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Here You Go: 2015 AdLand Expectations
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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You knew it was coming.

As 2015 quickly approaches, many AdLand observers have put their two cents in about how they think 2015 will turn out for AdLand. With the U.S. job market improving, the stock market continually hitting new heights, and new markets opening up for more business, things look pretty good. But what trends should we look for in 2015?

Before we start, we dug up our 2013 post about expectations for 2014, and we want to evaluate our performance. Let's face it: Marketers are all about that ROI; how did we do?

Expectation 1: 

Agencies continue to fight for big client relevancy.

When we determined that, we covered the announcement that Unilever was cutting 800 marketing and advertising positions along with slimming its agency roster. This was actually pretty accurate. In 2014, the "in-house" agency gained huge strides in corporate America. Agencies are using mergers and acquisitions to bolster offerings and services in order to compete with the agency hate spreading across the big brands. We saw several big brands, like Microsoft and others, slim marketing departments or change agency rosters. 

Expectation 2:

Mobile becomes mandatory.

We saw significant attention turned to mobile marketing activities, particularly in terms of how to broker the consumer–brand experience. In our observations, the fashion industry and the sports industry seemed to be the most successful in creating worthwhile experiences in the mobile realm. The "second screen" helped consumers turn into participants. 

Expectation 3:

Less dependence on the U.S. market.

We definitely saw a shift in advertising dollars away from the U.S. market, but to say "less dependence" would be a stretch. We saw big purchases in China, Brazil, India, and Indonesia, but nothing that will shake the U.S. market off its marketing throne. The international economic slowdown, especially in Europe and China, secured America's spot as still extremely necessary.

So we went 2-1. Not too shabby. Here are three more predictions for 2015.

Big Data? Not So Much
Reports have just started to surface about the double-edged sword that is Big Data. Can a mountain of data help brands connect to consumers? Absolutely. Must marketers and strategists be properly trained to mine that data and have time to analyze it in order to turn the data into useful information? Absolutely. Will brands invest in the training and staffing in order to make that happen; to see if the data collected will even help? Doubtful. Some brands that have already developed a framework to incorporate Big Data into processes will continue to use it, but there will be a shift away from the love of data. We expect more digital fragmentation in order to balance the loss of data. Audiences will get smaller, but the messages — from good brands — will get more specific and targeted.

Consolidation Picks Up Speed
Though 2014 opened with the failed merger of Omnicom–Publicis, the rest of the year was bookmarked with mid-size and specialized agencies getting picked up. Nothing out of the ordinary. 2015 will be different. With only five years separating 2015 and 2020, and with many companies looking to round out their 20-year vision plans with huge moves, the merger and acquisition markets will be full of marketing and advertising moves. The Publicis, Omnicom, and WPP groups of the world can only stay silent for so long. Expect some huge moves, and not just in the marketing world. With branded content continuing to get better, studios and other film or media companies are definitely in the line of sight.

Rise of "New" Markets
We added the quotes because the markets aren't exactly new. The gaming industry is continuing to explode, and the advertising spend in gaming has been growing very quickly, very quietly. The brands involved with gaming and ads in games are the pioneers of getting consumers to interact with them inside a different experience. Example: when you're GTA and you have to find a map behind the dumpsters of McDonald's or steal a 2016 Mustang after breaking into a Ford dealership. The product placement is incredibly subtle, but just as effective. In-store co-branding will rise too; with online shopping getting so easy, brands that still have dedicated brick-and-mortar operations need more ways to get the consumer coming. Bundled offerings and unique experiences will make the in-person shopping experience a worthwhile activity.

Well, that's it! We look forward to the curveballs and blindsides that await AdLand in 2015.

It's been real, 2014.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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