2012 was a huge year of national events: a multitude of marketing opportunities, but after the fireworks and fanfare died down 2013 was gearing up to be an empty year. With nothing on the agenda for 2013, empty13 was launched as a discussion group to discuss the prospect of an empty year, whether it is actually a bad thing, or a chance for brands to be truly creative and write the story of the year themselves, starting with a blank sheet.
empty13 brought together the leading lights from the advertising and media industry in a roundtable summit to debate what 2013 means for brands. The panel thrashed out the challenges and opportunities for brands to build their own storylines in 2013 and to engage with today’s always-on consumer in a digital world. The panel’s insights sparked a wider industry debate for how the media, marketing and advertising industries will set the agenda for the year ahead.
With 2013 upon us, February marked the first in a series of events hosted by Bite which saw over 100 leading industry lights come together to set the agenda and key themes for the year which will be tracked right across the year.
May 15th marks the next event in the calendar with Microsoft, Spotify, Telefonica and ITV amongst the brands discussing the dangers of presuming intimacy with customers. Register to attend the event here or watch online live via live streaming here if you are unable to make it.
See what industry leaders think 2013 will hold and join the debate either here or on Twitter at @theempty13.
Last Wednesday marked the first in a series of empty13 events which Bite are hosting across the year to discuss key themes and trends which are developing as we make our way through 2013.
The key themes to come out of February’s empty13 summit included the need for brands to develop an authentic tone of voice to engage with consumers in social media, the importance of understanding consumers’ multi-platform lives, and the staggering growth of the mobile internet.
The challenge in 2013, without 2012’s run of major national events to piggyback on is to create interesting things to talk about. To do this, brands need to deeply understand their consumers, find out what’s interesting to them and create content they will like.
“Brands need to understand social media is about talking to people and building relationships. Like all relationships you need to listen and sometimes have conversations you don’t like but if done well you’ll create advocates for your brand that will lead to sales. Peter Clare, Head of Digital, Bacardi
An authentic tone of voice is crucial to build genuine relationships with consumers using content in social media. Content must be developed that come out of a brand’s DNA.
“Building trust and authenticity is key. How you communicate and build trust isn’t easy but you need to talk directly to people to get real engagement, and when you do get that it’s fantastic,” Roberto Kussabi, Head of Social Media, Tottenham Hotspur.
Brands need to seize opportunities in everyday events, being able to adapt their message in real time rather than force them into campaigns planned in advance.
“We’ve seen fabulous work from the likes of Paddy Power, which when the Pope resigned immediately produced, with a flourish, fantastically amusing relevant tweets. Although these were promoting its service, they ended up being the most popular tweets among our users.” Bruce Daisley, UK Sales Director, Twitter.
Managing people change is the biggest challenge for agencies getting to grips with digital. Agencies have to make sure they have the right people in place and face the challenge of personnel change as digital drives the need for new forms of client relationship.
“There is an element within any agency of managing decline and managing growth. Sometime the people that will have driven the old client relationships may not understand what drives new relationships. Getting the people in place is key and incentivising them so you don’t lose them to the other exploding area, startups.” Alex DeGroote, Media Analyst, Panmure Gordon
Influence will become an increasingly important element to campaign planning for brands, driving the need for a scientific understanding of its impact on sales and brand awareness.
The development of the web in a series of silos, dominated by Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon means brands need to reassess their marketing strategies online.
“We’re seeing the Balkanisation of the internet. How Facebook is locking up users and data within its walls and not playing with Twitter and vice versa. We don’t yet know how this will play out but it’ll be challenging for marketers that have made investments into these platforms but want a single view of their customer. I don’t know whether the social internet will interoperate better at the end of 2013 or worse but it augurs that it will be worse.” Azeem Azhar, Founder, PeerIndex
Mobile is fast becoming the primary way people access the internet, yet brands are still not developing mobile websites. 43% of the top 100 UK advertisers have no mobile optimised site according to the IAB. Consumers are far ahead of the industry and are being let down by substandard experiences on the mobile web every day.
“If you’re a consumer on the mobile web, if half the stuff you look at doesn’t work properly it’s a huge problem. If you were starting a new company today of course you’d be mobile first. Why would you bother starting with any other screen as mobile is the device consumers are or will be soon using the most.” Jon Mew, Director of Mobile and Operations, IAB
TV will be an even more important medium in 2013, as online and social media make the live experience even more compelling for consumers.
“Online in all its different forms are not a substitute for TV, it’s just a new, complementary behaviour.” Tess Alps, CEO, Thinkbox
Interviews with the key speakers will be shared over the coming weeks, starting with Bruce Daisley from Twitter below.
As 2013 progresses we will inviting key industry figures to come together to discuss how these themes are playing out. The next event is May 15th, to register your interest contact firstname.lastname@example.org
It appears that in empty13 there will be more going on than the name might suggest.
After a bumper-filled, event-laden year last year, our campaign to debate what 2013 would hold for brands has resulted in an influx of ideas, concepts and predictions about what this year could hold for the media, technology and business landscape.
Given that the number of mobile phones on the planet looks likely to exceed the number of humans this year, 2013 is shaping up to be the year of the mobile. This is according to many of the speakers and attendees at Bite’s empty13 event in Milbank Tower this week.
By the end of this year more than 75% of the population will own a smartphone. While this is great news for handset manufacturers, operators and mobile software providers, there is, worryingly, a massive disconnect between this statistic and the fact that of the top 100 brands in the UK, 43% do not have a mobile-optimised website.
The rise in mobile adoption has also impacted the type of content we are consuming – and when we are consuming it, according to Bruce Daisley, UK sales director, Twitter. Our expectations as always on and constantly connected consumers have been the driving force behind Twitter becoming the ‘real-time heartbeat of the nation’. Twitter, Daisley said, was not a social network but an information network; a place where people go to discover things that they are passionate about, not necessarily to meet friends and family. This, therefore, is the reason why brands need to adopt a more human tone with their content, in a Danny Boyle-style philosophy – three parts serious, one part humour, according to Daisley, a theory that was reiterated during the panel debate at the end of the event. An example given by Daisley was of a Specsavers tweet following Eden Hazard kicking the ballboy in a football match against Swansea. It not only demonstrated how humour can win mindshare, but how campaigns can adapt in almost real-time – a challenge facing all brands today.
The importance of focussing on content rather than device it was consumed on was stressed by Tess Alps, CEO of commercial TV body Thinkbox. She stressed the distinction between TV and the TV – one being content the other being a device. Social media is, she said, far from taking people away from TV content, in fact powerfully complemented it. Dual screening is commonplace between tablets and TV for more than half of today’s TV audience, and the Thinkbox video research showing some of the weird and wonderful antics that people get up to in front of the TV set showed that social media is no more distracting than the cat, the dog, or doing some weights!
Tablets also proved a hot topic for interactive advertising body the IAB. John Mew, director of mobile and operations at the IAB, estimated that by the end of this year around half the population would own a table device – growth that outstrips that seen by mobile phones. The IAB research echoed Alps’ views that tablets are enhancing TV watching, except, Mew pointed out, that social media has been turned on its head. During the 2010 World Cup games, tweeting dipped during the match itself and picked up again during half time when viewers discussed the match. By 2012 and the European tournament, tweets reached an all-time high during the play, dipping during half time – reflecting the duality of screens and content being consumed by today’s audience.
So we may not have an Olympian sized Jubilcious year ahead this year, but certainly it looks, from a mobile perspective especially, like 2013 is going to be busier than ever before.
2013 is catch-up time. Time for businesses to wake up and realise their customers are already far ahead of them.
For a long time, the digital industry raced ahead of consumer behaviours, appetites and desires. The industry so often believed that just because something was technically possible it would also be enthusiastically lapped up by consumers.
Swathes of failed products, companies, innovations and online launches of all hues gave the lie to this. It’s really hard, if not impossible, to force behavioural change.
Today, though, pervasive high speed internet access, social media saturation and smartphone penetration putting a powerful computer in everyone’s pockets mean consumers are finally ahead of an industry racing to keep up.
The customer of 2013 doesn’t get excited by a fully functioning m-commerce site but simply expects it, shrugging in incomprehension if they don’t find one before turning to your competitor.
The customer of 2013 won’t get annoyed waiting for you to reply to a customer service email, tweet or Facebook post. They’ll merely give you the courtesy of a few minutes to reply before shrugging again and blocking you from any more contact. Forever.
People no longer see a distinction between type of screen, from TV to tablet to phone, they simply take it as read they’ll be able to have the same, consistent experience across all. They expect everything to work seamlessly too, 24/7.
The always-on consumer doesn’t live in eight hour per days silos and doesn’t expect any company that wants to interact with them to do so either. Refuse to adapt and your business won’t be out of touch, or failing to adapt, or not be not putting the customer at the heart of your business, or any other marketing cliché. It’ll be worse. In consumers’ eyes you’ll simply be an anomaly and cease to exist.
So what is going to excite this expectant, insouciant consumer?
The really big leap forward we are likely to see in 2013 is a true blurring of the physical and the virtual, ie digital, world.
QR codes and alternate reality (AR) use mobile phones to bring any piece of static, dead media or physical property – a magazine, shop window, tube station wall, a pavement, a tree – to life. For years these were gently mocked by many in the industry as a novelty, a marketing gimmick. Well, consumer behaviour has caught up with the technology.
It’s now time for brands to step up and develop more creative, effective uses of the technology for a customer base confident in its use.
Further blurring of the two worlds is set to come from the creep into the mainstream of 3D printing. Promising to disrupt almost any industry, the true impact of this technology is still far from understood.
However, we’re already starting to see fascinating early experiments from brands in using the technology to win over and wow their customers. 2013 may be too early for most to start such experiments but most should at least be beginning to consider what it will do to their business.
So 2013 is going to be anything but empty. The inflexion point of behavioural change means there will instead be simply no time to stand still.