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10 predictions for marketers, the TV industry, and the state of social in 2016

6 min read

Social Media

The start of a new year means a new slate of predictions — we were pretty pleased with how the last 2 years of predictions turned out — see our 2014 and 2015 predictions. Now we are back at it again for 10 more predictions.

Here are a few of the things we expect to see make waves in 2016:

1. Talk is cheap: Networks and advertisers will realize engagement is key
While some measurement organizations continue to opine on the value of measuring conversation on Twitter and Facebook and how that impacts TV/advertisers, 2016 will mark the year where networks and advertisers wisen up to the fact that most people don’t talk on social. So, if you’re measuring talk, you’re missing the big picture. Focus will turn to measurement of “engagement” more broadly defined to analyze and measure the signals that all users of social media actually do, not just the hyperactive users who represent the majority of content on everyone’s feeds. And, in our view, conversation is just a subset of engagement.

2. Make Big Data small: Companies will resist too much info
The first use cases of social data in respect to driving business decisions was a game of cherry picking individual metrics and flipping a coin to get meaningful business results. Over the years, we’ve found (and have always championed) looking at the complete picture of metrics is the only way to get meaningful business results. While many people in the industry now also agree, looking at 2000+ social and digital metrics also has its set of challenges. Brands that leverage the right set of curated and derived metrics will provide the advantage of coming to most business decisions quicker, only digging into lower level metrics when needing more specific analysis.

3. Chat boom: Chat platforms will embrace their value
It’s no secret younger social media users are migrating the majority of their attention to Chat Platforms (WhatsApp, Snapchat, WeChat, Viber, Kik, etc). There is a great and exciting opportunity to monetize and let brands hyper target audiences, however they need to do it right.

Chat platforms will look to to build the right native ad products, and more importantly, the right measurement to illustrate engagement. For their part, brands will tell stories in line with how the Platforms work – not repurposed or syndicated from other platforms.

4. Cross-platform frenzy: New measurement tool will excite and confuse
The entire TV/Advertising industry is waiting with bated breath for Nielsen’s Total Audience Measurement  – the magic solution to cure the ills of declining TV viewership (it’s not declining, it’s just moving to new platforms – tablets, mobile, computers, OTT devices, etc.). We know it’s launching in 2016 and will, no doubt, have glitches that everyone will complain about. But, it’s a massively complicated undertaking, so hopefully there is some compassion out there for this complex undertaking.

This year will therefore be a big year of education and testing in this world: 1) education because everyone has to learn exactly what this is measuring; all the vocabulary; all the features; and 2) testing because this data has never been available to the marketplace, so packaging and pricing will be all over the place

5. Back to the future: Network advertising will go old-school
Harkening back to the days of sponsored programs, networks will expand advertising inventory for integrated experiences and other non-30 second pod advertising opportunities. This year’s Pepsi/Empire collaboration will be unleashed in many different forms by major networks and advertisers to cut through the clutter, avoid time shifting behavior, and make a meaningful impact.

6. A “Brand” new approach — TV programs will evolve into brands living in a post-viewership world
While we’ve been saying it for years, and finally someone (Philippe Dauman) said the same thing in Viacom’s earnings announcements, the notion of selling 30-second pods is not the way of the future. With the realization finally sinking in that consumers can now interact with shows (beyond watching 30- or 60-minute episodes) every day across social media platforms, expect networks to make moves as simple as selling native posts on their owned feeds to releasing sponsored mobile games inspired by the shows (TWD example) to even real-world sponsored events with talent and nonepisodic content.

7. “No” your audience: The “Audience Targeting/Programmatic” honeymoon period may wear off
The ad world will continue to focus on hyper-targeting and addressability of everything — linear, nonlinear, across different screens and devices. The question is will all the time and financial investment going into these technologies reap premium pricing out of advertisers to sustain the continued investment and evolution. Just because the industry is asking for it, doesn’t mean they’ll put their money where their mouths are.

On that front, brands will be forced to reconcile what initiatives are happening to drive conversion and what initiatives are done to drive brand. Driving conversion clearly drives the bottom line; this will lead to more questioning of the role of brand marketing, not tied to conversion and the weight it receives in advertisers’ marketing strategies.

8. Bank on it: The utilization of social TV for new value props
While the focus may continue to be on how social TV drives TV viewership, we think 2016 will be the year social TV is also used as a revenue stream for media owners. Expect to see more branded social integrations, native advertising and talent-driven advertising opps that have nothing to do with directly driving viewership.

9. “Ad” behavior: Industry will up its game so consumers don’t want to ad-block
Ad-blocking is already a hot topic but there will be an evolution in conversation that shifts from “how do technologies stop it or enact it,” to, more critically, “how does the industry change the ways in which ads are conceived and put in front of consumers so that consumers don’t want to block them in the first place.”

10. Off to the races: Election year will usher in new era for social analytics
Social data will be finally be used in meaningful ways to project contest results, including the race for the White House. While we are not sure we’ll see something as sophisticated as Nate Silver’s 538, these data signals are definitely heading in that direction.

Author bio: 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.