wants/needs it.

3. Customer service: Each and every consumer can break your brand through a review of his or her experience online. We will be looking at ways in which we can improve customer service through social in real time. These systems will be explored in much more detail and clients will begin, if they haven’t already, merging their customer service departments, call centres and social engagement teams into one big customer service centre.

(Nabil Moutran is regional director, MENA, Ogilvy One. This article appears in the #Predictions issue of Campaign Middle East dated 11 January 2015.)