Welcome you to the new 20’s! Let’s begin the year with 20 predictions for the coming year. This week, we share the first 10…
Prediction #1: The Industry Goes All-In on DAI
Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI) is often more efficient for the sellers and publishers and is arguably easier on the hosts too. But not all publishers agree, and it’ll be interesting to see how the holdouts perform and what sort of leverage they may command in a future marketplace with less spontaneity and character. People will confuse DAI with programmatic digital, which it isn’t, and the role of audience data for performance marketers (PMs) will continue to be problematic.
Pro Tip: Buyer Beware. The upside of DAI is the ability for networks to actually start bonusing impressions and offer more precise targeting. So far, performance value has not justified the premiums required for targeting, and we have not seen the benefits exceed those of good old fashioned talent endorsement podcast live-reads baked in forever and ever Amen.
Prediction #2: Voice is the New Internet
Instead of eyes and fingers, we use ears and mouths. I feel like I’ve beaten this one to death recently, so if you haven’t been doing your subscriberly duty, you can catch up here.
Pro Tip: This is not your largest, most immediate opportunity for growth, but it is going to eat everything eventually (Podcast, Radio, Streaming Audio). Make sure you own an Amazon Echo and Google Home device so you can start dabbling and familiarize yourself with the possibilities, recognizing that the technology is going to advance exponentially in the coming years.
Prediction #3: Media Polarization, Advertiser Controversy
Performance Marketers & DTC Brands know that their top-performing media purchases are either within or adjacent to personalities delivering opinions. This is increasingly problematic in Trump’s America, as watchdog groups like Sleeping Giants and Media Matters are policing programming—including shows that aren’t thought of as political. When a host says something that is or appears to be stupid or insensitive, advertisers are now getting caught in the crossfire. Brands increasingly face pressures to pick a side and exit advertising contracts from programs that may not reflect their personal views, but keep the lights on and help them make payroll. In the coming election year, expect this problem to get worse.
Pro Tip: Don’t get caught flatfooted when your prized podcaster delivering peak performance gets caught in the crosshairs of a spontaneous controversy over something they said. Having a point of view and an action plan in advance is key. Fortunately, The Influencer has you covered.
Prediction #4: Scales Tip From Traditional to Digital Media
Only last year did the number of minutes Americans spend on connected mobile devices exceed that of television. 18-34-year-olds now watch more online video than traditional. 25-54-year-olds are next. Indeed, digital domination has been a foregone conclusion for some time. But here’s the thing, digital audio and video have historically been little more than a side dish for impressions and ad dollars. With the Streaming Wars in full effect—coupled with streaming audio, connected speakers, and the digitization of podcasts—we are now beginning to hit critical mass as the available impressions for digital sponsorship become the main course. The momentum is going to start impacting business decisions in far more profound ways than we have seen in the past.
Pro Tip: You already know this is happening. The question marketers need to ask is if budgets have been transitioned to match their target customers’ consumption of emerging audio and video. If not, now is the time.
Prediction #5: Podcast Attribution Takes More Baby Steps
We like what’s going on with Podsights, Chartable, Barometric, etc. and have been on the front lines of testing. But as we’ve all learned in our TV attribution adventures, there are no silver bullets and execution is easier to screw up than advertised. Some say attribution is like religion. Eventually, you just need to pick a side and live by faith.
Pro Tip: This is a problem that never really gets completely solved. The way to deal with this is to test the shiny new attribution offerings, but hedge your bets and don’t deactivate those archaic promo codes and vanity URLs just yet. You will find safety in running redundant models so you ease into the transition until a dominant mechanism has earned your trust. Think of the latest iterations as you do any other test, but be slow to see them as silver bullets. Someday soon, it will all be digital, and then the conversation will shift into debates about multi-touch credit assignment until the end of time.
Prediction #6: Brand Marketers Continue to Drive up Podcast Premiums
Look, we’ve had a bit of a free-for-all in Podcast where PMs got to sponsor stuff they thought was cool and have it drive acquisitions far beyond what other channels produced. Then everyone hyped it up, which fueled the growth of the industry, but that growth comes at a price to early entrants. Now, for example, we have advancements like Triton Digital creating a semi-universal measurement tool and a more legitimate ranking system, then partnering with media planning and buying system, STRATA, so agencies can plan it as we do with established media. Judgment day is fast approaching where PMs are competing with brand marketers as prices increase with ease of purchase for large agencies. Our little baby podcast has grown into a teenager, and we have to accept that our relationship has to change as it now has a seat at the adult table.
Pro Tip: If you’re a PM, you have to zig where others zag. That means you need to test new platforms that are more like Podcast of 2014, but not everyone is talking about it yet. That’s why it’s a find. Sourcing the next great channel is what great agencies do, and that’s what we are doing at Oxford Road. But no, I’m not going to post those here, because such treasure maps are reserved strictly for clients.
You also need to loosen the handcuffs on your planning requirements so you don’t just buy programming that you and your team think is cool, but allow yourself to sponsor content that is proven to work and avoided by brands. Sorry folks, but this is the business we’ve chosen.
Prediction #7: Brand Budgets Increase, For Now
I’ve been in this industry since 2003 and never heard so many “Data-driven” brands talking about branding. I chalk the talk up to the longest bull market in history…and it makes me fear a recession.
Don’t get it twisted, I do believe in branding and our agency is helping some performance-first clients diversify their budgets with brand objectives in mind. However, there are few PMs capable of flipping the cognitive switch and seeing through a real brand campaign.
Pro Tip: Know thyself. If you’re ready to talk about branding, then you have to buy like a brand and commit budgets unencumbered by typical performance metrics. Plan your brand budget annually and don’t mess with it more than quarterly. Don’t call it “Branding” if the intent is to run a multi-week test that winds up getting judged just like a performance campaign. Branding is fun to talk about, and it could be transformative, but it takes real budget and real courage—so be ready to walk the talk. When a market correction does happen (hopefully in 2030), that will be the true test of your commitment to brand marketing.
Prediction #8: Podcasts are the New Blogs
This probably deserves a full article and research, but stop and think about it. Podcasts can now be produced and distributed for pennies (or for free). There are MILLIONS of them. I know how badly you want to hear the new Jiffy Lube Podcast or the rantings of your neighbors and in-laws about fields they don’t work in. With so many flavors, what is a podcast anymore, really? It’s people talking, uploaded to a web site. Come on! What we will inevitably see is an iron curtain coming down and separating the legit from the aspirational programs. Yes, there will still be millions of podcasts and you can post it for the world to hear, and you might even get them through iTunes and Spotify, but most will be walled out with the rest of the plebs.
Pro Tip: For brands, having your own podcast will be table stakes for a full-scale content-marketing strategy. Advances in search functionality will make it accessible to people who care about razor-thin target groups. But we are soon going to become comfortable with the idea that our corporate or hobbyist podcast is not going to be the new Serial. It’s effectively an audio blog, so manage expectations accordingly.
Prediction #9: Koala Corps Reaches First Milestone
Every day at Children’s Hospitals across the country, children who are too young to verbally advocate for themselves are left alone in bed because parents, nurses, and hospital staff cannot be available 24/7 to comfort them every time they cry. We launched The Koala Corps in 2018 to solve this problem by raising funds to hire full-time staff to run the program as willing volunteers are plentiful, but someone to vet, schedule, train and manage them are not. We believe that we will have this solved in Los Angeles in 2020.
Pro Tip: Help us achieve this first milestone by learning more and contributing here.
Prediction #10: Smart Speakers Grow a Personality
I’m human, ok. I want Samuel Jackson to tell me the weather and Cookie Monster to provide me with directions on Waze. But that’s not what I mean. I’m talking about must-have content, created especially for this new interactive universe. It’s not here today, but it’s coming soon.
Pro Tip: Oxford Road is leading the charge on this emerging medium to provide safe passage for brands and providing play-by-play coverage via The Influencer. So keep reading vigorously every week and if you need an agency that doesn’t just take your order, but is a true thought partner helping you capitalize on these changes in the marketplace, don’t be a stranger.
This is just bursting with possibilities. Join us as we conclude our 20 predictions for 2020 in next week’s edition of The Influencer. And let us know your predictions in the comment section below.