So here we are, at the start of a new year. Will the media roundabout slow so that we can all draw breath; or will it speed up, throwing off those without a firm grasp? Here goes with my hopes for 2018.
I hope advertisers continue the process of taking back control of their media activities. As well as making or at the very least monitoring buys, I can see greater efforts to link their business metrics to media spend. Clients will continue to correct the historic error they made delegating all spend responsibilities to their media agencies with the minimum of involvement or supervision.
I hope the network media agencies (who will otherwise surely lose out in the age of the more informed and engaged advertiser) get their act together. The industry needs the biggest to be better. That means restoring trust through their planning capabilities and justifying why that's something worth paying for. With many changes at the top of the networks maybe 2018 will be better than their dreadful last two years.
I hope for continued success for the independents. The business needs a flourishing independent sector. It would be good for the business if one of them could land a multi-national against the might of the networks. I suspect they might.
I hope (not for the first time) that "collaboration" becomes the key media agency word of 2018. The agencies need to focus on their core strengths and recognize that the likes of Iotec, Neustar and the management consultancies offer something they can't. The opposite is true too, of course.
I hope "context" becomes the key media measurement word for 2018. We all know that reading something in a newspaper or magazine is different from scanning a social media platform; that viewing something on a proper TV set is a different experience from viewing the same thing on a phone. It's time to recognize these differences in every way, including how we quantify exposure.
Next, as last year I hope that quality journalism will (continue to) flourish despite all the "fake news" noise. The signs are there in the U.S., with some of their greatest newspapers reporting improved numbers. Here in the U.K. the picture is mixed (virtually every paper had a dire November) but there are stirrings.
I hope creativity wins over bald numbers. Clients may prefer the certainty of numbers over the risky business of backing their judgements (isn't that what they're paid for?) but the fact that most online ads suck does no-one any favors and will ultimately risk the health of their brands. Marketing isn't just about picking the biggest number.
Finally, I hope media agency leaders step up and speak out more on media topics of great concern to their clients, such as the increasing domination of GAFA. They have the platform. They need to spend less time worrying about their self-serving deals and more on doing what they can to ensure their clients have access to a flourishing and diverse media landscape within which to promote and grow their businesses.
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