social media
79 per cent of social media users in the UAE and Saudi Arabia “unfollowed” influencers this year due to a spike in such promotional content in their messaging. Consumers are starting to tell the difference between a celeb, an expert, or and so-called "influencers." Image Credit: Gulf News

The new decade is finally here. Will it meet our expectations?

We are already witnessing a glimpse of forward-looking governance with countries like the UAE and Saudi Arabia easing regulations on visit visas. Presumably, it will have a positive impact on overall mobility, commerce and, perhaps, migration. Many industries — including retail, entertainment or even cross-border payments are likely to benefit.

However, at the moment the whole world feels a bit chaotic, provoking anxiety across corporate boardrooms. While in part this can be blamed on the global context, it could also be thanks to automation, digitisation, along with an increased desire for control.

VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) would be a perfect way to describe this environment.

Every year, we see our industry indulging in predictions on the future of marketing or newer technologies for better reach and engagement. But it’s easier said than done. The future invariably arrives slower than you want — and faster than you expect.

To us, not much has changed since last year except that consumer confidence seems to have dropped even further. Consumers are becoming sceptical and less trusting — no longer investing their time, money and attention in brands that just sell quality products, but instead choosing those that have a purpose.

Efficiency alone won’t cut it

Consequently, brands will need go beyond mere efficiencies and explore clever ways to earn attention, drive conversion and build brand loyalty. This dynamic will help separate wheat from chaff — clients will not merely sign up an ad agency with lower rates, but those who will help deliver business results.

Having said that, we have looked at 10 broad factors marketers will need to consider to get ahead in the race.

1. Micro-influencers over celebrities

Consumers are starting to tell the difference between a celeb, an expert, or these so-called influencers to regain trust in brands. A move that will value authenticity over mere following.

2. Merging of ideas and programmatic

German Rail was a classic example to illustrate how a core creative idea can attract audiences while programmatic technology and data can personalise a campaign, thus driving engagement and effectiveness. Nearly 10,000 unique personalised images were generated delivering a sale of 2 million rail tickets.

3. Resonance over relevance

The Peloton commercial proved that it is not enough for brands to merely focus on relevance. Resonance with the audience is equally important. The ad was relevant to the audience and timely, but evidently did not resonate with the prevailing sentiment. Thus triggering a decline of $1 billion in market capitalisation.

4. Consolidation of services

With margins under pressure, marketing budgets will be tighter, compelling companies to seek out brand alignments in partnerships and mutually-beneficial collaborations. Coherent consolidation will enable seamless integration.

5. Rise of the ‘instant’ era

Ryan Reynold’s brand Aviation Gin saw an opportunity with the Peloton communication fiasco blazing the internet. A spoof was executed within 75 hours and vaulted towards 10 million views.

6. Rise of personalised shopping

The Burberry-Apple partnership set a benchmark in demonstrating a personal shopping experience with a new service, “R Message”, where integration with Burberry’s iOS app allows store associates to directly message clients.

7. Communities over individuals

Instead of focusing on individuals, brands like Netflix focus on their relationships and look at the communities they belong to. This allows them to create a global market made out of micro-communities with their niche tastes.

8. Rise of climate activism

With concern for the environment rising, we will start to witness more brands jumping onto the sustainability bandwagon. According to a survey, over 85 per cent of UAE residents recognised climate change as a real and salient problem.

9. Crumbling of cookies

With the demise of this third-party tracking technology, advertisers will need to explore new technologies, and possibly explore direct integrations between publishers and measurement partners to enable true cross-publisher measurement.

10. Rise of social shopping

Although shoppable posts were launched here over eight months ago, we will now witness an explosion of these blinking dots, primarily due to out-of-the-box integrations with third-party apps and eCommerce marketing tech.

In essence, brands that quickly adapt themselves to these changes will be able to separate the famous from the invisible ...

Tej Desai is Strategy Director at BPG Max.