Jonathan Farb is the chief product officer at ListenFirst Media, a data and analytics company that helps brands make sense of the vast amount of data at their fingertips, predict outcomes and optimize performance.
The start of a new year means a new slate of predictions — we were pretty pleased with how the bets we placed on 2014 turned out, so we’re back for another round. Here are a few of the things we expect to see shake out in 2015:
1. The marriage of digital data and traditional data to provide business context: As once-shiny-new digital and social channels continue to mature, we believe more and more brands will begin looking at data from these channels next to more traditional data sets, be it sales figures, call center data, survey data, traditional research metrics, etc. While finding a correlation between your digital activity and your bottom line is the holy grail, the only way to get there is to take the first step: getting all of these inputs in one place.
2. New secondary guarantees in the TV industry: We’re excited to see some of the biggest media companies in the world — Viacom, NBC — begin to trade on the value of the social and digital weight of their programming. (It’s no surprise that we’re huge fans of looking to these critical indicators to provide insights.) In 2015, we anticipate that even more networks will come out and embrace social and digital secondary guarantees, but believe a third-party standard will eventually have to step up, as too many apples and oranges measurement standards will create havoc for advertisers.
3. The battle for the video market continues: With Facebook’s aggressive push to promote Facebook video, and Tumblr and Twitter also entering the mix, all of the social players are now striving to get their audiences onto video, while YouTube vies to hold down the throne as the streaming video hub of choice. The days of letting a competitive social platform host videos is gone — native videos players are coming, and they’re here to stay.
4. Messaging services and advertisers get even more cozy: We said it last year, but we’ll say it again: with 1 billion Snap Stories being viewed each day (!), advertisers like HBO, Burger King, and Taco Bell will continue to get in on a piece of the Snapchat action. We also expect to see services like Kik, Line and others ink some major deals as well.
5. Social platforms make deeper analytics available to marketers: We predict that the data/analysis available on platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr will start to move closer to Facebook Insights-level in-depth data, and imagine that Pinterest and Snapchat won’t be too far behind as they start to grow advertising revenue. The reason behind the trend is simple: for these digital platforms to attack the big brand dollars, it’s a necessity to provide more in-depth metrics.
6. Short-form, non-linear content remains a testing ground: As more multichannel networks crop up and high–profile acquisitions continue, we think that the trend of shortform non-linear content being adapted for long-form linear programming will continue. And while this skips the usual route of TV program development, it’s actually not a far cry from the traditional model: Short-form content developers are just churning out content quickly, seeing what resonates and then adapting it into the linear model (weekly TV episodes), which remains the realm in which money gets made.
7. Time slot becoming less relevant to success: Related to No. 6, we think a program’s time slot will become increasingly less relevant to its success this year. Back in the “olden” days, things succeeded because of when they aired (two of your favorite shows on at the same time? You’ve got to pick one!). But now we live in the era of “The Four A’s” (anything, anywhere, anytime, on any device), so there’s more pressure on content developers to create high quality programming. We also anticipate the continued rise of binge watching (thank you, Netflix!),which makes time slots a moot point as well.
8. Engagement continues to become more mainstream, but it’s really just a path to conversions: While engagement is a much higher quality measure of a brand’s social media success than total fanbase, it’s still a measure of social media, not business performance. We expect the move from metrics such as “likes” to engagement to continue, but also expect to see more brands accelerating the search for metrics that map to business performance. (One caveat: for major consumer brands, this will likely be a multiyear process, so this year may be the start of the transition, but not the finish.)
9. More curated news feed from Twitter/Instagram: With the success of Edgerank algorithms on Facebook, other platforms will continue to experiment, finding the magic formula that cuts through the noise and surfaces meaningful and interesting content to users.
10. Data junkies will keep getting their fix: Over the past few years, we’ve seen a shift taking place that we expect to continue: Marketers, once stereotypically allergic to numbers and the “science” of how to reach their audiences, are now becoming more and more entrenched in the data and what its telling them about their creative. Note to the to-be marketers who are just beginning to tie up their laces: Data fluency is going to be a critical skill in the coming decade.