By Celia Collins
What global changes are impacting on the South African media sector? From a Carat perspective we have focused on two main trends:
1. The rise of Closed Competing
2. The development of artificial intelligence and actionable measurement.
If we focus on the rise of closed competing we look at what is commonly known as “Walled Gardens”. Digital media is becoming less open, and more like the walled gardens and portals of the early 2000s. A walled garden is a safe, controlled publisher ecosystem–often within apps–instead of links to the greater web. This happened because it’s a faster experience than moving between apps and sites on mobile and large publishers want to keep their audience for longer. Examples include Snapchat’s Discover, Facebook’s Instant articles, Twitter’s Moments, and the YouTube for Kids app. Walled gardens often have content and adverts native to the platform, rather than adverts like banners which can run across multiple publishers.
The impact of walled gardens has already been seen in lots of ways. For example Snapchat has insisted that advertisers in its Discover section use vertical video as that format works best within its content. Buy Buttons, which allow people to click on a button to buy immediately rather than go to a third party page are safer within apps like Pinterest and Google Search than the web at large, which is why these buttons generally only exist in apps.
The threat of ad blocking can be seen as an incentive for publishers to move to walled gardens on the web (& mobile web); it’s easier to identify and block ads within walled gardens and publishers have more control over how adverts appear, thus making them more difficult to block. Globally we are likely to see walled gardens continue to proliferate and in South Africa we see media owners offering consumers upgrade options which come with ad blocking, therefore it will not take long for South Africa to see walled gardens come into effect. In some ways this is beneficial to brands–it’s easier to guarantee a brand-friendly advertising environment.
Still focusing on closed competing, we are seeing the evolution of search. Search is becoming more specific to platforms (particularly mobile), more personalised and tailored to the user, and it’s now possible to search within apps, and not just content on the web. Mobile searches now outnumber desktop searches globally. Mobile means more voice search, more visual search, and more location-based search, creating more opportunity for the results to be personalised. Google now offers demographic targeting for search ads. The Google Now app acts as a personal assistant, providing notifications tailored to the user and content (location and time of day) to anticipate future needs and searches. Similar services are offered or coming soon from Bing, Facebook and others. This ensures that advertisers’ brands are visible to as many search technologies as possible however, it makes it harder for new brands to cut through on search, which will be an issue if strategies are driven by search.
Messaging and notifications now have a high level of users both globally and in South Africa–WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Wechat now have more than 600m active users. Messaging apps aren’t just for sending text between friends, but now allow the sharing of pictures, videos and music and can integrate with other apps and services. We have seen the big service providers in South Africa trying to take back market share by legally blocking the likes of WhatsApp etc. Thankfully this was not successful but I’m sure we have not seen the last of this story. Brands need to make their content fit into the new world of messaging, from share buttons to full integrations.
As the world becomes more mobile, location and maps have become increasingly important. Maps can be seen as their own ecosystem–users can create their own maps with tools from Google but they can’t alter the data that the maps are based on. Creating your own mapping ecosystem can give companies a special advantage–it can have features tailored to provide needs and act as a differentiator.
In social media we look at sentiments. The social world is all about self-expression and so it’s more important than ever to understand the sentiment of what people are saying. In media, emojis make it easy to read sentiments. Emojis can now be searched for in Instagram posts and the text descriptions of YouTube videos and Facebook has rolled out their Reactions panel to supplement its like button. We are traditionally targeted by day part as a proxy for mood–people feel different in the morning than in the evening. Targeting based on emotions could supersede this, targeting people based on how they are actually feeling. The opportunity for brands is to identify what sort of emotions people associate with them and what they can learn from this in order to serve their customers better and create a deeper relationship.
These are just a few global trends we believe will have an effect within South Africa in 2016 and 2017. Change is inevitable; it has never been as exciting to be a media strategist with so many new and more effective ways to have more personal conversations with our consumers.